The text of Acts goes on to describe how they chose Matthias, the successor to the betrayer, Judas. In choosing, they exercised the gift of discernment first by listening to Peter as he described how the Spirit had worked through King David in the time before Jesus, and then by proposing two deserving disciples from which to choose. Following this, all 120 people prayed asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to choose the one best suited to restore the apostles’ number to twelve which was done so as to have a symbolic connection with the Twelve Tribes of Israel, a sign of the wholeness of the nation as it was originally intended, and hence wholeness for the Church. They then chose lots, trusting that God would reveal the best choice. This process is the basis of that which is still used in all Church discernment: discussion, prayer invoking the Holy Spirit, and thoughtful choosing, often by vote.
We are all important to the life of the Church. Imagine what would have happened if the apostles had called down the Spirit and then no one responded after the joy of Pentecost had faded away! Imagine if only twelve men went forth to spread the Good News and no one else discerned their role, such that they left everything to those twelve! It is clear that God intended the Spirit to enliven all of us in different ways with different gifts, just as the apostles heard and spoke in different languages during the Pentecost experience. Therefore we need to discern continually what our gifts are and how we are to use them. We need to keep praying about how we are to serve the Lord, not if we are to serve Him. And if we all take Pentecost to heart every year, calling upon the Spirit to refresh that which He has begun in us, asking Him to fall afresh upon the Church and the hurting world, then we will see with renewed eyes, hear with renewed ears, and love with renewed hearts.
May we pray for our Church that on this Pentecost the Holy Spirit may fall afresh on us, enlivening our understanding of community and our part within it! May we call upon the intercession of Mary and the apostles that they would continuously call down the Holy Spirit upon all the areas of the world which are in need of God’s grace! May we pray for the Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon us for the needs of each day! May we have renewed eyes to see the presence of the Holy Spirit within us and around us! May we have renewed hearts to bear with faith all the adversities of life! And may we know the joy of the Holy Spirit as He fills our hearts anew at Pentecost! Let us meet in the midst of the Fire of Love, the Holy Spirit! Peace!
©Michele L. Catanese
The first image is part of a painting of the Pentecost event by Alessandro Filipepi Botticelli, called The Descent of the Holy Spirit. I chose it because I was drawn to the rays of light which were falling upon them from above and also because Mary was in the center of the group, (which is seen in the complete work.) Truly the Holy Spirit was filling them with joy, peace, and many other graces.
The second image is a photo I took while in Rockport, TX. I loved the contrast of the colors in this scene: the water a deep green, the sky a vivid blue, and the cloud enlivening both colors. The wispy quality of the cloud, and that it was throughout the sky, seems like an image of the Spirit of God, or Ruah from the Old Testament. In Hebrew 'ruah' translates to 'wind, breath, or cloud.' This ruah was the "mighty wind which hovered over the waters" of creation in Genesis 1:2.
Next is an unusual painting attributed to Bl. Fra Angelico, though it may have been done by one of his students. I am not sure where the original is, but I chose it because unlike most Pentecost interpretations I have seen, it contains more than the twelve apostles and Mary. Therefore it is unusual, (and in my opinion, refreshing), to see the event depicted more accurately. Now if only he had included a few more women. I 'forgive' him for this, however, because I love his work.
After the Fra Angelico is my favorite image in this entry. It is called Pentecost. It is my favorite because of the medium used: it is a quilt! It was created by named Arthur Poulin, OSB Cam. (The letters after his name mean he is a Camaldolese Benedictine monk.) It is on Pinterest, to which one must subscribe, but here is the link anyway. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/15058979974308248/?from_navigate=true. I chose it because of the colors which seem to represent the fire of the Spirit coming over the waters. It tied in with what I wrote last week about the fiery cloud which is referred to as Shekinah. And lastly it also ties in with the idea of the Spirit hovering over the waters which I mentioned above. Love it!
Next is another of my photos, also taken in Rockport, TX. It was taken on a nature trail. I chose to include this little bird because it represents the smallest among us. Every creature has a purpose and nothing we do is too small. This tiny bird with its beautiful 'voice' has a purpose, which is to praise God in its song... and so do we.
And finally: The Holy Spirit The Lord The Giver of Life The Paraclete Sender of Peace, by Fr. William Hart McNichols. I chose it because it shows the hand of God bestowing the Holy Spirit and the many graces He bears upon the world. It is a sign of infinite love. It can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-holy-spirit-the-lord-the-giver-of-life-the-paraclete-sender-of-peace-093-william-hart-mcnichols.html.