by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
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I Cor. 12: 3b-7, 12-13
Jn. 20: 19-23
The Holy Spirit can seem elusive. Some Christians, like Pentecostals and Baptists, have a commendably strong connection to the Holy Spirit, harnessing his power concretely and positively. For many Christians of the West, however, he can be difficult to comprehend.
Our first reading gives us a glimpse into his mysterious power. Luke, the author of Acts, describes the first Pentecost:
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
Acts 2:2-3 (NAB)
Meditate on some key phrases: “and suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind”; “then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.” Luke uses elevated language to help us understand, to the best of our ability, the power and mystery of the Holy Spirit. He also evokes the two most common ways that the Holy Spirit reveals himself in the Old Testament: by wind and by fire.
Most importantly, the message is that the Holy Spirit works and has the true power of the living God.
This exact same Spirit is alive today, assisting and comforting us throughout our lives. Eagerly call on him to actually descend on you, just as he actually descended upon the disciples at Pentecost.
Note: I use the pronoun “he” to describe the Holy Spirit in a general way, obviously not saying that the Holy Spirit is somehow a human male. For over 1900 years people intuitively understood that “he” denoted relationship in a general, not a masculine, way, and it is my hope that people eventually realize that once again.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.