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. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Acts 2:2-4
Do you think there was really a “noise like a strong driving wind” at this first outpouring of the Holy Spirit? And do you think there really were “tongues as of fire” that came and rested on everyone? Well, there most likely was! Why else would have it been recorded that way in the Scriptures?
These physical manifestations of the coming of the Holy Spirit were made present for numerous reasons. One reason was so that these first recipients of the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit would have concretely understood that something amazing was happening. By seeing and hearing these physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit they were more properly disposed to understand that God was doing something awesome. And then, upon seeing and hearing these manifestations, they were touched by the Holy Spirit, consumed, filled and set on fire. They suddenly discovered within themselves the promise Jesus made and they finally began to understand. Pentecost changed their lives!
We most likely have not seen and heard these physical manifestations of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but we should rely upon the witness of those in the Scriptures to allow ourselves to arrive at a deep and transforming faith that the Holy Spirit is real and wants to enter our lives in the same way. God wants to set our hearts on fire with His love, strength and grace so as to effectively live lives that effect change in the world. Pentecost is not only about us becoming holy, it’s also about us being given all we need to go forth and bring the holiness of God to all those we encounter. Pentecost enables us to be powerful instruments of the transforming grace of God. And there is no doubt that the world around us needs this grace.
As we celebrate Pentecost it would be helpful to ponder the primary effects of the Holy Spirit in a prayerful way. Below are the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. These Gifts are the primary effects of Pentecost for each and every one of us. Use them as an examination of your life and let God show you where you need to grow more deeply in the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, send forth Your Spirit in my life and set me on fire with the Gifts of Your Spirit. Holy Spirit, I invite You to take possession of my soul. Come Holy Spirit, come and transform my life. Holy Spirit, I trust in You.
Further Reading – Pentecost Sunday
Saint of the Day – Saint Ephrem
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Fear of the Lord: With this gift the Christian becomes keenly aware of anything that may hurt his/her relationship with God. There is a holy “fear” of hurting this relationship and grace is given to avoid these things at all cost.
Wisdom: With this gift the Christian is given a special grace to “ponder divine realities” in his/her speculative reason. We are able to see the big picture and know how best to be an instrument of peace and harmony in our world.
Understanding: This is the ability to have a supernatural assurance of the matters of faith. Life makes sense. We can make sense of the deeper parts of revelation, make sense of suffering and understand those things that tempt us to doubt. With this gift we come to see how everything in life can work for good in accordance with God’s plan.
Knowledge: With this gift the Christian knows, more in the practical intellect, what God’s will is in this or that situation. We know how to live, how to discern God’s will and what decision to make in our daily life. It also enables us to learn from our past mistakes.
Counsel: With this gift the Christian sees him/herself as a link in a chain which makes up the entire Church. God uses each one of us to help and support one another on our journey. We know what to say and how to act so as to do our part to build up one another.
Fortitude: Simply put, it is a firmness of mind and spirit to do good and avoid evil. It’s a sort of Christian courage. The Gospel will call all of us to a radical life of love. Fortitude gives us the strength we need to follow through.
Piety: This gift enables us to first reverence and love God, but also to see the dignity of one another and reverence each other as children of God.