Fr. Nicholas V. Gamvas
The Reading is from The Book of Acts beginning at the 2nd Chapter and the 1st verse
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
Today is the Birthday of the Church—we count our history as beginning with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on the 50th Day (what “Pentecost” means) after the Resurrection.
Imagine, if you will, two thousand years ago plus or minus, year 30 A.D. It is the first day of the week, and the Apostles are meeting, as they have gotten into the habit of doing, and talking over what they have learned from Jesus.
It is thought that they met in the same room where the Last Supper was held, and we know from the Gospels that they usually had the door locked, for fear of the Jews. A normal Sunday evening, except… There suddenly came a rushing and roaring, as if a mighty wind were shaking the house, and blowing through the halls. Still timid and afraid, they would have wondered what had been set upon them.
But instead of being hurt, as they had half-feared, something very strange happens. They see light, flickering and flowing among them, and what looked like a flame appeared above each one’s head!
Marveling greatly, they began to speak, but the room was filled with many voices, speaking in different languages. The Apostles were astonished to find that they were the ones talking—and in different tongues, that they did not know.
The noise of the wind was heard not only by the Apostles, but by the neighbors and people in the street, who came rushing to find out what was happening—after the manner of people everywhere. And surprise spread through the crowd.
For each person—from wherever in the world he came—heard the Apostles talking joyfully about the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ in his own language. People from all over the known world (and, one suspects from some unknown corners heard the Gospel proclaimed as if someone they had known all their lives, yet all seem to have known that these Apostles were simple men, out of Galilee.
Many and many were converted and sought baptism on the spot. Many more were impressed, and spread the word.
The Apostles themselves were not longer afraid of the Jews or of anyone, and went boldly out to proclaim the Gospel, to heal and work wonders, to become Martyrs/Witnesses to the Risen Christ.
Indeed could they cry, as Psalmist does in his Song of Praise:
With the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles became one with Christ—indeed became His Body manifest here on earth—and praising Jesus as Lord, with the force of the Holy Spirit they went out into the world to forgive sins, heal it, and lead it back to its Creator and Savior…
In the Name of the Father +
And the Son
And of the Holy Spirit +