Acts 19:1-8; Psalm 67, John 16:29-33
Six days to Pentecost - the birthday of the Church, when the promised Spirit, which we have been waiting for since the Ascension, comes in dramatic form, as a flame divided, yet undimmed, resting upon the heads of the disciples. The first reading today talks of two baptisms, that of John, and that of the Holy Spirit. John's Baptism was one of repentance and healing but was not sufficient for salvation - John the Baptist insisted that we be Baptised in the name of Jesus and believe in Him. There are a number of interesting questions - which we do not have the means to answer. For one - did those that Paul laid his hands on know about the Spirit of God at all? Did they perhaps believe in a God of two persons, Father and Son? They certainly seemed to believe that Jesus was both the son of God and the Son of Man.
This first reading is set after Pentecost, but those whom Paul was addressing had not received their personal pentecost. As soon as Paul laid his hands on them in the name of Jesus, , they received the full gifts of the Holy Spirit, and began to prophesy and to praise God in tongues. What might that have meant then? Since Vatican II, many Catholics (and other Christians) have experienced a renewal experience, have prayed in tongues and have seen or experienced miraculous healings. These are fruits of the 'throwing open the windows of the church and letting the fresh air of the spirit blow through' (Pope John XXIII). At our Baptism and Confirmation, we received through the same sign - the laying on of hands - the same Spirit into our lives. We may or may not have experienced the effect of the Spirit in our lives, but the spirit is, for sure, as Jesus promised, with us. In just a few days time we get our annual chance to celebrate the coming of the holy spirit to us in the feast of Pentecost.
This week now is a time of preparation for that day.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people, and enkindle in us the fire of your Love. Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.