Here’s the short answer to those questions. It was all God’s plan in salvation history. So what is that plan anyway? Can we see the plan, feel it, touch it, be involved in it, and reap its reward? Yes to all of the above!
The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people. Similarly our Pentecost that we celebrated on Sunday, May 15th, is considered the birth of the church. Celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, it is traditionally a joyous time of giving thanks and presenting offerings for the new grain of the summer wheat harvest in Israel. The celebration is also tied to the giving of the Ten Commandments and thus bears the name Matin Torah or "giving of the Law." Jews believe that it was exactly at this time that God gave the Torah to the people through Moses on Mount Sinai. This sealed the peoples’ covenant with God, what we know as the Old Covenant.
The giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles seals the new law and New Covenant brought in the person of Jesus. There is a difference between the old law and the new. The old law was written in stone, but the new law is written on our hearts.
God has always given us His life-giving Spirit. When He created the world, His spirit rushed over it like a driving wind. He breathed life into Adam with His Spirit. In this new Pentecost, the Spirit rushes over the apostles like a driving wind and it is the new Adam, Jesus, who breathes His life-saving Spirit into the apostles.
We must be careful not to waste what God has given us or forget what Jesus did for us. We, the body of Christ, must also give to others what we ourselves have received! This is how we strengthen Christ’s body, the Church.
I have heard it said that the most unbelieved beatitude in the Bible is: “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Wow, that goes against all of our instincts. Here are a few reasons why it is more blessed to give than to receive:
- Giving illustrates God’s salvation;
- Giving exhibits God’s heart;
- Giving obeys God’s command.
As a people of God we have received so much. In the coming weeks and months let us remind ourselves of what our roles are as the Body of Christ. Let us become givers and doers and show each other God’s love and mercy. May our hearts become more like God’s heart - within each of us and our families, our neighbors, our parish, and the world. Let us truly accept God’s gift of His Holy Spirit, and then share in that ocean of His love and mercy.