Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen to be most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit and through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Mankind, glory to Thee!
Before Pentecost the Spirit of God would descend upon a person for various reasons – prophets would be inspired to speak or write or act in a particular way so that God’s will might be made known to His people. But something new happened at Pentecost, something wondrous, something marvelous. At the incarnation our Lord Jesus Christ came and dwelt among us and at Pentecost the Holy Spirit was sent forth to dwell within us. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says The Lord, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.” (Joel 2:28) The promise of our salvation, that we would be united with God, began to be made manifest 50 shorts days after the Resurrection.
The twelve disciples portrayed in the icon above form a perfect harmonious community. These twelve are as different as any twelve men on the planet. The gospels make it clear these men are not united because of the compatibility of their personalities. They are all radically different and argued but when you look at them in this icon it is clear they are bound together in a community of love by God the Holy Spirit. This community is not built upon mutual compatibility, shared affection or common interests. This community of faith is built upon the divine breath that they received. What binds them together are the rays of Holy Spirit descending on them from above. Our hearts have all been set aflame by the same divine fire. The same divine embrace that embraced them has embraced us. It is God who has brought us together and made a community out of us.
Pentecost is God’s full self-disclosure, self-giving to us, His body. The Orthodox Church begins the Divine Liturgy with inviting the Holy Spirit to come down on us and abide in us. “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth who art everywhere present and fillest all things, the Treasury of good things and the Giver of life, come and abide in us, cleanse us from every stain and save our souls, O Good One.” Every Liturgy therefore is another Pentecost. What in past times was reserved for prophets, sages, kings and judges is now to be poured out upon all flesh. Fishermen and tax-collectors, gentiles and Jews, slaves and freemen, men and women, electricians, teachers, cops, stockbrokers, salesmen, lawyers, professors, stay at home moms, students, engineers, physicists, IT guys, young, old, retired, tired, everyone in the Holy Spirit receives a new direction, a fresh purpose and commission to fulfill our God-given tasks, to live and witness for Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Orthodox Church’s Daily Readings: Acts 2:1-11; John 7:37-52, 8:12