When I was little boy, the story of Pentecost always intrigued me. Rooms shaking, tongues of fire hovering, and apostles speaking in different languages is all kind of cool stuff to an eight year old. But as I've grown older, I like Pentecost even more! Pentecost isn't a story about some awesome event that happened 2000 years ago. Well, it is. But that is not ALL it is. What I love about Pentecost is that it is an event that happens today.
I think every Catholic child leans that Pentecost is the "birthday of the Church." But, it is not merely a commemoration or an anniversary of some long ago event. The birthday of the Church is today. The Church is being made new today through the power of the Holy Spirit. Everywhere the Church is preaching the Gospel, celebrating the Sacraments, living in holiness, she is being made new all over again. It is the Holy Spirit that fell upon the apostles 2000 years ago that is the same Holy Spirit who is at work in the Church today. Pentecost is happening now.
When we see news stories that involve intense winds or fire, we also hear how these forces moved people from one place to another; hurricanes cause evacuations and fires cause people to flee. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes in the form of fire and wind to move us from one place to another. There is no stability in the Christian life. We are either moving toward God or moving away from him. The Holy Spirit comes to us to keep moving us forward, moving us to evangelize, moving us to leave sin and moving us to embrace virtue. St. Paul says all of this in the Letter to the Galatians. Left to ourselves, we become immersed in idolatries, impurities, factions, and dissensions. But, the Holy Spirit moves us away from these things and moves us toward love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The Holy Spirit is at work already in us. He is already moving us from one place to another. He is like the pillar of fire that moved the Israelites out of Egypt. The Holy Spirit wants to make the Church young again. To be the Church, we have to be a people on the move. The Holy Spirit wants to move us out of the locked room and out onto the dangerous streets. Sometimes, I think we spend far too much time in committee meetings and far too little time being like Peter who was a man on fire that first Pentecost. The Holy Spirit fills rooms with winds and fires in order to get us out into the world!