■ Rev. Robert Eaton / Contributed
Every human being asks themselves at some point in their lives, often at many points in their lives, the basic questions of personal purpose and meaning. At the same time, there are the questions of personal failures and success.
And if being honest with ourselves, we will all recognize that as much as we try, we do not have everything within us we need to stay on the right track, always do the right things, and always succeed in being a benefit to others.
This article should be published close to Sunday, June 4, the day celebrated as Pentecost in the 2017 Christian church calendar. I’d like to introduce in a very brief way, the Feast of Pentecost, including its connection to Easter, and then share just one of the many implications given by God for this divine event that has to do with these questions of life.
By the way, the date changes from year to year. That’s because, as the word Pentecost refers to 50 days, it is always the seventh Sunday following Easter Sunday, and the day celebrated as Easter changes. Pentecost is the day when, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, God the Holy Spirit was “poured out” upon the 11 apostles and the more than 109 other believers who had been staying in Jerusalem.
That very day was the Jewish Feast of Booths, and Jerusalem was filled to overflowing with Jewish pilgrims coming to worship in the temple. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit caused an enormous stir among thousands of the pilgrims, and those thousands heard and saw the disciples responding to the infilling of the Spirit in dramatic ways. The conclusion of the telling of the event, as found in the second chapter of Acts, was that after an extemporaneous preaching given by the apostle Peter, 3,000 Jews chose to become believers in Jesus as the Son of God, and in his resurrection, and they were baptized. Where, and how, it doesn’t say, but that is some kind of response!
Just one of the benefits of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit would become more and more evident as time went by in the early Christian community. Through the evidence and observations by all of the apostles, and in St. Paul’s writings (see 1 Corinthians 12), we can see that God intended to make his strength available to all those who believed in order to assist them in accomplishing what he was asking of them. That’s quite a powerful formula for success!
Let me say it again: God asks that we do something for him, such as being a witness to others of his great goodness, and then, knowing already our human weakness, promises to give us the strength and fortitude and even the courage it takes to do that! How encouraging and comforting! How inspiring and motivating!
Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Not only does God give you what you need to succeed in his directions, but the implication of Paul’s words includes our future ups and downs. That is, if while we are following God’s leading and find moments of failure, that’s not the end of it. God’s Holy Spirit is going to stick with you all the way through until Jesus comes again. Incredible, but yet God makes it happen for us.
A good, solid, well-voiced “Alleluia” is appropriate in response.