We might wonder where God is, what with the carnage in the middle east, the cyber attacks and the epidemic which has decimated our world. Might appears to be right and many world leaders seem to care little about their people. The Christians in the early church might have felt the same. They were persecuted and ostracised by their fellow Jews, and tortured, thrown to the lions and sent to cruel deaths by the Romans. Yet the Holy Spirit moved among them directing their course. Paul the fanatical pharisee, who had raged against them, became their champion and brought the Good News to the gentiles. When he was flogged and thrown into prison the event brought about the conversion of his jailer and family (Acts 16:16-34). He was taken to Rome and tradition tells us that Peter came there too. There they died as martyrs but the empire which set out to destroy them proved to be fertile ground for the spreading of the gospel. Eventually it would become its protector with conversion of Constantine in the fourth century. The Holy Spirit can make use of all kinds of set backs and disasters to bring about the Kingdom.
The Spirit is pictured as a dove, symbolising peace, and fire, representing power. This power however is that of love, not of domination. In his meeting with Nicodemus Jesus likened the Spirit to the wind: “The wind blows where it chooses...” (John 3:8)
Like the wind, the third person of the Trinity is invisible but where he/she is present there is lightness and tranquillity.
“Thou, of all consolers best,
thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
dost refreshing peace bestow.”
- Sequence for Pentecost Sunday