On Sunday, May 20, the Western Churches will celebrate Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the face of the earth. When the Holy Spirit came to the Upper Room where the disciples and the Blessed Mother were praying on the day of Pentecost, it was with great power, in the form of a driving wind and “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:30) descending on each of them.
From Pentecost on, the world has never been the same, mainly because the disciples went out “to all the ends of the earth” as witnesses or martyrs proclaiming the power of the Lord’s death and resurrection just as Jesus announced, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The presence of the Holy Spirit that came in the form of “tongues of fire” caused the disciples to no longer hide behind locked doors as fearful men, but empowered them (individually and collectively) to spread the Good News like “wildfire” to all the ends of the earth. Oh, we’ve seen wild fires spread throughout forests in California and other parts of the nation. We’ve seen wildfires and lava spread throughout Hawaii because of the Kilauea volcano, and we’ve seen “wildfires” spread throughout the Vivant Arena Center this year because of the fiery passion that the Utah Jazz had in taking our local NBA team all the way into the playoffs.
Not only were there “wildfires” there on the basketball court, there were “wildfires” throughout the arena and in the stands as all the fans, dressed in their fiery, red and orange shirts did the “wave” around the arena while chanting, “We will…we will rock you!” Needless to say, there was a “Pentecost” of sorts and an outpouring of the spirit there in the Vivant arena and around Utah as we all did our best to “Take Note” and to “Catch the Fever!”
May the NBA “wildfire” that caught our attention this last season and caused us to believe just a little more in the goodness and gifts of others, be a small reflection of what took place there in that Upper Room where Mary and the disciples prayed for nine days straight for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). If we can get excited about a basketball that is filled with nothing but hot air, how much more should we get excited about the Spirit of God that fills the entire earth, and most importantly, how much more should we get excited about the Spirit of God that chooses to take up residence within your soul and mine: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens up the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
With the power of the Holy Spirit taking up residence within our souls, we as Christians should be on “fire” to stand up and do that “wave” around the entire world while announcing to Satan, “We will…we will rock you!” We may not have won the NBA Championship Title this year or in the last few years; however, the fuel that fired-up the Houston Rockets and caused their victory cannot steal the fire of God’s love that we have deep within us.
May we use God’s fire of love to pray for and to reach out to all victims and survivors of fires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, famines, etc. Like the 12 apostles who passed on the Good News of our Lord’s death and resurrection (one person at a time) to the ends of the earth, we too can be that “ball of fire” of Good News that goes into the world. But not by our own strength, power and spirit, but with the Spirit of God that Jesus proclaimed, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
In his book, “The Lamb of God,” Scott Hahn, a well-known Catholic Theologian, challenges us to be that “fire” for God and for others: “As the fire descended from heaven to consume the sacrifices on Solomon’s altar, so the fire descended to consume the disciples at Pentecost. The fire is one and the same; it is the Holy Spirit, Who enables us to be offered up as living sacrifices upon the altar of the earth.”
Because of Pentecost, it’s time to suit up, to play ball and to tell the world, “Take Note!” “Catch the Spirit!”
Rev. Vialpando is the priest at St. Marguerite Catholic Church in Tooele.