They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.Acts 2:3-4
I sometimes think about getting a small, black-line minimalist tattoo of a flame. I would have it on my shoulder to symbolize the Holy Spirit descending on the disciples as tongues of fire at Pentecost. When someone would ask me what it meant, I’d tell them about how the Holy Spirit rested on the disciples’ shoulders at Pentecost so that thousands of people would be baptized and know Christ on that day. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get a tattoo, but if I did, I’d use it as a way to evangelize.
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When I read Scripture, I like to contemplate how people felt as Biblical events were unfolding. Because the disciples were so human, I like to imagine how they reacted to hearing the parables or what was going through their minds when they witnessed the miracles. Reflecting on the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, I think the disciples experienced a whirlwind of emotions.
In the upper room, I’m sure many if not all of them were sad that Jesus was no longer, physically, with them. After watching him ascend into Heaven, I’m sure they looked around and wondered, “what do we do now?” even though Jesus literally told them what to do, which was the Great Commission! Retreating to the upper room, I’m sure they were afraid and anxious as they worried about what was coming next. I can only imagine that their fear intensified when they witnessed the Holy Spirit in the form of fire, but I don’t think their fear lasted long enough to question what was going on. When the tongues of fire rested on them, I believe they were filled with peace. Now that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were ready to take on the mission that Jesus commanded of them. They enthusiastically left the upper room and spoke in tongues. They shared the Gospel to people from several countries, and their witness inspired 3,000 people to be baptized and follow Christ in one day.
What’s important to take away from Pentecost is that the disciples didn’t just receive, they also acted. When the Holy Spirit filled each disciple, they didn’t stay in their upper room. They emerged and allowed the Holy Spirit to help them share the Gospel. Because of their actions, 3,000 people were baptized. I find it so fascinating and inspiring that in one day, 3,000 people chose to follow Christ because the disciples took action in response to the Holy Spirit.
What do we do when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit?
Although it might seem like the disciples lived in a completely different world, we aren’t that different from them. We follow Christ and strive to be like him, which is what it means to be a disciple. Moreover, we receive the Holy Spirit on when we make our Confirmation. When the bishop seals us with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we become full members of the Church and soldiers of Christ. We also receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit so we can share the Gospel like the disciples. Jesus calls us to take part in the Great Commission as well, and we can make disciples of all nations with the help of the Holy Spirit.
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When we receive the Holy Spirit, do we act on it, or do we remain idle? Do we use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel, or do we keep them to ourselves? Especially on Pentecost, we should strive to be like the disciples and allow the Holy Spirit to make us a witness of Christ. This begins with praying and staying open to receiving the Holy Spirit. Begin your prayers with come, Holy Spirit, and say this mantra throughout your day. This will help you stay open to the Holy Spirit’s gifts and graces. You’ll constantly feel those gifts renewed in you as the Holy Spirit remains in you. If we participate in Pentecost by welcoming the Holy Spirit, we can become more perfect missionary disciples.
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