It was by his heroic death that Jesus won the power to give the Spirit to his followers.

Monday, 4/6/15

Let me point out something about the last sentence in our first reading which was a speech Peter made to the crowds on Pentecost. The Apostles had been in hiding, dreading a crucifixion like the one meted to Jesus. But, then, after being possessed by the Holy Spirit, they became men enriched with strength and eloquence.

Pentecost is not just a Christian feast. It was the fiftieth day after the first Passover eaten in Egypt thirteen centuries in the past. It was also the day when, arrived at Mount Sinai, the people made their covenant with God, becoming his people. So on Pentecost the streets of Jerusalem were crowded with Jews from all over the Mediterranean world, come to celebrate their great Jewish feast.

All of those people were wondering about how each of them was able to understand the speech of the Apostles as though it were being delivered in seven different languages at once. They also wondered at the sudden boldness and eloquence of those simple fishermen from Galilee.

Peter gave a lengthy speech, explaining what had come over the Apostles. Peter reminded everyone of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Then he uttered that great last sentence: “Exalted at the right hand of God, he poured out the promised Spirit on us.”

He said that when Jesus in death was lifted up to the Father, he received the Spirit that had been promised; and then proceeded to pour it out on the Apostles.

In his lifetime Jesus was led about by the Spirit, but he was not in possession of the Spirit. He could not bestow it on others. Remember that time in Chapter Six of John’s Gospel when the crowds were deserting him, and he asked the Apostles if they would leave him too. If they had left he would have had to watch them go, because he had not the power to put the Spirit in them.

He had no way for changing their minds. But as a reward for his heroic death he received what had been promised him: namely, the right to give the Spirit to whomever he wished.

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