Two weeks ago I cheered on many of my friends as they graduated from college. While I was saying my goodbyes, I tried not to think about how long it might be before I see them again. They were campus leaders and my own personal role-models, and now that I am a rising senior, I – along with my classmates – will be expected to fill the vacuum in student leadership and responsibility that their departure has created. Now, I am in a kind of limbo, wedged between the departure of several of my friends and the arrival of my final year of undergraduate education, and my imminent entrance into the ‘real world’.
I don’t think it is a stretch to suppose that many of the disciples found themselves in similar circumstances during the time between the Ascension and Pentecost. After spending forty days with the resurrected Lord, who was their friend and spiritual leader, Jesus departed from the disciples, but not before commissioning them to carry on His work (cf. Mark 16:15). As they came together for the Jewish feast of Pentecost, they must have been asking themselves: “So, what next? Where do we go from here? How can we complete the task which we have been given?” In this moment of vulnerability, the Spirit came upon those gathered and filled them with many gifts which they were to employ in the spreading of the Gospel.
As St. Paul tells us, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Cor. 12:7). Do we recognize the manifestation of the Spirit in our own lives? Do we use that which the Spirit has given us as the disciples did, to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth? This Pentecost, may we be filled with the same hopeful joy that filled the disciples as they awaited the coming of the Spirit promised to them by Christ, and in this joy may we be prepared to receive and utilize the bounteous gifts that the Spirit gifts to each of us.