Pentecost Is the Feast of God in Us

User’s Guide to Sunday, May 19

Holy Spirit mosiac, St. Charles Church, Monaco
Holy Spirit mosiac, St. Charles Church, Monaco (photo: Shutterstock)

Sunday, May 19, is Pentecost. Mass readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23.

Pentecost is a feast about fire, a transformative, refining, purifying fire that the Lord wants to kindle in us. It is a necessary fire.

Consider two images of the Holy Spirit, recalling Psalm 50, which says, “Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest.” 


Rushing Wind 

The text from Acts says, “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.”

Spirit refers to breath, preserved in the word “respiration,” which is the act of breathing. The Spirit of God is the breath of God, the Ruah Adonai

Recall especially a text from Genesis 2:7, stating, “then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” 

The very Spirit of God was breathed into Adam. He later lost this gift, dying spiritually when he sinned.

In this passage from Acts, there is an amazing and wonderful resuscitation of the human person: These first Christians experience the rushing wind of God’s Spirit breathing spiritual life back into them. God does C.P.R. and brings humanity, dead in sin, back to life! 

The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us once again as in a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).

 It has been said that Christmas is the feast of God with us, Good Friday is the feast of God for us, but Pentecost is the feast of God in us.

Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Tongues of Fire

Note also the other image in Acts:

“Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.”

The Bible often speaks of God as fire or in fiery terms: 

  • Moses saw him as a burning bush. 
  • God led the people out of Egypt through the desert as a pillar of fire.
  • Moses went up onto a fiery Mount Sinai, where God was. 
  • Scriptures also call God a holy fire, a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) and a refining fire (Isaiah 48:10; Jeremiah 9:7; Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:3). 

Our God, who is a holy fire, comes to dwell in us through his Holy Spirit. He refines us by burning away our sins and purifying us. 

Pentecost reminds us that we must be set afire by God’s love.

Pope Francis participates in Mass on the solemnity of Pentecost, May 19, 2024

Pope Francis on Pentecost: The Holy Spirit’s Work in Us Is Powerful

In his homily, Pope Francis explained how the Holy Spirit helps us to overcome sinful passions and then gently plants the seeds of virtue and helps them to grow. The Pope also recommended that people spend time praying in silence in Eucharistic adoration to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.