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Pentecost Sunday: The Spirit: the law of the new Israel

Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave them alone and that he would send the Spirit (John 14:16,26). Today we celebrate the feast of that gift of the Risen One. John has placed the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Easter to show that the Spirit is the gift of the Risen One. 
Luke places it after 50 days of the resurrection to coincide with Pentecost a very ancient Jewish holiday. It commemorated the arrival of the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. We all remember what happened in that place: Moses climbed the mountain; he encountered God and received the Law to be transmitted to his people.
Before receiving the outpouring of the Spirit, the world was like a big bramble, a fruitless tree. In order to produce fruits God decided to change the hearts of people. With a new heart—he thought—they would no longer have any need of an external law. They would have done good by following the impulses coming from within them.
Here is what the law of the Spirit is: it is the new heart; it is God’s life. When it enters in a person, it transforms him and from bramble, it becomes a fruitful tree, able to spontaneously produce the works of God.
When a person is filled with the Spirit, something unheard of happens in him. He loves with the love of God himself. From that moment “he does not need someone to teach him” (1 John 2:27); he won’t require another law. John comes to say that the man animated by the Spirit becomes even incapable of sinning, “Those born of God do not sin, for the seed of God remains in them; they cannot sin because they are born of God” (1 John 3:9).
And what about the thunder, the wind, the fire? This matches also the law-giving scene of Exodus. “All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning and heard the blast of the trumpet and saw the mountain smoking” (Exodus 20:18).
The rabbis said that at Sinai, on the day of Pentecost, when God gave the Law, his words took the form of seventy tongues of fire, indicating that the Torah was destined to all peoples (thought to be exactly seventy at that time).
And the many languages spoken by the apostles? Probably Luke refers to a common phenomenon in the early Church. After receiving the Spirit, the believers began to praise God in a state of exaltation. As if in ecstasy, they uttered strange words in other languages.
Luke has used this phenomenon in a symbolic sense to teach about the universality of the Church. The Spirit is a gift meant for all persons and all peoples. Faced with this gift of God, all barriers of language, race and tribe collapse. On the day of Pentecost, the opposite of what happened at Babel occurred (Genesis 11:1-9).
 ● Father Fernando Armellini
 Claretian Publications
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF