This Pentecost Day, are we marching toward heaven or hell?
By: By Msgr. Albert Hallin
Pentecost Sunday, June 8
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1,24,29-30,31,34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7,12-13; Sequence: Veni, Sancte Spiritus; John 20:19-23
Step back for a moment and take a long, hard look at the whole sweep of God’s plan to save mankind from the disaster of a lifestyle of mortal sin.
It’s Pentecost! Jesus has ascended in triumph in our human nature with the five wounds adorning His resurrected and glorified human nature — the promise of our own glorified, resurrected human nature.
With Pentecost, the whole salvation enterprise begins. It will involve turning around the up-to-now trek of sinful humanity that looked ever so much like the Bataan Death March. Jesus is determined to turn that death march into a victory march, but what a different approach he uses this time.
Jesus began the process by almost sneaking into the world in a kind of private encounter with the “New Woman,” the “New Eve,” and being born in the least of the cities of Judah. Now the whole enterprise begins with noise, wind, fire and a torrent of powerful words from Peter that have people shouting, “Brothers, what must we do?”
Can Jesus pull it off? How bad is the situation? Is the salvation of sinful mankind even possible? Is the risk God is taking proper?
MADE FOR GOD
We know now that God has never changed His plan for mankind. We were made for Him as our destiny. He never rejected us — we rejected him. We created and we create the moral problem that alienates us from God: mortal sin. God did not design human beings for hell. He never wanted anything for us but a love relationship.
Second, we know that even after mankind’s sinful decision resulted in alienation from God, God refused to accept that as final. Unfortunately for us, mankind did not respond to their sinful alienation from God with sorrow and repentance. They — we — just went away!
Remember the story of the Prodigal Son: “And he went off to a faraway country where he spent all his money in riotous living.” Too bad that this pattern of sinning and running away from the only Person who can make us right again has become ingrained in our being.
Third, it is clear that God simply decided not to allow our choice to be alienated from Him by a lifestyle of serious sin to stand. He starts the process of reversing our course and breaking the hold of the evil one by quietly starting over with a New Woman and New Man who would be a New Model. The Son of God would be a Son of Man!
True God and true man, Jesus would reverse mankind’s death march toward hell and turn it into a victory march toward heaven.
GOD FIGHTS FOR US
This is what this feast day is all about. This day, God the Holy Spirit launches the revolution. This day, the evil one — the emperor of hate and moral destruction — knew that the final battle had begun for the ownership of you and me and every human being. This day he knew that the final battle had begun in a war that he cannot ultimately win, because God fights for us!
Oh, the evil one may win a battle or two, but he cannot ultimately win the war. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit will prevail. The leaders of the revolution hear the words: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.” These are the worst words the evil one could have heard — men, wielding God’s power to break his hold.
The evil one almost won. He almost had us convinced that sin is inevitable and its consequences are irreversible. This is the feast of the resounding shout of the Holy Spirit: “Not so!”
Where are you on this Pentecost Day? Are you marching in the victory parade or in the death march? The Holy Spirit is waiting for your answer. He doesn’t want just your words. He wants to know the texture of your lifestyle. He gives the power. Open your spirit to him — now.
Msgr. Albert Hallin has been a priest of the Diocese of Peoria for more than 50 years. Granted senior status and named pastor emeritus of St. Boniface, Seymour, in 2012, he resides in Champaign.