Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, the Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Gracious One.
We believe that the Holy Spirit is one of the Trinity which is one in essence and that, as such, the Spirit has been, is, and always will be the provider all good things. Pentecost celebrates the Spirit's gushing forth to fulfill that which had been foretold in prophecy. The Holy Trinity, before Pentecost, had been revealed gradually, according to the capacity of God's people to receive.
The scripture reading from Acts tells the story. The apostles, the Theotokos, and the other women disciples were gathered in a room much like the room where the apostles had broken bread with our Lord at the Last Supper, and the room where they later gathered in sorrow, confusion, and pain after His crucifixion. They were a group of simple, unlearned fisherman who had been gathered together from various places. This group, together with the rest of the faithful, were transformed through the events of Pentecost to become evangelical witnesses and living cornerstones of Christ's new Church.
The day of Pentecost is foreshadowed in the Hebrew Scriptures in several places, all of which refer to the presence of the Holy Spirit:
And Moses gathered seventy from the elders of the people, and set them round the Tabernacle. And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke unto Moses, and took of the Spirit that was upon him and gave it unto the seventy elders. And it came to pass that, when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied in the camp (Numbers 11:17).
And it will come to pass . . . that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. For upon My servants and upon My handmaids in those days will I pour out of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy (Joel 2:28-29).
I will give you a new heart, and a new Spirit will I give you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes . . . and you shall be My people, and I will be your God (Ezekial 36:26-28).
There were many times, when Christ's disciples, even some of the twelve, seemed to have hearts of stone. Christ labored throughout His ministry to replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. The sins of pride and hardness of heart caused many to scorn Him. And after the crucifixion, despite all of His teaching and example, doubt and fear caused the eleven to hide.
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." Now when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. He then said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (John 20:19-23).
Finally, on the day of Pentecost, those same friends who had fallen asleep in the garden of Gethsemane, and who needed to see His wounds to believe, were awakened by a great gush of wind, and their feeble attempts at conventional human comprehension of God were finally vivified. In one moment the breath of the Holy Spirit brought life, as it did in the Garden of Eden. Doubt and fear departed. Hardness of heart and its sinful fruits of pride and division were transformed into mutual love, gratitude, and service to others.
The salvation proclaimed by the Prophets and fulfilled by Christ's coming to dwell among us was finally understood by the unlearned fishermen only when this "hidden and secret wisdom of God" was given personally to each of them by the Holy Spirit. And with this same knowledge they were given the gift of speech in many tongues in order to proclaim this wisdom to all the world. In order to catch the many nations and bring them to the Faith, they were given the personal authority of the Spirit to preach on things divine. After the risen Christ ascended, the Spirit, the Comforter, came to take His place, living not just among the people, but within the people, in order to radiate out from the people in a community of love.
The listening crowd was amazed, for each of them heard the Apostles speaking of the wonderful works of God in their own native language, as the Spirit bestowed the gift upon them. This strange wonder was thought to be drunkenness by the unbelievers, but to the believers it became the inspiration to spread the good news of Christ with great fervor.
At the tower of Babel the tongues were confounded because of the people's audacity, but at Pentecost the apostles' tongues were set free by the glory of Divine knowledge. God had condemned the impious because of their offense; Christ enlightened the fishermen by the Spirit. The confusion of tongues was brought for punishment, but the concord of tongues was inaugurated as the sign of salvation. Destruction of community was the fruit of the division at Babel, but peace and harmony are the fruit of a community united in the Spirit.
God's promise to unite us in one Spirit was fulfilled at Pentecost, will be fulfilled at the Second Coming, and is being fulfilled here and now. When our hearts cry out in unison to receive the Spirit of God, we are given the full understanding that we have already been formed as one community in God's love.