As the Psalm for today indicates, on Pentecost, God renews the world. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the abyss when God began to draw order out of chaos in creation, now the Spirit comes down to give new life and unity to God’s people. At the Fall, humanity became divided against itself. At Pentecost, these divisions were healed, so that “Jews from every nation under heaven” could understand the Apostles. The clock has been turned back on sin, and we have been brought back to a time of newness.
But, of course, this state of newness is due to grace, not magic. We still live in a world marred by sin–a marring which is hard to ignore. The accuser (the meaning of the term “Satan”) still “prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” As St. Irenaeus points out, “since we have our accuser, we need our Advocate as well.” And so God sent the Holy Spirit–the Paraclete, whose name means “advocate,” as well as “exhorter, encourager, comforter.” God wishes us to live in a state of newness, and so defends us from the oldness, and gives us strength and comfort in the midst of evil so that we are not dragged down.
What’s more, God did not simply surround the Apostles, but they were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Our renewal is not just a fresh coat of paint on an old door–we are renewed from within. Through our confirmation, we all have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Just as the Eucharist resides within the Tabernacles of churches around the world, the Holy Spirit resides within us. On those occasions when we are feeling anything but new, or distant from God, this can be helpful to reflect upon. No matter how far we think we are from God, thanks to Pentecost, God is closer than we can imagine.