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June 23, 2024

Homily One for the Feast of Pentecost (St. John of Kronstadt)

 
By St. John of Kronstadt

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God lives in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16).

What is the current feast?

That our Lord Jesus Christ, who ascended from us into heaven, although He did not leave us, sent, according to the promise, on the fiftieth day after His resurrection from the dead from God His Father, the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Most Holy Trinity, to the Apostles and other believers who were with them in the Jerusalem upper room, in which they remained in common, fervent prayer. God the Holy Spirit, the Life-giver, who proceeds from God the Father, and is worshiped with Him and the Son and is always glorified together with Them, descended on the Apostles and others in the form of tongues of fire; from which they were suddenly reborn, illuminated, enlightened, made wise and they began to speak in different languages which they did not know before about the great deeds of God. But let us listen to how Saint Luke the Evangelist, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, reports about this greatest event.

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, 'Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?... We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.' So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, 'Whatever could this mean? Others mocking said, 'They are full of new wine.'... But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, 'Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: - And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth below'" (Acts 2:1-36).

Then, the Apostle Peter, mentioned in his speech how the Jews unrighteously and wickedly treated the Lord and Christ Jesus, killing him on the cross at the hands of the pagans, and how He was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He poured out what they themselves see and hear. When the people listened to the entire speech of the Apostle, they were moved and said to Peter and the other Apostles: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."... Then those who [m]gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:37-41).

This is the story of the great event that we are celebrating today. This event is immeasurable in importance, fruitfulness and salvation for the entire Christian Church: this day is the day of the actual foundation of the Christian Church, or the Christian society of those saved in Christ. On this day the first shepherds, the Apostles, were consecrated by the Holy Spirit, from whose succession we, your shepherds, received the grace of the priesthood. On this day, the saving mysteries that are still performed in the Church through your priests received effect. The apostles and other believers were given the gift of speech and wisdom for preaching the gospel to all nations and an abundant gift of wondrous miracles, with which they, both at that time and subsequently, attracted many to faith in Christ and saved many human souls. From that time on, the Holy Spirit descended into the world, another Comforter besides the Lord Jesus Christ, equal to Him, equal in glory and consubstantial with Him and God the Father. Jesus Christ, having completed the work of saving the human race, through His incarnation and life on earth, through His preaching, countless miracles, blessings to those suffering, through His passion, death and resurrection from the dead, ascended to heaven to the Father and instead of Himself sent the Spirit from God the Father, that He may organize the work of human salvation, for there are three persons in God's one essence and inseparable, and each equally participates in the salvation of the human race. And so the desert of the human race flourished, as the Church sings, and from this event, which we celebrate today, the Holy Spirit, having revived it, showed sovereign, fruitful and irresistible power in the militant Church: in the exploits of the Apostles, Martyrs, Hierarchs, strengthening them with joy and with joy they courageously endured countless hellish sufferings for Christ who performed innumerable miracles in them and through them. From this event, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostles and their holy successors, spread the preaching of the gospel throughout the world and through this preaching increased and expanded the Church throughout the universe. He made the Holy Fathers wise to overthrow all the errors of heretics, compose divinely-wise scriptures and preserve our faith holy and immaculate to this day. The Holy Spirit made Saints and glorified countless people who pleased God with miracles and incorruption of relics, and to this day contributes to the salvation of each of us.

My brethren! Without the Holy Spirit there is no true life in a person, there is no peace in the soul, there is no light of God, there is no truth, holiness, true joy and blessedness. Without the Spirit of God there cannot be in us and there is no true faith, hope and love, holy simplicity, purity of heart, no true virtue - and there is no salvation. Let us always earnestly pray to God the Father, so that He will not reject us from His presence and may not take His Holy Spirit away from us. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 

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