After Christ had completed his mission on earth, it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of the Word, We had to give up our own life and be so transformed that we should begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit. Saint Cyril of Alexandria
Throughout the Easter Season the Scripture readings presented us with the transition undergone by the early disciples from their knowing Jesus in a human way, as an object of their perception and someone separate from them, to knowing him through their participation in his life and the corresponding transformation of their subjectivity. With the Ascension we see that with the departure of Jesus from our midst involves a kind of losing God and so losing ourselves- entering into the experience of unknowing, where we let go of our ordinary, usual ways of trying to know, grasp, understand, and contain God, in order to learn how to wait upon God’s self-gift.
On the day of Pentecost, this self-gift of God, the Holy Spirit, is given. The very life, energy and vitality of God, fills the disciples and transforms them from within. From now on it is through and with the Spirit that disciples (then and now) are in relationship with God, themselves and others. It is because of God’s self-gift that disciples are able to know for themselves the personal love of God and to love with God’s own love and so communicate this to the world. The point of Pentecost is not that the disciples have a particularly overwhelming spiritual experience. The point is that they are no longer simply themselves, separate from God. Who they are is now internally and eternally constituted by God’s Spirit. This gift of the Spirit is given in order to draw us into the ‘inside’ of God’s life, and not just as observers but as participants; in other words, to see and love as God sees and loves.
Photograph by Father Emmanuel. Excerpts from Dom Damian's Pentecost homily.