By Crystal Crocker
My husband paid the driver, as our small group emerged into the morning sun and walked briskly down the cobblestones toward the obelisk. We were to meet our guide there at 8 o’clock sharp. He would be in black was our only description. My concern for locating one dressed in black among the probability of many dressed in black quickly evaporated as we entered an empty plaza.
“Most Romans are late risers,” he smiled as he shook our hands. “It doesn’t get crowded around here until after 9 o’clock. We will have the place almost to ourselves.”
The “place” he spoke of was St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Our small group would be given a personal tour from our guide, a seminarian who was attending studies at the Pontifical North American College (NAC). He began with a question: “If Jesus lived, was crucified, died, and resurrected in the small area around Jerusalem, then why are we here? Why is the headquarters of the Catholic Church miles away in Rome?”
Good question! The answer begins today with Pentecost.
Today’s readings allow us to enter the small upper room with the apostles and await the Advocate, the one Jesus promised would come.
“And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house … And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:2-4)
Like the Apostles, who were strengthened in their mission as witnesses to Jesus and announced the good news to all peoples, we are to do the same. We, who believe in Jesus Christ, have a duty to proclaim that Jesus died and is risen for our salvation. But how are we to do this—this duty to proclaim?
From Easter to Pentecost, the readings show the joys and struggles of the early Church. Many times, it seemed impossible for them to make a difference in people’s lives and build followers. It can seem impossible for us, too, but nothing is impossible for the Holy Spirit. If we study their actions, we can understand what ours should be as well.
- They devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14).
- They knew a deep relationship with Jesus and continued to share his story with family and friends.
- They developed new relationships with others and then told them the story.
- They trusted in the gifts of the Holy Spirit to bring them wisdom, courage, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.
We cannot give what we do not have, and so we must devote ourselves to prayer so we can deepen our relationship with Jesus and proclaim His story of salvation. But to do this we must also ask for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Then we will know the answer to the question, “If Jesus lived, was crucified, died, and resurrected in the small area around Jerusalem, then why is the headquarters of the Catholic Church miles away in Rome?”
We will answer that Jesus commissioned the apostles to “go … and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), and they did, including going to Rome, which for them was the center of the world with all of the difficulties of a sinful, secular society, consumed with materialism and self-centered blindness. It seemed an impossible task! But from the upper room on Pentecost to Rome, the center of the world, the Holy Spirit first brought Peter and the apostles, then Paul and many others to persevere, suffer, and sacrifice to bring forth the Church! In a short amount of time, the followers of these first disciples transformed the mighty Roman Empire from a pagan society to Christianity, and the world has never been the same!
We are given the same commission to continue to bring others to the Church. Filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are able to go to our small corners of the world and proclaim the truth, love, and salvation of Jesus Christ.
Come, Holy Spirit!
About the Author:
Crystal Crocker is a wife, mother of four and lifelong Catholic with a zeal for evangelization. Her heart is set on love, joy, and the spiritual battle to win souls. She has led numerous Bible studies and women’s groups, lobbied to defend marriage, and chaired a Catholic celebration for 7,000 on-fire Catholics. She currently is the evangelization coordinator in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.