By Deborah Kendrick
During forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus would appear and teach His followers, but after those days came to a close, He ascended to Heaven.
In four days we will celebrate the Ascension when Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father. Unknown to us is whether or not as the time drew closer the disciples perceived His imminent departure. On this momentous day, unlike the hour of His Passion when all but John had fled in fear, they were all with Him in Bethany.
His instructions were specific: Do not leave Jerusalem. Wait for what the Father has promised. John baptized with water. You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Their eyes, however, were still focused on an earthly dominion. They asked: Is it at this time that You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?
It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall by My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. Acts 1:7&8
Then, while they looked on, Jesus was lifted up and carried by a cloud out of their sight. They were present. They saw it with their own eyes. Like Elisha watching Elijah taken into Heaven and receiving the mantle – the anointing – of Elijah, the apostles were marked men. They would now receive the promise – the seal of the Holy Spirit in their lives. From that there would be no turning back.
Although we are not told how many witnesses saw Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, we do know that 120 obeyed the instructions; they waited in an upper room in Jerusalem for the fulfillment of the promise.
Herein lies a dilemma in the lives of many Christians today: while we have embraced Jesus from the Annunciation to His Ascension, have we waited to receive the fullness, the Presence and the Power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives?
Many in the Church today are similar to the Christians Paul encountered in Ephesus. Paul asked if when they believed, they had received the Holy Spirit. They replied, “We have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” Acts 19: 1-6
Two thousand years later, Christians the world over have heard only the name of the Third Person of the Trinity. While the Holy Spirit is planted like a seed at each baptism, a seed needs to grow. We must water the seed of our baptism, no longer leaving it buried deep inside.
As a convert, my own journey of encounter with the Holy Spirit was outside the walls of the Catholic Church. One summer evening in my twenties, I wandered into a Pentecostal Church in Canada. At the end of the meeting, the preacher asked everyone who wanted more of Jesus to come forward for prayer. As they prayed for me, I began to speak in a language unknown by me. The people around me began thanking the Lord that I had received “The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”
My life changed instantly. A sharp sword of discernment was activated on the inside of me. Where there had been uncertainly, weakness and deception, I could see clearly the difference between good and evil, the holy and unholy, the sacred and profane. I watered the seed of His Presence by praying in the gift of the Heavenly language He had given me. Even more glorious, I discovered I could sing to God in this language. The Presence of the Holy Spirit became a constant companion, revealing the scriptures (it was later that I found out He had written The Book), speaking words of instruction, breathing wisdom into my heart. The Holy Spirit was always working for good. My deepest desire was for Him to grow and manifest Himself and I was learning how to cooperate with Him. Often by pushing me out of my comfort zone, He taught me how to be bold for Jesus.
Among the life-changing days, one about two years later stands out from all the rest. I was reading my Bible when a scream pierced my solitude. I rushed downstairs and out the front door searching where it was coming from. Across the street, a very pregnant woman had fallen down a full flight of steps, sprawled out on the landing. As I held her in my arms, she stopped breathing. Her heart stopped beating. Her eyes went vacant. I am sure somewhere within me I said, “God help us.” Truthfully, of that I have no remembrance. What I do remember and will never forget is the Power that came upon me and took over me. Without thinking and having never been in this situation before, I suddenly knew exactly what to do. As I breathed life into this woman and she continued to withdraw from me, a Voice of commanding authority spoke through me into her, ordering her to “Live!” I alternated that with Breathe! I do not know how long I contended for her life; there was never an inclination to stop. But I witnessed the miraculous moment this soon-to-be-mother returned to her body. I watched Death lose its power and release its grip over another person’s life – actually, over three person’s lives as she was carrying twins. To God be the Glory!
Water the seed. Watch it grow. And when His power comes upon you, you will be witnesses to the ends of the earth, just as Jesus promised.
HOLY SPIRIT, WE WELCOME YOU IN OUR LIVES. YOU ARE THE CANDLE OF THE LORD SEARCHING OUR INMOST PARTS. YOU ARE STIRRING OUR HEARTS AS YOU LEAD US INTO ALL TRUTH. YOU ARE EVER REVEALING JESUS AND TEACHING US TO NUMBER OUR DAYS THAT WE MAY PRESENT TO YOU A HEART OF WISDOM. GRACE US TO EMBRACE, RECEIVE AND USE THE GIFTS THAT YOU GIVE AT PENTECOST THAT WE MAY MANIFEST YOUR GLORY SO OTHERS WILL SEE AND BELIEVE IN JESUS. AMEN.
About the Author:
Deborah Kendrick came into the Catholic Church in 2011 through her interaction with Catholics in ecumenical meetings though out Europe, where she was a conference speaker and led retreats for twenty years. During her testimony, she says, “The French Catholics just loved me into the Church.” Deborah’s heart is to see people know and receive the love God has for them which encompasses a New Pentecost for the new evangelization. “God is calling us closer in this hour. Open hearts bring an open Heaven.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.