St. John Chrysostom – Homily on Pentecost (

Let us extol the grace of the Holy Spirit in spiritual hymns, since grace has, on this day, manifested itself to us from heaven. Even though our words are inadequate to express the magnitude of this grace, we shall praise its power and activity insofar as we’re able. For the Holy Spirit delves into all things, even the profundities of divinity.

We’ re celebrating the day of Pentecost, the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles, the day of the hope of perfection, the end of expectation, the longing for salvation, the fulfilment of prayer and the image of patience. Today the Spirit Who acted to scatter the nations in the time of Heber has formed tongues of fire among the Apostles. His action of old led to the confusion of the nations, in order to rein in the brazenness of our will, and forestall the concomitant chastisement. On this occasion, however, amid tongues of fire, the deeds performed by the activity of the Holy Spirit were aimed at enabling us to receive teaching, in fulfilment of the will of God.

In the beginning, the Spirit of God moved over the water, and later, in the time of Christ, the same Holy Spirit of God rested upon Him. First He moved, and now He rested, as being one in essence, equal in honour, co-eternal with the Father and the Son.

The Holy Spirit heralded fair weather to Noah over the waters of the flood. At the waters of the Jordan, the same Holy Spirit revealed to the world the Sonship of Him Who was being baptized. Besides, the Lord had a terrifying answer for those who dared to utter blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: ‘Those who speak blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, shall not be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come’.

Declaring his desire for this Holy Spirit, David prayed to God: ‘Do not turn your countenance away from me, Lord and do not take your Holy Spirit from me’. It’s common knowledge that, where He is absent, every sort of corruption sets in. Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, an evil spirit had entered into him, and this is why David said: ‘Do not take your Holy Spirit from me’.

This same Holy Spirit sanctified the prophets, instructed the apostles and empowered the mar¬tyrs. This same Holy Spirit consecrated Isaiah, taught Ezekiel and revealed to him the resurrection of the dead. As he says: ‘The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord’ [Ezek. 37, 1]. This same Holy Spirit chose Jeremiah from his mother’s womb, and raised up Daniel to deliver Susanna: ‘God raised up by the Holy Spirit a young man whose name was Daniel’ [Sus. 1/ Dan. 13]

David loved the presence of this same Holy Spirit so much that he prayed to God, saving,
‘Your Holy Spirit shall lead me in the land of uprightness’.This same Holy Spirit of God came to dwell in Our Most Holy Lady, embracing her with the communion of the Divine Word as the Father wished, and making her the Mother of God. Filled with this same Holy Spirit, Elizabeth realized that the Lord had come to her through Our Lady and said: ‘How is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?’

Zachariah, the father of John, was filled with the same Holy Spirit and he declared that the son born to him would be the prophet and forerunner of the King Who was to come. John himself was also filled with the same Holy Spirit. The eyes of his mind were illumined, and he beheld the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit hovering over Him Who was being baptized, over Him Who baptized with the Spirit and fire.

When He was giving His Apostles His teaching in detail and strengthening their minds for the time of His Passion, the Lord Himself, by the action of the same Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Unless I depart, the Comforter will not come unto you’. Moreover, revealing to them the Spirit’s consubstantial nature, He said: ‘The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and when He comes, He will guide you into all truth’.

The holy Apostles waited expectantly for the coming of the power of this same Holy Spirit; they waited together to be clothed with power from on high, in accordance with the commandment of the Lord, Who had said: ‘Wait in the city of Jerusalem, until you are imbued with power from on high. For, behold, I shall send the promise of My Father upon you’. So it’s written that when the day of Pentecost was fully come, all the holy Apostles were assembled of one accord in one place, and the Comforter was sent to them under the appearance of tongues of fire.

They received the abundant promise of the Father and the Holy Spirit, were strengthened, and revealed Him Who was sent to them, His grace and His power. Stephen, the martyr and first deacon, was filled with the same Holy Spirit, Whom he received by the laying-on of hands of the Apostles, and performed great wonders and miracles among the people. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he saw the doors of heaven opened and the Only-begotten Son and Word of God standing in the flesh at the right hand of the power of God.

Filled with this same Holy Spirit, Paul became the preacher of divine mysteries. As Ananias said to him: ‘The Lord Saviour Himself has sent me to you, so that thou might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit’. And Paul afterwards said with assurance: ‘And I think also that I have the Spirit of God’.

The same Holy Spirit came to Cornelius and those that were to be baptized with him, and each of them spoke in his own language and magnified God. This same Holy Spirit came upon the Ethiopian eunuch after he went down into the water. He was filled with elation, and went on his way rejoicing.

This is the same Holy Spirit Who preached by the prophets, Who gave understanding to the Apostles, Who spoke to people. He was given to them by the Lord, and all their adversaries were unable to gainsay or resist Him. As the Lord said: ‘It is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father Who speaks in you’.

This Holy Spirit also ordains priests, consecrates churches, purifies altars, perfects sacrifices and cleanses people of their sins. This Holy Spirit abides with the godly, refines the righteous and guides kings. This same Holy Spirit preserved the soul of Simeon, lengthening the time of his life and reversing the rules of death, until the day when he beheld Him Who is the Redeemer of life and death. Because he had been promised by the Holy Spirit, that he wouldn’t see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

It was the same Holy Spirit Who gave strength to Elijah, and Whose power Elisha desired when he asked of Elijah: ‘I pray you, let there be a double portion of your spirit upon me’.

This Holy Spirit enlightens souls and sanctifies bodies. It is the same Holy Spirit Who descended upon the Apostles and filled them with divine wisdom. Once they had received His gifts, they were all filled with the knowledge of God. Not only were they given divine knowledge, but also spiritual gifts. Simon Magus was a stranger to the Holy Spirit, and fell to his perdition. As Peter said to him: ‘May your money perish with you, because you wanted to purchase the priceless grace of the Holy Spirit thereby’.

Therefore, my friends, let us strive to keep our bodies undefiled. Because those who have acquired a new body, which is a temple of the Holy Spirit, have become true victors over the devil. May what the Spirit of God has said come to pass in me.

Moreover, Joseph, strength¬ened by this same Holy Spirit, asked that his body not be defiled by the vile deeds of this life, since he knew that the Spirit has no truck with a body involved in sin. In this way, he earned a royal rank. This Spirit enlightened Bezaleel, so that he fashioned the tabernacle with great beauty and skill. Joshua, the son of Nun, possessing the same Spirit, be¬came a faithful heir to Moses and obtained the inheritance of the Promised Land for his people. As God said to Moses: ‘Take to yourself Joshua the son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit of God in him’.

This is the Spirit of Whom the Lord, Who, when He breathed upon His disciples after His Resurrection from the dead on the third day, said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’. And, again, it’s the same Spirit Who has vouchsafed to give eternal life to the faithful after the general resurrection from the dead, as is written: ‘You will send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created; and You will renew the face of the earth’.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are many, varied and all-powerful. As it says in a certain place: ‘By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them by the Spirit of His mouth’ [Cf. Psalm (Sept.)]. And Isaiah says: ‘The Spirit of God shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and godliness’. Saint Paul adds: ‘The Spirit of adoption and of grace’.
God’s Son and Word, Who is equally ever-existent, and equally without beginning, and Who shares the throne and the honour of God, called this Spirit ‘the Spirit Who is our Comforter’. David calls Him the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit is sent by holiness; the governing Spirit, since He has dominion over all, be¬cause all things came from Him and are kept in existence by Him; and the good Spirit, since salvation and all manner of goodness are from Him.

And what does Isaiah call Him? The Spirit of God, because He proceeds from God the Father, as God Himself tells us. Isaiah further calls Him the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, because all wisdom and good understanding have been given through Him; the Spirit of counsel and strength, because He is able to bring about that which is desired; and also the Spirit of knowledge and godliness. Ezekiel, a man of the spirit, says: ‘And I will give you a new heart and a new Spirit’.

He is one in essence, one in principle and one in counsel with the Father and the Son. Do you wish to believe? Listen to what the Scriptures say of Him: ‘When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him’. The prophet [Isaiah] further says: ‘The Lord, and His Spirit have sent me’.

Lest anyone think, from what was said, that this new Spirit would come from any creatures living or yet to come, or from any other person, He says: ‘And I will put My Spirit in you’. In the Acts of the holy Apostles, this was ex¬pressed in commandments: ‘The Holy Spirit said, “Separate Barnabas and Saul for me, for the work to which I have called them’”. And again,
‘It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us’ and ‘I will put My Spirit in you’.

Would you have it demonstrated that this was indeed His coming, as was foretold in parables, and that it was His grace acting upon the holy Apostles? Will you believe what was said? Listen to St. John the Evangelist, who says: ‘The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified’.

Paul called this Spirit the Spirit of adoption and the Spirit of grace, inasmuch as in the waters of the baptismal font we’re born again of water and the Spirit, and are adopted as [God’s] children. In the same way, the Lord said to Nicodemus: ‘Unless people are born of water and of the Spirit, they cannot enter into the kingdom of God’.

So, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption and the Spirit of grace, since grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, for those who have been born by the power of God.

Moreover, the Spirit is called the Comforter, because He’s also our advocate with the Father. And not only is He with the Father, but He’s always with us, too, as a gift.

‘And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, so that He may abide with you forever’, comforting your hearts and making them steadfast in divine patience and trust in Christ. Given that the holy Apostles re¬ceived this testament after Christ’s holy Resurrection from the dead, and that they were sent forth to teach and to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and since we’ve already been vouchsafed this true washing by the Holy Spirit, let us strive to keep our souls and our bodies undefiled as we glorify the Most holy and consubstantial Trinity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.



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