There they sat. I picture them huddled together, whispering, fearfully, trembling anxiously, but not all of that trembling is fear based.
NO! It cannot because their fear is a fear of this world, a fear of what trouble lies ahead, of what ridicule and torment await their departure from the room, of the very real possibility a painful demise lurks if they go forth and do what they know they must do, what their hearts long to do, what their souls rejoice in doing.
Every fiber of their being calls out within each man to speak of the deeds of Christ, to tell of the Father, to spread the Word. This is what they were BORN to do,
And yet, no man present knows quite how to achieve this. Each feels inadequate and unready, worthless when faced with the task ahead of him. They sit trapped, locking themselves in the Upper Room unsure of how to say what is in their souls.
Like snapshots, memories pass through each man’s mind.
Was it really only a few short weeks ago they had had such a limited vision of their friend Jesus Christ?
Was it really only a few short weeks ago they had walked by His side and thought healing a leper, or curing a woman with hemorrhages, or making the blind see was amazing?
Was it only just a few short weeks ago that they learned how to forgive as in the case of the woman caught in adultery, or how to Love their neighbor as the Good Samaritan did, or how even faith the size of a mustard seed could transform beautifully?
And then the disciples question themselves, not with condemnation, but with awe and wonder, what about that faith the size of a mustard seed?
Had they had even that mustard seed of faith?
When they watched their Lord and Savior condemned to death, when they’d seen Him stumble and fall, not once, not twice, but three times on the road to the Cross, when they had watched Him take His last breath and then be stabbed in the unflinching side of His abdomen, when they’d taken Him down from the Cross and placed the big stone in front of His tomb…
Had they had not even been a mustard seed of faith yet?
There is no self-condemnation in their musings. Jesus taught them to not condemn, but they cannot help wondering how they could have seen and heard and listened to and touched and embraced the flesh and blood of their risen Lord for a full 50 days after His crucifixion and still have this lingering fear of the unknown on this earth.
They believe, but there is a bit of turmoil still lingering within each of them. They know they have a mission, a frightening mission perhaps, but one they would take up gladly…if only they knew how to begin.
They are on a path no man has traveled before. How do they begin to tell people who have never heard of Jesus Christ, who worship the sun, the moon, and the stars, who have been so beaten down by pain and suffering and worthlessness that they truly believe there is no God, about the Man who died for them?
The men cast surreptitious glances at one another, trying not to let anyone else know of each other’s doubts, but each knows the motley crew they are. They have little influence and power. They are hardly eloquent speakers, gifted writers, wealthy politicians. They do not want to doubt their ability to spread the Word Jesus gave them, but they don’t see how they could…?
And in the midst of the these fearful, doubting, but honest, good, and worthy men sits a woman dressed in blue, A veil covers her hair, but sweaty little tendrils peak out and frame her face in a halo of auburn curls. Her complexion is peaches and cream unmarred by stress or worry. Her mouth is relaxed and, if one looks carefully, smiling gently and moving ever so slightly as she sweeps her eyes from one man to the next and then up to Heaven again. She alone is unafraid, strong, serene, beautiful, and she is praying silently to her Lord, both her Father and her Son. She knows not what lies ahead, but she knows He will provide – and that is enough.
And suddenly, a wind like none has seen before sweeps through the room. The disciples cry out momentarily in fear and disbelief. Had someone broken through the lock on the door? Had someone found their hiding place, the same place that had kept Jesus safe through His Last Supper? What had gotten into the Upper Room?
And then they recall, it was only a few short days before Jesus’ death that He had promised to send His Advocate. They remember His words:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you will know it because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you.
With wonder they begin to look around, to really look around and they realize, despite the force of the wind, the thunderous roar in their ears, the whistle of its rush through the cracks in the doorframe, there is no accompanying destruction with this wind.
On the contrary, there is a building strength growing within them; they look again and see Fire descending in forked tongues above the heads of those sitting around them. The fire dances and glows with a radiance that rivals what they’d only imagined from tales from their childhood hearing of Moses and the burning bush. This is a fire that burns hotter and brighter and more steadily than any manmade flame ever could.
This is the Fire of the Holy Spirit!
At first one hand points to the spot above His friend’s head, and he begins to laugh sensing what is going on. Cautiously, the friend laughs back, a slight chuckle of amazement, and begins to speak. When his mouth is opened, the disciple realizes he can speak many languages – they all can!
They are given the ability to speak the Word of God.
The one Jesus Christ promised to send has come!
There was no more fear, no more doubt, no more uncertainty or questioning of their worthiness. They were not worthy, but they don’t have to be!
Jesus, always true to His Word, has sent His Advocate, the Holy Spirit to Live, really LIVE within each of them. From this point forward, there would be strength and power and Grace and ability within them to reach others through the Holy Spirit.
And with no more wasted time, they leave the dreariness of the Upper Room and begin speaking of Love and Forgiveness and Mercy and Grace and Truth and Life and Light and the Virtues that are perfect only in the Trinity – of which they now understand although others cannot see.
And Peter went out into the crowds, and in a very short time that day helped baptize many, “…and about three thousand were added that day.” (Acts 2:41)
As I pray the Holy Rosary, reflecting on one aspect of Jesus’ life for each of its 50 beads, it is always this scene that I most look forward to with a boost of confidence. I sit up a bit straighter. I smile more broadly. I know I am a nothing, a nobody, and a not-good-enough, and yet, because of my Lord, I am Loved and cared for and made strong in the Three Parts of the Trinity. This reception of the Holy Spirit in the wind and fire burns my soul and makes me know the truth behind the phrase, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Know the Holy Spirit resides in you too. If you are stuck in an upper room, knowing there is a God, but wondering how to enact His plan or what His plan is for you, don’t give up. Hang on to that mustard seed of faith and anticipate with joy what wind and fire the Lord will bring into your life that you did not see coming!