Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit
May 24, 2015
John 20:21-23 - Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld." (ESV - Gospel at Matins)
The Breath of Life - Theodore of Mopsuestia (A.D. 350-428) teaches that after Jesus breathed on them he mentioned the Spirit. Why? So that his disciples would believe that the body was made imperishable through the resurrection because of the power of the Spirit. He said to them, you must truly believe in what has been said to you and must have no doubts about the resurrection. You must not reject the honor of the apostolate because you are scared of being sent as messengers of a new doctrine into the world. You will indeed receive the effect of the Spirit, which, at the right time, will confer on you resurrection and immortality.
Through the Spirit you will receive - in this life - an amazing, supernatural strength to perform unheard-of-miracles by a mere word. You will be able to face any afflictions that may befall you because of those who oppose your preaching. And even though there were many other things to be accomplished in them through the Spirit, without mentioning them he mentioned the most important argument of all. Here, he says, is what will clearly demonstrate to you the strength of the Spirit. Indeed, as soon as you receive it you will be able to absolve the sins of whomever you want, as well as to pronounce a sentence of condemnation against anyone. If you, a man, after receiving the gift of the Spirit, will be able to do all these things that are of God – indeed, only he has the power to judge – I leave you to consider what the effectiveness of the Spirit is. Once you have received it you must no longer doubt. (Adapted from Theodore' of Mopsuesita's commentary on John)
- Vespers: Numbers 11:16,17,24-29, Joel 2:23-32, Ezekiel 36:24-28
- Matins: John 20:19-23
- Liturgy: Acts 2:1-11, John 7:37-52; 8:12