Actually, there are two descriptions of Pentecost, one by John in the Gospel and one by Luke in the First Reading.
It is important that in both accounts, the Holy Spirit is pictured as coming upon the people when they are gathered together. It is to the community of the church that God sends His Spirit, and it is in the midst of that community that we find him.
But that does not at all mean that in the Spirit we are simply one of a crowd, nameless, faceless numbers. In St Luke’s account the fire separated and settled over each person as individual tongues of flame, each burning with a personal fire.
So it is with us as well. The fire of Pentecost singles each of us out, gives each of us a face and a name indeed, with a value, a dignity, a purpose that is truly individual, truly unique.
Because of Pentecost, because of the flame that has been settled over each of us, every one of us will be called upon, in our own way, to bring the power of the Holy Spirit to bear upon the task of building and nurturing the people of God.
We may be given the chance to help calm someone’s fears. We may be given the chance to help clear up someone’s doubt or misunderstanding. We may be given the insight that someone around us is in trouble, needs an ear. We may be given the chance to reassure someone in whatever his or her own role in life may be. We may be given the chance to laugh, to help someone else to laugh, to help make someone else’s experience of life more pleasing, more enjoyable.
A sense of humour is a divine power. A sense of beauty is a divine power, and we may be given the chance to grow more sensitive to that or to help someone else do so, to realise that God’s world, with all of his creatures, is a very pleasant thing to see and feel and hear.
Perhaps the clearest sign of all of the presence of the Holy Spirit is courage. It was fear that kept the Apostles huddled in that upper room before the first Pentecost, and the first effect of that coming was that they acted in spite of their fears.
Fear shackles us just as it did them. The doubts that we have as to our ability to cope with a difficult world. The reluctance that we feel to risk failure, reflection and disappointment. The message is so clear this Pentecost. It is, to each of us, take courage. You have been chosen by God, filled by him with a Holy fire, and sealed with a sacred mission. You have much to do. In Christ’s word from the Gospel “As the Father has sent me, so I send you”.