“God made Lord and Christ, the One you have crucified” (read Acts 2:14-36)
It is the first apostolic speech or sermon. Others follow, different according to the speakers or the listeners. I am underlining some aspects that, for us, are also questions.
1. Peter, like Jesus, doesn’t preach a doctrine, but explains a visible fact. What happens at Pentecost is sign that the Crucified and Risen Lord fulfills the promise made to Israel and opened to all peoples. Doctrines make one curious; real happenings, however, “pierce the heart” and make us ask ourselves: “What should we do?”
2. Peter interprets what happens in the light of the Bible: the disciples are not full of wine, but drunk with joy. They have the Holy Spirit, the Love that moves all things and starts the definitive, beautiful world. It is the ultimate gift: God’s very life which is offered to every person.
3. The Spirit makes us children of God, regardless of sex, age and social, cultural or ethnic conditions. Men and women, young and old, slaves and free people, Hebrews or not, Greek or barbarians, we all live because of one and the same Spirit: God’s love towards all. The old change into dreams the disenchanted visions of the past; the young translate their dreams into constructive visions of the future.
4. The Spirit is Jesus’ gift, that Jesus whom we have directly or indirectly nailed on the cross. He indeed is Lord and Christ; in His Name, there is salvation for all. In fact, He has given His life in order to overcome the evil of the world, which is common to all, both friends and enemies.
5. The end of the speech is conversion: changing our way of thinking and acting, in order to acknowledge evil as such, and to turn to good.
6. Many people say that things were better in the past. It was a golden age, cherished memory of our youth. Or things may be better in the future when, hopefully, improvements would have been allowed. Pentecost overturns this perspective. The best time is now the only time that is there. And only in what is there can we meet the One–who–is. Some Christians criticize the uncertainty of the present time and take refuge in the past as in a cave. No barrier, however, can stop the flow of history that heads where it has to. Disappointments, because of loss of power and privileges, hinder them from seeing that our time has not slipped out of God’s hands. On the contrary, it is always God Himself who, only in the present, surrenders Himself into our hands. God was, is and will always be the everlasting fleeting moment: “modern and everyday” by essence, in every here and now, God is the One–who–is. The cause of dechristianization and God’s eclipse is not atheism, but the blindness of a hierarchy that, out of fear, shuts their eyes to God’s presence in the world.
7. Those who do not believe that God acts and reveals Himself in history and go against what He is doing, look for security in powerful positions and exempt themselves from the challenges of the present. Both attitudes, fortunately, are on the way out. The Church is born by that God who loved the world so much that He gave for it his own Son. His “empathetic glance” towards everybody frees the Church from the fog of power illusions and power fears : it opens her eyes. Because of this, those who love their fellow human beings and their destiny will build the Church; whereas those who only love the Church will destroy it.
8. Jesus’ Spirit comes from the Cross, where the evil of the world is defeated. This Spirit is constantly at work to change us into its image so that God may be ever more present in everything. Today, the fruits of the Spirit – brotherhood and freedom, love and justice, peace and respect for human rights – are widespread more than yesterday. Those who cry for the previous order of “Christianity” would like to bring back even today the burning of heretics and crusades, inquisition and excommunications in God’s name. Let us get out of our fears and hurry to ascribe to God of today in today’s world.
9. All religions claim to be true. For the God of Jesus, Father of all, a criterion of truth is charity. Those who pay back evil with evil are enemies among themselves because they are of the same kind. Those who pay back evil with good have God’s Spirit and are nobody’s enemies. The history of the Church ought to teach us to stop fighting tomorrow’s friends with yesterday’s enemies. Then, and only then, will we still and always witness to the joy of the Risen Jesus.