“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” (Gen 1:26) The Hebrew word for “image” translates to “figure”, “idol”, or “statue.” The clear implication is that God created us to resemble Him in great detail. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen 2:7)
This “breath of life” is consistently found, both in Scripture and in the Church. At services blessing water the priest breathes upon the waters three times to ask the Spirit to come and bless them. At baptisms the priest breathes on the person being baptized in remembrance of our Lord's action with the Apostles: “And when He has said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”(John 20:22) It is here that our Lord blesses the Apostles for what will come to them on the day of Pentecost, when in God’s time the Holy Spirit would descend upon them, filling them with Divine wisdom, authority and power.
It was not the plan of the Holy Trinity to come upon the group before our Lord's Ascension. There remained many things to be accomplished, not the least of which included His Ascension, which He foretold to His Apostles with these words:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:7-10)
Jesus says plainly that He must depart before the Spirit will arrive. And we, like His Apostles, have lived the past 10 days waiting for this day. Today, we are gathered there with them in that room. Like them, we are all “with one accord and in one place.” (Acts 2:1) Our hearts are aligned because we, like the Apostles, have been witnesses at the Lord’s Passion, we have seen His hanging from the Cross, we have helped to place His lifeless body into the tomb, we have walked in that early morning hour with the women disciples of the Lord to find the tomb empty, we have seen Him enter our room through closed doors, we have placed our fingers into the wounds in His body, we have heard Him explain all of Scripture to us, and we have been witnesses at His glorious Ascension, before which He instructed us to “go home and wait” for this day.
And here we are. Today, fire descends upon us, and our hearts are filled with things strange to men, for God comes to dwell within us, a condition He always intended for us, but because of our sins we had extricated us from the possibility. Today, He is here. We greet one another with the words, “Christ is in our midst!”, and we mean those words with all sincerity, for He is One with the Spirit and the Father, and in Him we are mystically joined to them in ways that we are unable to comprehend, but in ways that we can sense, touch, feel, know!
Who is the Holy Spirit to us? He is the One Who “is everywhere present and fills all things.” He is the “Treasury of blessings and the Giver of life.” It is for exactly this reason that we pray to Him, asking for the blessing that He will “come and abide in us,” for if He is given a home IN us BY us (because we have repented and we truly seek His will in our lives), He will then in return “cleanse us from every impurity,” and He will “save our souls.”
For He is truly the Only Good and Compassionate One!