St Aelred on Pentecost

A few days ago we sent Christ on ahead to the heavenly kingdom, so that in all fairness we might have in return whatever heaven held that should be sweet to our desire. The full sweetness of earth is Christ’s human nature; the full sweetness of heaven Christ’s (divine) Spirit. Thus a more profitable bargain was struck: Christ’s human nature ascended from us to heaven, and on us today Christ’s Spirit has come down. …

To be sure, the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples before our Lords’s ascension when he said “Receive the Holy Spirit: if you forgive anyon’e sins, they are forgiven; if you declare them unforgiven, unforgiven they remain”; but before the day of Pentecost the Spirit’s voice was still in a sense unheard. From this day onward, however, the voice of the Lord has resounded over the waters; … [it] speaks with strength… in majesty… [it] fells the cedars …[and] strikes flaring fire … [and] shakes the desert … and all will cry out, ‘Glory’!”

[from a homily at Pentecost by St Aelred of Rievaulx]

Wonderful teaching. In Christ the full, created, sweetness of creation has entered into the life of God; in the Spirit the full, uncreated sweetness of the creating God has entered into us.

The Church does not have its birthday today so much as its coming of age, its barmitzvah. It was born with Noah, had its childhood in the history of Israel under prophets, judges, kings and oppressors, and now on Pentecost the Church, the new Israel, emerges from the old Israel, mature though not yet completed.

It is in this mature Body, the Church, that now the voice of the Spirit can be heard in clarity, with authority. But the Spirit makes does not make the Church his herald or spokesman. The Spirit establishes the Church as the Body of Christ, and its voice is the voice of the Spirit of Christ himself.