The following excerpt from Adrienne von Speyr’s, “Handmaid of the Lord” [pgs. 137-138] really gave me a new perspective on what exactly the coming of the Holy Spirit did for the Apostles; she has given me a fuller understanding of the freedom and authority they received, and why. She speaks of them as they wait and pray in the upper room:
They are not the whole of Christianity; there are many who are not among them. But they were set apart by the Lord during his lifetime and selected for service. They now know that they are to continue this service and, praying, they await God’s further instructions. For the moment they are still as if constrained. Each of them holds to what the Lord had shown and given him while still among them. Each one’s whole Christian existence is determined by the earthly words and deeds of the Lord, by an all-too-human — albeit grace-given — bond between him and the Lord.
And now, at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends upon them: the Spirit which had spoken to them before through the mouth of the Lord is now bestowed on them as the Spirit of the Lord, which speaks to them of him and reveals him. Thus every merely earthly bond, every merely literal understanding of his words, is transformed into a spiritual freedom and a spiritual understanding from within. Henceforth none of them is limited to recalling what he personally had experienced with the Lord in order to possess a standard, a canon of the truth that he is to proclaim at the Lord’s command. Through the Holy Spirit each one receives a total image of the Lord, an understanding of the fullness of God. That makes them free and gives them the rights of maturity in dealing with the truth of the gospel. They are no longer held to a meticulously exact repetition of words handed down. They can themselves give shape to the message without fear of deviating from their mission. They may interpret the words without distancing themselves from their kernel. By the power of the Spirit who guides them they can also act with authority and independence in the priestly functions that the Lord, through his suffering, had acquired for them and given them. But this expansion of all personal powers, this coming of age of the individual Christian, goes hand in hand with a much profounder bond to the community of the Catholic Church; and the Church is embodied by the Mother of the Lord in its midst.
May you all have a beautiful and blessed Pentecost this year.