TEN Prayerful Days in the Upper Room
On the Sunday, after ten days, on the Feast of Pentecost, the Church celebrates the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Before ascending the heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ’s final promise and last order to the apostles and the disciples as well as the close followers was to wait in Jerusalem, for the Holy Spirit, the promise of God the Father. (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8) to become His witnesses all over the world.
Why did the Holy Spirit not come while Christ was present, or even immediately after his departure, but rather after 10 days? The disciples had to wait 10 days to receive the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Why did the Lord want them to pray and wait? “It was fit that they should first be brought to have a longing desire for that event, and so receive the grace. For this reason Christ Himself departed, and then the Spirit descended. It is the same with us also; for our desires towards God are then most raised, when we stand in need.” (St. John Chrysostom)
The Apostles obeyed Christ command. From the Mount of Olives, the disciples and other went straight to this Upper Room according to Christ’s farewell command to them, to wait there. In this sense let us obey His command and start our journey to the Upper Room.
The first Church prayerful prepared: “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). It was a repetition or a prolongation of the preparation and prayer through which Jesus of Nazareth prepared for the descent of the Holy Spirit at the moment of his Baptism in the Jordan, prior to the beginning of His messianic mission. Jesus’ prayer in the desert, shows that it is indispensable to pray for the timely reception of “the perfect gift from above” (James 1: 17). The community of the apostles and of the first disciples had to prepare for the reception of this very gift which comes from above, the Holy Spirit who was to initiate the mission of Christ’s Church on earth. The Church has to act in like manner. She joins herself to that assembly of the apostles in prayer together with Christ’s Mother. In this sense let us prayerfully prepare in the Upper Room.
Their prayer was with ‘one accord and one mind’. This detail indicates that an important transformation had already taken place in the hearts of the apostles. It was a sign that Jesus’ priestly prayer had begun to bear fruit. In that prayer Jesus had asked for the unity of his disciples “that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us” (Jn. 17:21). Throughout all ages and in every Christian generation this prayer of Christ for the unity of the Church is always relevant. In this sense let us continue to remain with earnest, heartfelt prayers that will go up to heaven from the Upper Room.
Their prayer was persevering: the community of the apostles devoted themselves to prayer’. It was not therefore a prayer of momentary exaltation. It was a prayer of the most complete dedication not only of the heart but also of the will. The apostles were aware of the task that awaited them. Their prayer was a fruit of the interior action of the Holy Spirit, for it is he who urges to prayer and helps one to be devoted to prayer. If the gifts of the Spirit are manifold, it must be said that during the period in the Upper Room at Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit was already at work in the secrecy of prayer, so that on the day of Pentecost they might be ready to receive this great and “decisive” gift, by means of which the life of Christ’s Church was to begin definitively on earth. In this sense let the Holy Spirit take our prayers beyond the ceiling of the Upper Room.
We, Christians, have received the Holy Spirit in our childhood itself, through the Holy Baptism as well as Holy Mooron. Does it mean that we have nothing else to wait for? The Holy Spirit is not given to us as a possession of which we have the charge and mastery, and which we can use at our own will. But, the Holy Spirit is given to us to be our Master, and to have charge of us. It is not we who are to use Him, but rather He that must use us. We need to ask for the Fullness of the Spirit so that He may work in us as mightily as He did in the lives of the Saints. The Lord teaches us to ask, and ensures us that He will give us this fullness of the Spirit as He says “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk. 11:13) That is why we ask the Lord everyday “not take His Holy Spirit from us, but rather to renew Him within us” and to “graciously come and abide in us”. The fullness of the Holy Spirit is not given to us in a single one-time act, but works and grows inside us daily as we live in union with Him. “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” (Jn. 15: 5). In this sense let us Abide with Christ in the Upper Room.
Usually our human interests and desires for the worldly pleasures press the Holy Spirit’s position and cause disturbance for the steady growth of the Holy Spirit in us. Leading a true sacramental life of having regular Holy Confessions whenever we might feel that we are away from God and God’s love, and having par taking of the Holy Eucharist etc is the only way to keep the Holy Spirit in our minds. So the Church Fathers insist that we must long for and wait for the Holy Spirit who converts all our sacraments as the living ones. In all the sacraments, there is special place and significance for the waiting of the Holy Spirit. In this sense let us await of the renewal of the perfect gift of Holy Spirit, in the Upper Room.
The intention of our Saviour is very clear that He wishes to remain in each and every one of us. According to the teaching of our Church Fathers, the Holy Spirit will indwell among the faithful, provided they stand together with “one mind and one prayer”. If Holy Spirit in us is not alive cent percent, our Christian lives will be of only name sake. It is the duty of each individual to see that he/she is holding cent percent of Holy Spirit in him or her. Remember that God is willing always to stay in us fully and not partially. So let us make use of the Sacraments and prayers through which we could renew the Holy Spirit in us fully so that we could also produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Then our Christian lives will be meaningful and blessed. In all the Sacraments (Baptism, Marriage, Priesthood etc) there is invocation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Holy Spirit is making those sacraments heavenly, godly and complete. In this sense let us pray for the enrichment and empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.
The Holy Church has separated and set apart the 10 days from the Ascension of our Lord (Swargarohana Perunnal) till the Pentecost. The disciples were together in the upper room praying and waiting for ten days between Ascension and Pentecost. This year, the festival of Ascension was on 9th May and the festival of Pentecost is on 19th May. So Let us have earnest and special meditations, prayers, lent and if possible fasting also to get abundant supply and enrichment of Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The Lord does not give us the fullness of His Spirit in a single moment. He makes us wait. The very act of waiting and longing for God’s Spirit to dwell in us more fully, expresses our poverty, our emptiness, our need. It is only under this condition of being “poor in spirit” that the Lord can come and dwell in us richly. It is when we empty ourselves that the Spirit can fill us. Our waiting must be as real and urgent as that of the disciples in the Upper Room, and surely the Lord will fulfill His promise. “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” (Ps 27: 14). May God bless us and our entire Church, entire mankind and the entire universe!!! Let us wait, pray fervently and fruitfully along with the disciples in the Upper Room for the Holy Spirit to come in its fullness.