CCC 659 “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.”1 Christ’s body was glorified at the moment of his Resurrection, as proved by the new and supernatural properties it subsequently and permanently enjoys.2 But during the forty days when he eats and drinks familiarly with his disciples and teaches them about the kingdom, his glory remains veiled under the appearance of ordinary humanity.3 Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.4 Only in a wholly exceptional and unique way would Jesus show himself to Paul “as to one untimely born”, in a last apparition that established him as an apostle.5
CCC 696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel.6 This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”7 Jesus will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!”8 In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself9 The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions.10 “Do not quench the Spirit.”11
CCC 1287 This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people.12 On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit,13 a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.14 Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim “the mighty works of God,” and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.15 Those who believed in the apostolic preaching and were baptized received the gift of the Holy Spirit in their turn.16
CCC 2623 On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered “together in one place.”17 While awaiting the Spirit, “all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer.”18 The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said19 was also to form her in the life of prayer.
1 Mk 16:19.
2 Cf Lk 24:31; Jn 20:19, 26.
3 Cf. Acts 1:3; 10:41; Mk 16:12; Lk 24:15; Jn 20:14-15; 21:4.
4 Cf. Acts 1:9; 2:33; 7:56; Lk 9:34-35; 24:51; Ex 13:22; Mk 16:19; Ps 110:1.
5 1 Cor 15:8; cf. 9:1; Gal 1:16.
6 Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39.
7 Lk 1:17; 3:16.
8 Lk 12:49.
9 Acts 2:3-4.
10 Cf. St. John of the Cross, The Living Flame of Love, in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577 ff.
11 1 Thess 5:1.
12 Cf. Ezek 36:25-27; Joel 3:1-2.
13 Cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 3:5-8; 7:37-39; 16:7-15; Acts 1:8.
14 Cf. Jn 20:22; Acts 2:1-14.
15 Acts 2:11; Cf. 2:17-18.
16 Cf. Acts 2:38.
17 Acts 2:1.
18 Acts 1:14.
19 Cf. Jn 14:26.