The Feast of Pentecost which happened yesterday, marks the end of the Paschal cycle and the half of the liturgical calendar dedicated to the Christ and the beginning of the year of the Church in Western Church calendar. Amongst some contemporary Gnostics, however, Pentecost also marks the beginning of the half of the year dedicated to the Sophia – Holy Wisdom. In archetypal language, one could view the two halves of the year as being indicative of the masculine and feminine or supernal and immanent aspects of Godhead.
In classical Gnosticism, the Sophia was held to be the syzygy of Jesus Christ (i.e. the Bride of Christ), and Holy Spirit of the Trinity and in the Nag Hammadi texts she is considered to be lowest Aeon, or anthropic expression of the emanation of the light of God. Following the Feast of the Ascension, that takes place roughly a week prior to Pentecost commemorating the Light of the Christ being withdrawn back up into the Pleroma (Fullness), it at Pentecost that we are reminded of God’s continuing eminence in the world through the activity of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus before his ascension:
“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father.And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do. If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not, neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:11-17)
After the ascension and at Pentecost, as promised, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles in a magnificent display:
“And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)
In the Greek text, the name used to indicate the Holy Spirit is Paraclete, literally “advocate” as one would have during a legal trial, hardly a comforting image as one would imagine and definitely a presage of things to come in the early centuries of the Christian movement. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends blazing fire and inspiring (inspiriting?!) the apostles to continue the works which Christ had commanded as part of the Great Commission.
How this relates to the Sophia is that we are assured through attention to Holy Wisdom we are able to overcome the difficulties of our transitory life and can be rest assured that God continually abides in us as we continue to follow the precepts not only given by Christ through scripture, but through continual abiding in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Far from being a onetime affair limited to an historical point in time, Pentecost is a continual event marking the continuity of Gods covenant with all humanity and us with one another so long as we remember that most holy commandment: “love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:14).