“Pentecost Sunday”, by Fr. Joel

Pentecost is the feast of the Spirit manifesting within the people the will of God. This is a Jewish feast fifty days after Passover. St. Luke recalled in the Acts of the Apostles the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (2:4). The large crowd that was gathered during the feast were confused and amazed how the disciples expressed themselves in foreign tongues and how the Spirit prompted them to proclaim more boldly the faith in the Resurrected Christ. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that the first Christian Community was born (CCC1301). Acts of the Apostles 2:38 tells us about the answer of Peter to the query of the people. He said “You must reform and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” In other words, the Holy Spirit will
reign in our lives.

How does the Spirit reign in our lives? The Spirit comes in the spirit of nature- wind, fire, even in the stillness of water that brings life during our baptism, even in a form of a dove that signified on Jesus as the Son of God. In all these concrete realities, the Spirit comes into the hearts and minds of the people through their remarkable manifestations – wisdom and rightful decisions carved, a dialogue for peace forged, a healing experienced by human persons either through reconciliation or release from physical pains, speaking in tongues, praises to God, even concrete expressions of joy through a dance, soulful songs, poetry and the like. For this is how the Spirit works if lifted in man’s realm.

The encyclical Lumen Gentium (par.7) tells us the three functions of the Holy Spirit: (1) to give life to, (2) to unify, and (3) to move the whole body. I John 4:8, 16 tell us that this Spirit is the “gift of God” who is Love, and is poured out into our hearts. 2 Cor 3:3 tells us of the Spirit of the living God written on the tablets of human hearts. Thus, mission, renewal and purification form part of the divine indwelling in us through the power of the Holy Spirit manifested to the disciples during the Pentecost. This divine moment moved them to embrace the challenge of bringing the good news of the Risen Lord to the ends of the earth. We were told how they embrace the cross of Jesus, witnessed their lives in suffering, but focused on his assurance- “I will be with you, do not be afraid!”

But what have we done to these gifts of the Holy Spirit freely given
us? Have we shared the fruits of the same to others? How can we make
these gifts as God’s manifestations of love and concern for others? How can we encourage others to walk the inspiration of the Holy Spirit towards God’s kingdom?

The Gospel this Sunday tells us of the meeting of Jesus with His disciples after His Resurrection. It was on this first meeting that Jesus breathed the Spirit on the apostles. This memory is recalled in the church during the celebration of the Chrism Mass when the bishop breathes unto the holy oils which are eventually used as very important elements during the celebration of the sacraments. But the message remains: the Spirit came from Jesus, and His intent is to give us life. If this life is coming from Jesus, then we have to live like Him. We have to pattern our life on Him. We have to continue what He has started. In the first place, we have been mission sent!

But how can the divine moment of the Pentecost transform us? Forgiveness! This is the core of the last sentence of our gospel text. An unforgiving heart brings destruction both in the personal level and on others. This comes at times in a very subtle way like a wind in its swiftness but deep inside the human heart, spiritual destruction buds forth. Thus, sin becomes the rallying point. In this instance therefore, we need to pray to the Holy Spirit to possess our heart and enkindle and rekindle in us the fire of the love of Jesus. This is what we all need. This is what our family, our communities, our country and the whole world needs. Let us help each other keep this beautiful wisdom in our hearts.

As we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, let us pray that may the same tongues of fire bring to fulfillment in us to speak of the love of Jesus and inspire us to share the same with others. And may the divine Spirit sealed unto us in Baptism and Confirmation bring to fulfillment in us His Divine Will.

as published on May 27, 2012, Parish Bulletin