Feast of Pentecost (Year A). MAY 28, 2023. Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor.12: 3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23.
“As the Father sent me, so I send you: Receive the Holy Spirit…”
Today is Pentecost Sunday and is often described as the birthday of the Church, and for that matter, Christendom. When the Spirit came upon the Apostles and the disciples, the Church was born. Just as Jesus was anointed with the Spirit at the beginning of his ministry, so the disciples needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to carry out the mission entrusted to them by Jesus. The Holy Spirit is given to all who are baptized into Jesus Christ to enable us to live a new way of life - a life of love, peace, joy, and righteousness (Rom. 14:17). The Spirit is the source and giver of all holiness. Isaiah foretold the seven-fold gifts that the Spirit would give: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
Life Message: These gifts of Pentecost - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the spiritual gifts and blessings of God - are made possible through the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus. After his resurrection Jesus "breathed" on his disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit. Just as God breathed life into Adam, so the gift of the Holy Spirit is an impartation of "new life" for his people. Hence, with the gift of the Holy Spirit a new creation begins- i.e. Jesus’ gift of peace which includes the forgiveness of sins and the fullness of everything good. In the Christian community the Holy Spirit came to transform the disciples from fearful and weak persons into bold and fearless proclaimers of Jesus Christ. From that day, the disciples were equipped by the Holy Spirit to gather people from everywhere to God starting from Jerusalem to the end of the earth. Let’s note that, this indwelling of the Spirit, i.e., God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, does not take over us and our freewill but advocates for us in all situations. It allows us to freely accept or reject his advances.
Conclusion: The Spirit came to tend carefully the infant church like a strong wind, or fire that could not be stopped even as the church struggled to find itself in a chaotic world. This Spirit was there to encourage when the going became difficult. It comforted and strengthened when weakness set in, and throwing-in-the-towel looked tempting. For some of us, fear compels us to barricade ourselves behind doors of uncertainties in life. They make us crouch in our own cocoon stages in life. Yet, even though we might have a good reason to fear the Lord, having abandoned him at the darkest hour, Jesus offers us peace and tells us that his wounds are offered, not as a reproach, but evidence that he is with us to strengthen us. Indeed today, we hear the Holy Spirit speak a universal language of love as we hear him in our “native language” and social status. The Spirit reminds us of the various charisms gifted to us as a Church and community for our benefit. With fire lit in our belly, the spirit helps us not to grow weary or disillusioned, but to shed light in the darkness where love can grow. Consequently, today as we celebrate the birthday of our Church, may the Holy Spirit, our guiding force, empower us to reconcile and forgive one another with the peace we have received from Jesus Christ. Amen!