Friday, May 9, 2008

May 11: Pentecost Sunday Year A

May 11: Pentecost Sunday Year A
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 12:3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23

This year, Mothers Day fall on Pentecost Sunday and therefore I take the opportunity to wish all our moms a happy Mothers Day. We will have a special blessing for all moms before the end of Mass. There is a certain sense in which mothers give joy, peace, and courage to their children, and that is the link between Mothers Day and Pentecost. Fifty days after Easter, we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, when Christ filled the Church with the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost day, Christ sent the Church into the world to bring the gift of peace, joy and forgiveness for all. As we listen to the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we relive the event of the first Pentecost. St. Paul in the second reading reminds us that the gifts of the Spirit poured out into the Church bring with them unity in the one Spirit as well as a rich diversity. The Gospel from John gives a brief account of Jesus offering the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and sending them. The disciples are behind closed doors frightened and hiding. As followers of Jesus they fear that they may have to be arrested and killed. Suddenly, Jesus enters the room where they were gathered. He gives them the usual Jewish greeting ‘Shalom’ meaning, ‘Peace is with you’. That presence of Jesus changed the atmosphere of fear to that of peace which only Jesus can give. They were now filled with joy. Then Jesus gave them their mission: "As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you…Receive the Holy Spirit", the Spirit of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.

Pentecost is closely connected with Easter - the resurrection and the appearances of the risen Lord, and his final entry into the fullness of the Father's glory in the ascension. It is as it were, the crowning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, who now fulfils his promise of sending the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Let us for a moment recall the words of the promise. "When the advocate comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father, he will be my witness. And you too will be witnesses, because you have been with me from the outset" (Jn. 15:26). The fulfilment of that promise, the coming of the Holy Spirit, inaugurates the Church, and gives the apostles power from on high (Lk. 24:49). This power will enable the apostles to bear witness starting from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Liturgically, Pentecost is one of the most moving celebra¬tions of the year. The small gathering of disciples, who had locked themselves in a room, "for fear of the Jews" (Jn. 20:19), are suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit, and led by Peter, begin to give witness, "preaching in their own lan¬guage about the marvels of God" (Acts 2:11). It was not a time of fear any more, but a time of proclaiming openly, what God has done in Christ. The message may be summed up in three points: 1) The gift of the Holy Spirit fills us too with courage to go out and witness just as the disciples did on the first Pentecost; 2) Just as the disciples went out to bring the message of God’s peace and reconciliation to the world, we too are challenged to do the same. It is the Spirit of Jesus who will be with us till end of times; 3) The gift of the Spirit received on Pentecost frees us from fear, and therefore rather than being afraid of what might happen to us, we must proclaim our faith boldly.

©2008 John M. Mbinda

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