May 31: Pentecost Sunday Year B
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 12:3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23
Fifty days after Easter, we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, when Christ filled his Church with the Holy Spirit. The feast of Pentecost completes the mysteries we have been celebrating since Holy Week: the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus that culminates in the sending of the Spirit of the Father and the Son on his disciples. As we listen to the first reading, we relive the event of the first Pentecost. We are told that a noise like a strong driving wind came from the sky. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire resting on each of them. 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 the Risen Lord Jesus offering the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and sending them. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you…Receive the Holy Spirit", the Spirit of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.
Pentecost is therefore the crowning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, who now fulfills 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). There are those who give witness today by their lives that Jesus is the Messiah and the way he taught us is the only way to live. Yet others do not witness to Jesus but engage in “the works of the flesh,” contrary to the “work of the Spirit.” In the first reading we hear that everyone in Jerusalem heard the apostles and disciples speaking in their own language. In our day there is one language that can unite all peoples, that is if we as Christians are united in love as authentic followers of Jesus. The language of love and living as authentic and genuine followers of Jesus is what attracts people to the Church and helps them to follow Jesus. The fulfilment of Jesus’ promise, the coming of the Holy Spirit, inaugurates the Church, and gives the apostles power from on high (Lk. 24:49). This power would 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 speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” the mighty acts of God. Amazement and astonishment filled the listening crowds as each heard the apostles in his/her own language. What message do we take home? 1) Pentecost reminds us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit transform us into powerful witnesses. The gifts give us courage to proclaim openly what God has done in Christ; 2) The gifts of the Spirit poured out into the Church on Pentecost Sunday bring with them unity in the one Spirit as well as a rich diversity; 3) On Pentecost day, Christ sends the Church anew into the world to bring the gift of the Father’s compassion, peace, joy, reconciliation and forgiveness for all.
©2009 John M. Mbinda