Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 12:3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” This Sunday, we affirm and celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This is what we call Pentecost. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek (πεντηκοστή), which means the fiftieth day. Fifty days after the resurrection, Christ fulfills his promise by sending the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. Pentecost is one of the most prominent and colorful celebrations in the liturgical year. In 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. The Holy Spirit works in our lives like fire: illuminating our minds to understand the truth; warming the coldness of our hearts and revitalizing our energy. The Holy Spirit is the breath of Christ on the apostles so that His Spirit may work in them to continue His work through the Church. Thus the Holy Spirit is the energy poured out by Christ upon the apostles so that with renewed vigor they become powerful witness of the message of Christ. In the Second Reading, Paul deals with the issue of some members of the Corinthian community who considered themselves more important than others on account of their personal talents. Paul reminds them that God's Spirit is the source of unity as well as of a wonderful diversity of gifts for the growth of the community. Therefore there is no place for inflated egos in the community of the baptized. 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 living in the way that Jesus taught as the only way to live. Yet others give counter witness to Jesus by engaging 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. Biblical scholars interpret the apostles’ gift of speaking in languages understood by all present in terms of a prophetic sign of the worldwide mission and proclamation of God’s kingdom in all known languages of the world today. That is how powerful the Holy Spirit can be if we allow him into our lives. The power of the Holy Spirit is the greatest untapped power in the world. In the readings of today we see some of the things the Holy Spirit makes possible: communication in a language deeper than words; inner peace; transformation; forgiveness of sins; reconciliation and unity between estranged people; and every worthwhile gift. When the Holy Spirit is in us, no other spirit can touch us or manipulate us. The Holy Spirit is therefore, as Pope Francis put it recently, “our travelling companion.” So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Pentecost reminds us that the Holy Spirit can lead to conversion and transformation into powerful witnesses. 2) God's Spirit is the source of unity as well as a wonderful diversity of gifts for the growth of the whole Church; 3) On Pentecost day, Christ sends us through the Church into the world: our homes, families, neighborhoods and places of work, to bring God’s gift of compassion, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness for all.
©2016 John S. Mbinda