Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 12:3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23
Transforming people one at a time is at the heart of God’s plan for the world. Pentecost is the crowning of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, who today fulfills his promise of sending the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the whole Church.
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). What exactly happened on Pentecost Day and why?
In the first reading we hear that after that extraordinary experience of receiving the Holy Spirit, 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. The power of the Holy Spirit is the greatest untapped power in every diocese, parish and indeed in every one of us. In the readings of today we see the extraordinary signs the Holy Spirit manifests through the apostles: courage to come out; communication in a language deeper than words; inner peace; transformation; forgiveness of sins; reconciliation and unity between estranged people; and every worthwhile gift.
But how does the Holy Spirit work in our lives? Let me illustrate with an amazing story of one person who opened his heart to be used by the Holy spirit and consequently transformed the world and made tangible contribution to the Church.
It is the story of an Englishman whose name is Stephen Langton. He lived in England during the days of Robin Hood. Like Robin Hood, he wanted to help the poor, but in a different way as a priest. After his ordination, the Pope recognized his talents and appointed him the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, king John of England did not like him. When Stephen Langton saw all the injustices caused by the king’s laws, he mobilized all the ruling elite and had a meeting with them to transform the situation of England. Stephen Langton guided them to prepare what we know today as the Magna Carta.
But that was not all. Soon the king exiled Stephen Langton to Paris. Instead of being obsessed with his exile, he started teaching at the University of Paris and while there, the Holy Spirit led him to be aware of the need for working to divide the Bible into chapters and verves as we have it today.
But that was not all. Stephen Langton used his time and talent to write the lyric of the hymn Veni Sancte Spiritus – Come Holy Spirit that we have just sung before the Gospel. God indeed has an incredible plan for each of us when we open ourselves to be Spirit led.
There are three takes away points:
1) Pentecost reminds us that the power of the Holy Spirit transforms us into powerful witnesses just as the apostles.
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. “Come Holy Spirit.”
©2019 John S. Mbinda