COME HOLY SPIRIT FILL THE HEARTS OF THE FAITHFUL AND ENKINDLE IN THEM THE FIRE OF YOUR LOVE
(Sunday, June 09, 2019 Pentecost Sunday)
Pentecost literally means 50th. It is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover feast by the Jews, and it is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus by the Christians. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving feast. Later, the Jews included in it the remembrance of God’s Covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai. Pentecost, with Christmas and Easter, ranks among the great feasts of Christianity. On Christmas, we celebrate the birthday of Christ in His Physical Body.
Today is the birthday of the Church, of all those who have been reborn into His Mystical Body. On the day of Pentecost: 1) the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary as fiery tongues; 2) the frightened apostles were transformed into fiery preachers and evangelizers and were given the gift of tongues by a special anointing of the Holy Spirit; 3) the listeners experienced a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through the apostles’ gift of tongues: they heard Peter speaking in their native languages; 4) The early Christians became powerful witnesses and brave martyrs for their Faith in Jesus. The role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life is quite enormous
1) As an indwelling God, the Holy Spirit makes us His Living Temples (I Cor 3:16). 2). As a strengthening God, He strengthens us in our fight against temptations and in our mission of bearing witness to Christ by transparent Christian lives. 3) As a sanctifying God, He makes us holy through the Sacraments: a) He makes us children of God and heirs of heaven through Baptism. b) He makes us temples of God, warriors and defenders of the Faith, through Confirmation. c) He enables us to be reconciled to God by pardoning our sins through Reconciliation. d) He gives us spiritual nourishment through the Holy Eucharist by converting bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. 4) As a teaching and guiding God, He clarifies and constantly reminds us of Christ’s teachings.
5) As a listening and talking God, He listens to our prayers and enables us to pray, and He speaks to us mainly through the Bible. 6) As a giver of gifts, He enriches us with His gifts, fruits and charisms. We need to permit the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives by constantly remembering His holy presence and behaving well. By praying for His daily anointing so that we may fight against our temptations and control our evil tendencies, evil habits and addictions. By asking His daily assistance to pray, listening to God through meditative Bible reading and talking to Him and By asking the help of the Holy Spirit that we may do good for others and be reconciled with God and others every day.
The first reading today describes in detail the miraculous transformation that took place during the first Pentecost, thus fulfilling Jesus’ promise to the apostles. There was first “a noise like a strong driving wind.” Then there were “tongues as of fire” resting on the disciples, and each of them was filled with the Holy Spirit. The first manifestation of their reception of the Holy Spirit came when the apostles began to proclaim the Good News of Jesus, and everyone there (regardless of their many different native languages), was able to understand them “in his own tongue.”
In the second reading, St. Paul explains how the sharing of the various spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit enriches the Church. He refers to the varieties of gifts, fruits, and charisms given to the Church as coming from the same Spirit Who activates all of them in Christians for the common good. They may take different forms like prophecy, teaching, administration, acts of charity, healing and speaking in tongues, and they may reside in different persons like apostles, prophets, teachers, healers and so on. Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in his Letter to the Galatians “What the Spirit brings is … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22).
He continues, “Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit” (5:25). Paul insists that these spiritual gifts are to be used in the present time for the benefit of others, for the common good and for the building up of the Body of Christ. Finally, the gospel of today relates how the risen Jesus gave his apostles a foretaste of Pentecost on the evening of Easter Sunday by appearing to them and sending them to carry on the mission given him by his Heavenly Father. He then empowered them to do so by breathing upon them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” On the day of Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send the Advocate or Paraclete.
The gift of the Spirit would enable them to fulfil Jesus’ commission to preach the Gospel to all nations. Today’s Gospel passage also tells us how Jesus gave to the Apostles the power and authority to forgive sins. “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” These wonderful words, which bind together inseparably the presence of the Holy Spirit and the gift of forgiveness, are referred to directly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But they have a much wider meaning.
Those words remind us of the Christian vocation we all have, to love and forgive as we have been loved and forgiven by God through Christ. The feast of the Pentecost offers us the chance to look at the role which forgiveness should play in our dealings with others. Thus, we are challenged to examine our sense of compassion, patience, tolerance and magnanimity. Learning to forgive is a lifelong task, but the Holy Spirit is with us to make us agents of forgiveness. If we are prepared on this day of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit into our lives, we can have confidence that our lives will be marked by the Spirit of forgiveness.
Let Us Pray: Holy Spirit, come into my heart and help me to stay strong in serving God. May your power be made manifest in my life. Amen.