In the new era of salvation that began with the birth of the Son of God, the Holy Spirit who is the third person of the Holy Trinity has played a major role. The conception of Jesus took place by the creative power of God’s Holy Spirit.
During the infancy of Jesus many of the people who played vital roles are said to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Without doubt Mary, the maiden from Nazareth was the first beneficiary of the Holy Spirit for in the annunciation by the angel, Mary was addressed as, “Hail, a favoured one, the lord is with you!” (lk 1:28). When Mary visited Elizabeth, her cousin greeted her, the babe leapt in her womb because Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (lk 1:41). Not only Elizabeth but Zechariah at the birth of John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave a beautiful prophecy regarding the ministry of John the Baptist his son. Finally during the presentation of Jesus in the Temple Simeon who was righteous and devout, was filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself grew up wise and strong which were attributed to the Spirit. When Jesus began his ministry in the synagogue of Nazareth the Spirit of the lord was upon him (lk 4:18). But when Jesus chose the apostles, it is not said that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. We do not have instances where the evangelists tell us that the apostles were filled with the Spirit.
To receive the Holy Spirit the disciples had to wait till the resurrection of the lord Jesus. Once Jesus has been raised from the dead, we see the lord Jesus bestowing the Spirit on the apostles. We have two versions of it. The first one is according to John which is today’s Gospel. On the very Sunday of the resurrection, Jesus comes to the disciples and performs the following actions: a) He wishes them peace; b) He sends them on their mission; c) He breathes on them and confers the Holy Spirit on them (Jn 20:21-22).
Secondly, according to Luke the outpouring of the Spirit took place on the Feast of Pentecost.
The feast of Pentecost was also known by other names such as the Feast of Weeks, Feast of the First Fruits, and the Feast of the Wheat Harvest. The description by Luke about the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost and its aftermath was very dramatic. Usually for the feast of Pentecost Jewish believers from countries far and near assembled in Jerusalem especially in the Temple precinct. For the Pentecost that Luke described in chapter 2 of Acts, at least people belonging to 15 nationalities were present. Therefore, it was a large gathering of people under whose gaze the Church was born with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. It was an auspicious beginning witnessed by Jews from all parts of the Mediterranean region where they lived. It was also a fitting Divine strategy as the people who witnessed the fantastic event and had put their trust in the apostolic preaching and committed themselves to Christ would nonetheless be its ambassadors. The outpouring of the Spirit on the apostles was also spectacular. There was also the sound from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind which once again reminded us of the first creation. Therefore, the birth of the Church was yet another new creation that began with the birth of Jesus. The Spirit itself was a visible phenomenon as it appeared like the tongues of fire, distributed and resting on the apostles. There was also the phenomenon of speaking in tongues that occurred as the result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
The feast of Pentecost brings to an end the Easter season (Easter candle is now removed and brought out for Baptism) and we too are ready to begin our own journey. The Church has done her part through the celebration of the Paschal events and enabled us to journey ahead. The assurance that we are making this journey empowered by the Holy Spirit makes the journey light and fruitful.
With the feast of Pentecost we come to the end of the Easter season by which we have been confirmed in our faith now to live the mysteries that we have celebrated with the power of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.
Thus today’s feast is once again a reminder to each of us of our Christina duty to now go out to proclaim these mysteries to all whom we meet, through our lives.
We are called to use the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit to spread the message of Jesus in the best possible way with the variety of gifts that all of us possess.
With the coming of the Holy Spirit on each one of us, we complete our Baptism.
[The Holy Spirit given to all so we cannot claim that I alone have the gifts…]
[Our church has to become vibrant with so many of us receiving the H Sp. It must make us active and do something for His Church.
They can be put under three groups and we should implore and pray to God for these gifts to use them for His glory and in spreading the Kingdom of God.
The same can be said of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), which is based on LOVE.
Christian personal relationship with God
Christian personal relationship with Others
Christian personal life and character
This is what the sacrament means to us today:
‘THE DOVE MAN’.. Desert of Arabia- had an homing pigeon with a very fine cord attached to the leg. When in doubt and lost to which path to take…he threw the bird in the air…pigeon would fly in the direction of the home….
THe Holy Spirit is much more able to direct us in the narrow way that leads to the more abundant life and everlasting home….if in humble self-denial we submit to his unerring supervisions.
‘You are the temple of the Holy Spirit’. Today’s feast invites all of us to become aware of his indwelling and celebrate his company.
Birthday of the church. We need to celebrate it not with sweets and cake and party, but with our very life. We need external celebration; but these celebrations become more meaningful when it comes from within.
We are call to keep the fire burning, a fire of enthusiasm; a fire of love; a fire of faith. These are all given to us at our Baptism and are made know to us at our confirmation. At our confirmation we were all entrusted with this fire… we are now called to be responsible to keep this fire burning.
Easter candle will be put away after this great feast. Why? So that we can carry this flame in our hearts and through our lives now!!!
…the first response of many people to the glorious moment of their careers was they were accused of being “full of new wine” (Acts 2:13). How frustrating! How discouraging! It must have been to the apostles and disciples. This is a lesson we learn from the experience of the apostles on Pentecost. The world is rarely ready for the clarity of insight, and new prophetic Spirit. But today, those ordinary fishermen from Palestine began that Sunday to convert people to what has become the largest religious body in the world. A tribute to the power of the Spirit within them, that they didn’t let their critics frustrate them when they were accused to being full of new wine. It is the Holy Spirit within them that made them go forward.
Another gift of the Holy Spirit is to be able to bring people together under one roof….each able to understand in their own language. Not that the apostles spoke in different language, but the people out there could understand in their own.
As members of the church we are also responsible for carrying this work forward. One way to do so is by breaking down barriers.
Barriers are things like fear, misunderstanding, prejudice, jealously, envy, resentment, grudges. These are at the root of all the conflicts that threaten world peace. All these can be traced back to conflicts in individual hearts. One of the most frequently barriers in our daily lives is that of misunderstanding; due to lack of communication or miscommunication.
Mary was there…
She who gave birth to the Head of the church; Jesus in Bethlehem, is now helping to give birth to the rest of the body of the Church; at Pentecost.
She is there: by being there; by praying; serving them; talking to them about Jesus and listening to them (explaining to them annunciation and what it meant to ponder all these in her heart)
She was there as an experience person with regards to the person of the Holy Spirit and what the Spirit can do in one’s life when we are humble and submit our whole life to its working.
God is a friend of silence (trees, flowers, sun, moon…); we all “need silence to touch souls” (St Mother Theresa)
Today by our very renewal of our faith and receiving the body and blood of Jesus, we will once again receive the gifts of the spirit in our lives. Let this Eucharist be for us a step to renew our lives to the service of the Church, to go out and to carry on our duty as baptized confirmed Catholics; to be able to carry not just the fire with us, but to set the world ablaze with the love of the Holy Spirit.
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.