Sunday Reflection for the Pentecost Day
Readings: Act 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13 and Jn 20:19-23
It is Pentecost Sunday today. Pentecost means the fiftieth day- after the Passover. It is the second of the three great Jewish feasts celebrated at Jerusalem yearly. It is celebrated in grateful recognition of completed harvest. In other words, it is the harvest feast.
For the Christians Pentecost is the advent of the Holy Spirit. It is with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Church was born. It is the birthday of the Church. On the Passover Triduum, we remembered three important Christ-Events, viz., the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. After the death of Jesus on the cross, Jesus appeared to his disciples for forty days to convince them of his resurrection. This is what we commemorated during the Eastertide. Then Jesus ascended into Heaven. Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of ascension. This Sunday is Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples.
Luke, in Acts 2:1-11, describes the great event of Pentecost, which we heard in the first reading. On the occasion of Jewish feast of Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus had gathered in one place. And suddenly, we are told, how there came from heaven a sound like the rush of a violent wind, filled the entire house, and a divided tongues of fire appeared to them, a tongue of fire rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages. All the spectators were amazed and perplexed while others sneered at them, “They are filled with new wine.”
The Johannine Gospel, Jn 20:19-23, which we heard in today’s gospel reading, gives us a different episode of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were gathered and locked up in a room for fear of Jews. Jesus came and stood among them and said twice, “Peace be with you.” And then He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Then he gives them the power of forgiveness. In the second reading from 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13 we are told of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the different spiritual gifts that we receive in the Holy Spirit. St. Paul mentions clearly that there are varieties of gifts from one source, viz. the Holy Spirit. Gift of wisdom, gift of knowledge, gift of faith, gift of healing, gift of working miracles, gifts of prophecy, gift of discernment of spirits, gift of speaking in different tongues and of interpreting them. However, the greatest of all of these gifts is the gift of love. Paul emphasizes that in 1 Cor 13:1-13. Also, among the seven fold fruits of the Holy Spirit, viz., Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity and self-control, love is the first in the list.
So, with the coming of the Holy Spirit, Christian faith assures that, God is Emmanuel; that Jesus is with us as he said, “I will be with you till the ends of time.” Pentecost assures that the Reign of God that Jesus Christ ushered during in his life time continues to grow and expand with the power of the Holy Spirit. And that Kingdom of God is the kingdom of Love, Joy and Peace. We all are given with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have been given Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit dwells within us. Remember, what St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).” What is the sure sign that the Holy Spirit dwells in us? When we bear in our lives the fruits of the Holy Spirit, viz. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity and Self-control, we exhibit that Holy Spirit dwells in us.
Have you ever experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in and around you? We are aware how the Holy Spirit has been given different titles. Holy Spirit is the Advocate, the comforter, the Healer, the consoler, the sanctifier and the counselor, etc. When the Holy Spirit descended into the disciples, Luke mentions, He came in the form of tongues of fires. Holy Spirit was present in the violent wind that filled the house where the disciples were gathered. While John tells us how Jesus breathed into them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Well, today, the presence of the Holy Spirit could be felt in different ways.
The other day when I was preparing this reflection, I feel, I was guided and counseled by the Holy Spirit. Actually a question arose in my mind. Why is that there is no reading from the First Testament in today’s liturgy? Is there no Holy Spirit in the First Testament? Out of curiosity, I just typed the keyword, “Pentecost” in BibleWorks Application and I got total five reference of the word, two from the First Testament (Tob 2:1 and 2 Macc 12:32) and the three from Second Testament. I was surprised to see how there are references of the Pentecost in the First Testament. Then I felt inspired to read the whole book of Tobit, which I did for the first time in one stretch. This is when I realized that the presence of the Holy Spirit, though not so vividly and clearly, is present there even in the First Testament. I realized it was the Holy Spirit in the form of Angel Raphael, who introduced himself as Azariah. In the book one can find the dominant presence of the Holy Spirit. It was He who journeyed with Tobias to Media, guided him, instructed him, told him the medicinal usage of the gall, heart and liver of the fish in the Tigris River. Be it routing out the demon from Sarah, marriage of Tobias with Sarah or be it healing of Tobit from his blindness, we see the powerful healing and counseling act of the Holy Spirit in the Angel of Raphael. I think this is an example of how the Blessed Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) are ever active in the salvific mission. Yes, the work of the Holy Spirit is active even today in and among us through different ways. Only thing that we need to do is to cooperate with Him by being in the grace.
Our Human mind is very so beautiful and powerful. John Milton in Paradise Lost says, “Mind is its own place. It can create heaven in hell and hell in heaven.” Yet, how is it that our mind cannot feel, cannot recognize the works of the Holy Spirit and fruits of the Holy Spirit? How is that our mind does not become the temple of the Holy Spirit? Is not true that our human mind in our sin-laden and broken world is being eclipsed? Today, we need to question ourselves on what sort of things our mind is busy with. I wish and pray on this Pentecost for an Epiclesis over our human mind. Let Holy Spirit come down and sanctify our human mind to hell of our world into heaven here and now. Come Holy Spirit Sanctify our minds!