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Friday, 6 May 2016

Reflection/Homily: Pentecost Sunday

Theme: “The Gift of the Holy Spirit”

The Word “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek word “pentekoste (hemera)” meaning “fiftieth (day). Pentecost Sunday is a Christian feast with a Jewish origin in the Old Testament known as the “festival of weeks” (Shavuot) (cf. Ex. 34:22). Since Shavuot is celebrated 50 days after the “pesach” (Passover or Christian Easter) in thanksgiving to Yahweh for the reception of the Torah, Hellenistic Jews gave it a Greek name pentekoste and that was the major reason why the Jews gathered in the first reading. (Acts 2:1-11). In Christianity, we celebrate Pentecost as the fiftieth day after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. It is also the tenth day after the Ascension.

Christians could find some relationship between the Jewish and the Christian Pentecost. Moses had to go up to Mount Sinai to receive the Law, as the apostles had to go up to the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit. While the Law guided the Jews, the Holy Spirit guides the Christians for they are no longer governed by the Law but by the Spirit.

The descent of the Holy Spirit as we saw in the first reading did not just occur in history. It was prophesied both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Joel 3:1, God promised to pour out his Spirit on all humanity in the latter days and in John 14:26 we see the promise of the Holy Spirit who will teach us everything and remind us of all Christ said. This Holy Spirit is the third person of the Blessed Trinity. He is also known as the Paraclete (Comforter) and the promise of the Father. He performs the function of sanctification and empowerment. At the Pentecost, He sanctified the Apostles and empowered them to lead the Church. 

The significance of this celebration is to appreciate the impact of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Without the Holy Spirit, the mission of the Blessed Trinity would have remained incomplete because it is the mission of the Blessed Trinity to redeem mankind. The Father began it in creation, the Son continued it in redemption and the Holy Spirit sanctified. The Holy Spirit united the Apostles and the early Christians, empowered them in their missionary activities and they were successful. Even now, the Holy Spirit still illumines us to understand the message of the Scriptures by leading us to the complete truth. As the second reading (Romans 8:8-17) reminds us, the Holy Spirit enables us to call God our Father and by virtue of this, we can proudly claim God’s blessings as co-heirs with Jesus.

In the gospel reading (John 14:15-16,23-26), Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those who love him and keep his commandments. He describes in clear terms the functions of the Holy Spirit in the lives of such people: teaching and remembering. The Holy Spirit teaches us the way of perfection and reminds us of all that we already know. This implies that to participate in this “Pentecostal privilege” we need to be at right with God. 

Therefore my beloved brethren, today the Church invites us to share the joy of the apostles who were endowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Though we may clamour for one gift of the Holy Spirit or the other, we have to recognize that the greatest gift of God is the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit now more than ever. We need Him in our Church to preserve the faith and unity of the Church. We need Him in our families to strengthen our bonds and maintain peace. We need Him in our lives to make us co-operate with the Father and the Son. Are you ready to give the Holy Spirit a chance in your life? Are you ready to live a life devoid of sin in communion with God in prayer? Are you ready to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in renewing the face of the earth? It is only when we are ready to do this that we can join the psalmist to say “Lord send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth”. God loves you.                                                            

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