Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn. 20:19-23.
Welcome my brothers and sisters on the Feast of Pentecost. With today’s feast, we conclude the period of Easter Time.
Originally, Pentecost was a Jewish Feast. The word “Pentecost” means “fiftieth”. For the Jews the 50th day after their Passover, and for Christians the 50th day after Easter.There were three main events in the history of Israel which the Jews remembered on the feast of Pentecost. The establishment of the covenant between God and Israel on Mount Sinai; The proclamation of Ten Commandments; and the completion of the grain harvest. On the Pentecost day we too celebrate the establishment of a new covenant; the proclamation of the new law - the command of love; and the pouring down of the fruits of The Holy Spirit.
During today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the glorious arrival of the Holy Spirit. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit” On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit the apostles began to proclaim "the mighty works of God,' and Peter declared this outpouring of the Spirit to be the sign of the messianic age.
They were blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. (Gal 5:22-23)
The Jews who listened to the Apostles were aware of the gifts of the Holy Spirit found in the Book Isaiah (11:1-2). Now they saw them manifested in the Apostles.
They saw great wisdom in the Apostles. No one in the group dared to question their wisdom. It illuminated their understanding of Sacred Scriptures. It gave them a profound appreciation for God’s providence. They recalled the teaching of Jesus and boldly proclaimed it. That boldness showed by the apostles was not familiar to the crowd. When Jesus was arrested they ran away. Peter denied Jesus three times during his trial. When Jesus was crucified they went into hiding. When the risen Lord appeared to them, some of them refused to believe it. But now with extraordinary fortitude they stood boldly before the Roman authorities, before the Jewish leaders, and before the crowd, proclaim Jesus as the Lord.
Naturally, the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit drew many to the house where the disciples were gathered. And as we heard, those who came, they witnessed the disciples speaking in all languages to the extent that no matter what language anyone spoke, they could understand the disciples preaching about God's deeds of power. Everyone saw something in them beyond description.
A woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was hungry, and the woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me something more precious.
This is the gift that the Apostles received on the day of Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit enabled them to give up everything, their family, their possessions, their self and keep them focused only on Jesus. Their outlook changed. While with Jesus they thought what they would get from Jesus. Who would be the first in the Kingdom of Heaven. Who would be privileged sit on the right and left of Jesus? Once they received the Spirit there was a total change in their attitude. Their concentration changed to what they could give to others.
Throughout the centuries the Spirit of God enabled men and women to bear witness to Jesus. Thousands of men and women embraced martyrdom for the name of Jesus. Hundreds of monks and nuns dedicated their lives for Jesus and lived in silence and Prayer. Thousands of saints were guided by the Spirit and dedicated themselves to the church and the society. Millions of believers were led by the Spirit to be the light of the world through their good deeds.
Today it is our turn to receive the Spirit, and accept the gifts the Spirit pours on us. The Spirit will guide us to find what sacrifice I can make to keep my family happy; what contribution I can give to enrich the community; and what support I can give to my neighbours in their struggles.
When we allow ourselves to be led by the gifts of the Spirit, the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit that drew many to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost will draw again many more to the Apostolic Church.