Cycle A Pentecost

 Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn. 20:19-23

Today, Pentecost Sunday, we come to the climax of our Easter celebrations. It is often referred to as the birthday of the Church. Today's three readings made reference to the arrival of the Holy Spirit, being baptized in the Spirit and being sent forth to proclaim the Word of God. The arrival of the Holy Spirit was affirmed in the First Reading “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages. [Acts 2:1-11] Being baptized in the Spirit was affirmed in the Second Reading "In the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." [1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12- 13] And being sent to proclaim the Word of God was affirmed in the Gospel Reading "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." These three passages are the gist of Today’s reading. [Jn. 20:19-23]

"On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ's Passover was fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord,

poured out the Spirit in abundance." [Acts 2:33-36]

We commonly speak about a person giving up his life for the sake of others. Soldiers do that in war.Jack Phillips, a 25-year-old senior wireless operator, also proved to be one of the many heroes during the sinking of the RMS Titanic. On the evening of April 14, 1912, Phillips was working through a backlog of personal messages from the passengers and crew. However, he and Harold Bride, a junior wireless officer, did pass on several messages about iceberg warnings to Captain Edward Smith.

As the Titanic hit an iceberg at 11:40 PM, Phillips continued to work in the wireless room. When Bride came to take over from Phillips, Captain Smith entered and ordered Phillips to send out a distress signal, calling for assistance from nearby ships and providing the liner’s estimated position.

Both wireless officers worked tirelessly until 2:00 AM sending distress signals. Then Captain Smith informed them that they had done their duty and ordered them to abandon ship. While Bride took the opportunity to throw flotation devices into the water to help others, Phillips remained at his post in the wireless room sending distress signals until the final minute of the liner’s sinking.

 St. Maximilian Kolbe did it in Auschwitz, substituting himself for a man condemned to die. But Jesus gave up his life for us in a stronger sense than that. He gave his life for us; he gave his life to us, so that we might live with that life. He breathed out his Spirit, he handed it over to us, so that we might live by that same Spirit.

The  Mission of the Church is to create a unity that respects diversity. Pentecost reverses the confusion of Babel (Gen. 11: 1-9) On the day of Pentecost, as the first reading tells us, people of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds (Persians, Asians, Romans, Egyptians, Libyans, Cretans and Arabs) came together for this major Jewish feast but were unable to communicate with one another. However, through the gift of the Sprit, they were all able to understand the message of the apostles. ‘Surely, they said, all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own language?’ (Acts 2:7-8). The miracle of Pentecost was a miracle of mutual understanding, a restoration of the unity that humanity lost at Babel.

Today we need this gift of the Spirit. We need this language so that everybody can understand no matter what their ethnic or linguistic background.  It is the language of Love.  This is a language that all people understand. Love is the language of the Spirit. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin, ‘Love is the only force that can make things one without destroying them’. It the only language capable of creating a unity that respects diversity.

There was a bus driver, who had been driving his bus for many years in the same route. He knew every person who got on his bus. One day a new person got on to the bus. He was well built. He was a body builder. As he got on to the bus he looked at the  driver, he thumped his chest and said, “Big Jack don’t pay”. This bus driver was a small guy. He got angry within and thought, “How can he tell Big Jack don’t pay.” But since he was  small he  did not have the courage to question him. Every morning this fellow got into the bus and said, “Big Jack don’t pay” and travelled free.

Every time, as he crossed the paying machine the driver turned from him. He felt so afraid. He felt so small. He felt so embarrassed but he was angry. He thought, “ why he is coming in my bus free and I must not allow it.” He looses his sleep over it. He looses his sleep over  the Big Jack don’t pay. After some time he made up his mind and said, I must change the situation. So he joined a Gym. He started working out.  He started building himself up. He spent hours in the Gym, and his focus was big Jack. He decided, “I am going to teach him a lesson.” He must pay when he comes  in the bus. He also mastered martial Arts. He felt  confident to  resist  Big Jack. He decided to teach  him a lesson. He forgot everything in life. His  concentration was only teaching a lesson to Big Jack.

One day he decided to the challenge Big Jack. He started the  bus; people started getting down and getting down. But he did notice anything. His  focus was on Big Jack. He stopped the bus  at the stop of Big Jack. People got on to the bus paid and went to their seats. Finally Big Jack got on to the bus, and said to the driver as usual, Big Jack don’t pay.  Then the driver stood up. Puffed up his chest  and said, “Big Jack must pay.” Why, not pay?”

Big Jack looked at him and said, “Big Jack has bus pass.” Big Jack don’t pay. The driver  turned back again started driving.

Do not make problems where there is none. Often in our lives it is like this. We think something is a problems but it is not. Do not make issues where there are none. Remember this. Something that we resist will become a problem. What we can accept and live with is never a problem. This is the message of Pentecost. 

There is  a lovely poem  by Macolm Guite. It captures the meaning of Pentecost.

 Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace

Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.

Let our language be of  love. And all will understand us.