Acts 2: 1-11;: 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7;Gospel: John 20: 19-23
Come Holy Spirit and fill the heart of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Today is Pentecost Sunday. The sending of His Spirit was the final element of Christ's salvific work on earth. Between Christ's Ascension and the day that He will come again in glory, the Holy Spirit guides the Church and each of us as Christians.
For the past seven weeks we have kept the Easter Candle here in the sanctuary, lighting it every time we have celebrated
The living flame of the Easter Candle reminded us that Christ is alive, that he rose from the dead just as the sun rises each morning to put an
end to the darkness of the night. The tall, white candle with a burning flame
on top reminded us of God's faithfulness throughout all of history. It symbolized the two miraculous pillars - smoke by day and fire by night - that had
guided the ancient Israelites out of Mass. , through the desert to the
Promised Land. Now it is Christ, the Risen Lord, who is our pillar of smoke and pillar of fire, our sure guide out of slavery to sin, through this world of
trials and temptations into the Promised Land of Heaven. But
today we remove the Easter Candle from our sanctuary.
Until next Easter, Egypt
we will only use it during baptism ceremonies, when Christ's risen life is given for the first time to new members of the Church. Does the removal of the Easter Candle mean that Christ is no longer among us? No. The sanctuary lamp beside the Tabernacle (in the Bl.Sacrament Chapel) reminds us that Christ hasn't' gone on vacation. Rather it is the day when Christ's risen life was entrusted to the Church by the gift of the Holy Spirit, who descended like tongues of fire on the Apostles after Christ has ascended into heaven. That new season in the life of the Church is paralleled by our new liturgical season, Ordinary Time, when we take the Easter Candle out of the sanctuary, because we ourselves become living Easter Candles, burning flames of wisdom, pillars of Christian faith and love, spreading Christ’s hope in the world.
Why did the apostles receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost but not on the day Jesus rose from the dead? Possibly at the first Easter the apostles were not honest with themselves about their sins and fears. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (Jn 16:13). We must be consecrated by truth to receive the Spirit (Jn 17:17). If we are honest with ourselves we will be subservient to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, being God, will not take orders from us. Rather, He will command us to do His will. We, naturally don't want anyone, even God, to tell us what to do. We must honestly face this resistance to the Spirit, repent of our selfishness, and make a decision to do God's will instead of ours. Then we will be filled with the Spirit.
Jesus was aware that sins create rupture in man and destroys the peace in him. So when he wished them "peace" he also granted them the power to destroy sin. To destroy a powerful enemy we need a powerful weapon. Jesus put this weapon in the hands of the church when communicating to his Apostles the power to forgive sins through the sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus said to the apostles: "Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven: Those whose sins you retain, they are retained."
He also gave them power to become new people through the Spirit, by breathing on them. As God breathed into Adam the breath of life, so Jesus now breathed the Spirit into these disciples, making them a new people. In the power of the Spirit they left their narrow dungeon and preached the news of Jesus to the whole world. The religious culture of their time led them to fear and despise foreigners, seeing them as a source of contamination. But the Spirit they received was not a spirit of timidity and flight.
Inside every believer dwells an intimate, all-sufficient Helper with one goal: to ensure we grow in Christ-likeness.
Corinthian community of this fact when he asks, "Do you not know that you
are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?" (I Corinthians
3:16). It is the Holy Spirit who develops our intimacy with God. "God has sent the Spirit of His Son into
our hearts crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:6). "God’s love has been poured
into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5).
"No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit" (I
Corinthians 12:3). Moreover, we know that it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us
to pray (Romans 8:26). Holy Spirit, God's transforming presence
in our lives, helps us to obey his will out of love. Saint Paul
The Holy Spirit reminds us, that we have a mission. Our mission is to tell everybody the Good News that God is their Father, that God is the Father of us all, that in spite of all the visible difference of language and culture and social status, we are all one family and should therefore live as brothers and sisters. Our mission is to break the barriers between "us" and "them," between male and female, between Jew and Gentile, between rich and poor, between Black and White, between First World and
Third World, and to bring all humankind to speak the one
universal language of brotherly/sisterly love. This is possible only through
the working of the Holy Spirit.
At the trial scene Peter disowned Jesus and swore that he did not know him. But after receiving the spirit the same Peter proclaimed aloud the message of Jesus and called the people to repentance. The Spirit blesses us too with courage. When we accept it we too will be able to make our contribution to better the world. Don’t ever think that what we are able to do is mighty little; what ever we are able to do that will have great impact on the world.
A black squirrel once asked a wise old owl what was the weight of a single snowflake. "Why, nothing more than nothing," the owl answered. The squirrel then went on to tell the owl about a time when he was resting on a branch of a maple tree, counting each snowflake that came to rest on the branch until he reached the number 1,973,864. Then with the settling of the very next flake -- crack! The branch suddenly snapped, throwing the squirrel and the snow to the ground. "That was surely a whole lot of nothing," said the squirrel.
Our daily personal efforts to spread the reign of love and justice may be as lightweight as snowflakes. But by heaping our snowflakes together we shall eventually be able to break the heavy branch of sin, evil and injustice growing in our world today.
St.Paul says: To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit." It may be the homeless, or the injustice of abortion, or the lack of solid religious education. Maybe God has given us a special sensitivity in that area because he is calling us to shine his light there. If each of us made the commitment to brighten up just one dark corner of the world with Christ's light this year, think how much brighter the world would be twelve months from now! Today, let's pray for a new Pentecost in our lives, our parish, and our world, and let's promise to do our part to make that come true.
May the Spirit of the Lord rest on us with wisdom and understanding, with counsel and might, with knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Amen.