A Reflection by Fr. Kingsley for Pentecost (Year B).
Acts 2:1-11 – 1Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13 – John 20:19-23.
Dear brothers and sisters, for seven weeks we have been celebrating the joyful period of Eastertide. It started with the Resurrection of Jesus, and we heard about His appearances to His disciples and His Ascension into heaven. It is concluding with the Solemnity of Pentecost.
Pentecost recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, an event which was preceded by their hearing of a noise which was like the wind, and then seeing tongues of fire resting on each of them. The First Reading describes the spectacularly baffling effect produced in the disciples by the coming of the Holy Spirit. From the moment that the Holy Spirit descended on them, He brought out the best in them and changed their lives. They were no longer afraid of the Jews. It was fear that had caused them to lock themselves indoors after the Ascension. They emerged from the Upper Room and began their mission of preaching the Good News, boldly proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ. With the Holy Spirit within them, everything suddenly fell into place in their minds and made sense to them. They became certain of what the Lord wanted of them, and they were courageous in setting about doing it. At that very moment, the Church was born. The Spirit of God Himself had filled the disciples with new hope and with courage. They received the power and strength they needed to set off into the world and enthusiastically to spread the news of the salvific work which Christ had accomplished on behalf of humanity.
The Holy Spirit is the spirit of holiness, courage and fortitude. In the 2nd Reading, St Paul stated that no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence if the Holy Spirit (v.3). The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, is the spirit of evangelization, who inspires all God’s people to proclaim Him in our world today. In the Gospel, He is the spirit of peace given us by Christ to be spread to everyone. He is here with us as the power of God to forgive sins and to be reconciled with Him, for it is when our sins are forgiven that we can have lasting peace of soul. Blessed are those whose sin is remitted and those in whom the Lord imputes no guilt (Ps 32:1). The Holy Spirit proceeds to us through God the Father and God the Son (as we assert in the Creed) for the forgiveness of our sins.
The coming of the Holy Spirit on that first day of Pentecost was not a one-off event, but the beginning of His permanent presence in the Church, as Jesus promised. The Holy Spirit is so close as to be indwelling wherever there are hearts open to receive Him. The Holy Spirit is poured out again and again into the hearts of the faithful, inspiring us to undertake our mission as Christ’s ambassadors. That is why we invoke the Holy Spirit to come into our lives each and every day and make us anew (Eph 4:22f).
The experience of Pentecost happening in our own lives reminds us that God the Father and God the Son call us to a deeper relationship by sharing in God the Holy Spirit. It is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us that He remains with us till the end of chronological time and into eternity. In that sense, having the Holy Spirit within us now means that we are living in eternal life. Since God is love, the Pentecost experience is another invitation to us to have the fire of love rekindled in each one of us personally, and to have the grace of our baptismal calling stirred up. We are not always aware when the Holy Spirit is moving within us, yet we are frequently surprised by His sheer power that drives us into action. Those moments when we find ourselves doing, both for God and for other people, what we never imagined possible – those times when we go beyond our selfish indifference and reach out in genuine concern to people in trouble, and so on – those moments are signs of the Holy Spirit at work in us, guiding us to do the Will of God.
As we face trials and carry crosses, and as we encounter the difficulties and disappointments which can leave daily life in tatters, we require the help of the Holy Spirit whose presence makes such a positive difference to our mindset. Christ has promised that the power of the Holy Spirit will come to us, provided that we invite Him to come into our lives. It’s essential, then, that in prayer we leave the door of the heart open to ask Him in. He changes us, He moulds us, and according to the extent that we allow the Holy Spirit to disturb our complacency, uproot our passivity and make way for fresh growth, we become different persons. What the Holy Spirit will bring into our lives if we permit Him to lead us are joy, peace and love.
Let us pray: Lord God, we thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who works in us in countless ways to deepen our faith, our hope and our love. May we bear much fruit by the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we ask you to send your Holy Spirit afresh upon us. Come Holy Spirit! Marana tha! Come, Lord!