June 9, 2019 – Pentecost Sunday
ACTS 2:1-11When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven
staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
but they were confused
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
of the mighty acts of God.”
Responsorial Psalm PS 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of your creatures;
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.1 COR 12:3B-7, 12-13Brothers and sisters:
No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Gospel JN 20:19-23On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
What keep people from truly expressing themselves? Or what prevent us from sharing ourselves to others?
Fear of being not accepted, of being rejected and thus, of being hurt prevent us from sharing and opening up ourselves for others. However, God desires that we become fully human according to His image.
Today, as we celebrate the Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit into the Church, we are being reminded today of this desire of God for us to have peace, as individuals and as a Church.
When we have a very little knowledge of ourselves, we will also tend to either underestimate or overestimate ourselves. We could show a self that is disturbed with low self-esteem or arrogance. It is only when we also become more aware of ourselves, of both weaknesses and strengths, of failures and potentials that we become more conscious too of God’s presence in us.
This is what we find in today’s readings which tells about the fearful friends of Jesus. The Apostles were in hiding. This was symbolized on how they made sure that doors were locked. Yes, they made sure that no one could enter in the room. They locked themselves because they were filled with fear.
This tells us that fear can actually paralyze us. Fear can prevent us in making movements and in making decisions. Consequently, when we become fearful we also settle to what is only minimal and comfortable for us, then, this makes us complacent. We wont take risks because we are afraid of rejection and failure, then, this makes us a “sigurista.” We will become persons who want to make things certain, thus, we too will tend to become controlling and demanding in our relationships. Yet, we will be disappointed because we can never control others, not even our life. We can never be certain of all things. There are things that are way beyond us.
We can only respond to it by taking risks, by conquering our fears through faith. This is the very reason why Jesus appeared in the midst of his fearful disciples. Jesus wants them to get out from the attitude of fear. And what Jesus did was to give them PEACE by giving them the Holy Spirit.
The Acts of the Apostles told us what happened on that Pentecost. Aside from the noise that sounded like a violent wind and the tongues of fire that rested on each of them, there was a more interesting expression of the Spirit that happened there. The disciples of the Lord who were mostly Galileans spoke about the goodness and power of God. Though they spoke in their own native language yet strangers and foreigners understood what the disciples were talking about.
Yes, foreign peoples grasped what the disciples of Jesus had proclaimed because at that moment when they became confident and unafraid. They were able to get out from their fears of being persecuted, from their doubts about Jesus and from their insecurities of the coming days. They realized how good God is. They truly believed that Jesus is Lord, though he died on the cross but was raised to bring salvation to all.
All of these realizations were fruits of their journey with Jesus. With the Holy Spirit, the disciples found peace in their hearts, meaning, these fearful and doubtful disciples of Jesus had at last found and recognized God in their life, in their human experiences.
Jesus said, “Peace be with you!” which also means, “I am with you!” because Jesus is the Prince of Peace. The Lord who is with his disciples sends them now. And so, they have become witnesses of Jesus – witnesses who convey God’s offer of salvation and love not just to a particular group of people but to all, to Jews and Greeks, to rich and poor, to you and to me.
This is how the foreigners understood the disciples of the Lord and in effect were converted to believe in Jesus. Thus, a church was being born, a church that is not fearful of persecutions and a church that joyfully sings God’s goodness and love.
What is it to you and to me now, as a church gathered here today? Our birthday celebration today is not meant to be a mere remembering of the past. This feast of the Pentecost calls us rather to relive or to re-experience the first Pentecost. Yet, not really to experience again the strong wind or tongues of fire above our heads, but rather to experience again those feelings of being confident with God, being secured by his love, by being courageous and honest enough to share the kindness of God and his love to others. Because you and I, have already received the Holy Spirit.
For us to be more sensitive of the working of the Holy Spirit in our life it would be good then to be aware of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the effect of the evil one in our life. Be mindful of these…
- The Holy Spirit gives us peace, confidence and serenity yet, the evil spirit makes us doubtful, fearful, anxious and having a low self-esteem.
- The Holy Spirit encourages us, lifts our spirit but the evil spirit makes us down, depresses us, discourages and upsets us.
- The Holy Spirit brings us comfort and joy, humor and laughter but the evil spirit makes us angry and irritable.
- The Holy Spirit makes us appreciate things and others, makes us grateful to God. But the evil spirit makes us unsatisfied, ungrateful, complaining, makes us see only the defects/negatives in everything and everyone including ourselves.
- The Holy Spirit makes you feel loved, accepted and forgiven. But the evil one makes you feel bad, terrible, horrible, disgustful, unloved and accuses us of our wrongdoings making us guilty always.
The invitation for us now is to be constantly aware of the Holy Spirit in all of our human experiences. In that way, we may be able to discover a God who loves us truly and to be confident in God. In hope, we shall find peace, peace within us, in our family, country and peace in this troubled world. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR