May 23, 2021 – Pentecost Sunday
+ Manny Cabajar, C.Ss.R. D.D.
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/052321-Day.cfm)
Pentecost is a big Jewish feast of gratitude for the harvest. Jesus comes to sow God’s Spirit. We see this Spirit working wonders among the blind, the sick, the lame and hungry. Jesus is condemned but returns to those who desert Him. He coaxes His disciples to raise their eyes and look beyond their own little world. They experience His Ascension.
Now, he appears again while they are closeted in a little upper room we don’t know except that it is in Jerusalem where people gather from every nation to express harvest gratitude. They speak different languages and have varied intentions. To their surprise illiterate Galileans speak to them in their own native tongue and preach in the language they understand.
Amazing! We know how hard it is to learn, speak and write in another language! Yet, when those illiterates speak, people from different countries understand. That is the novel experience of the new harvest, Pentecost! It’s the hearers, not the speakers, that make the claim!
We rarely experience such a harvest today! St. Paul hints that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord” unless influenced by the Holy Spirit. It is not easy to understand others if we don’t shed our mold of feelings and set habits, if we don’t dethrone ourselves and enthrone the other. To enthrone the other, we have to forgive self-centered habits in others but even more: we need to forgive them in ourselves. That is why the Lord says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”
Jesus’ gift of peace is more than an absence of trouble. His gift includes forgiveness of sins and fullness of what is good. The gift of the Spirit enables His disciples and us to live a new way of life – a life of love, peace, joy and righteousness. The outpouring of the Spirit creates the Church to continue Jesus’ mission in proclaiming the Good News. If we want to live a faith-filled life, we ask Jesus to fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, we often retain the sins of others and ourselves. So, we do not harvest the fruits of God’s Spirit among us. It is striking we are not told where the Apostles experience the Holy Spirit. Isn’t it because that could be any time and any place where we closet ourselves? Do we get the hint? Are we ready to say: “Jesus is Lord”? Are we ready to forget the pain, the insults, the injustice we bear? Are we ready to go beyond our horizons and see those from the vantage point of the Lord? Don’t our cities look like jewels when we fly over them at night?
Father, we thirst for the life of the Spirit in us to obey Your will. Thank You for the gift of Pentecost and new life in the Holy Spirit. Fill us with Your Spirit and set our hearts ablaze with the fire of Your love that we may serve You in freedom and joy. Amen.
Brothers and sisters, God may surprise us behind locked doors. The key is to be always open to the Holy Spirit!