Christ’s Passover is Our Passover

Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-11

When 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."

1 Corinthians 12:3B-7,12-13

Brothers 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.

John 20:19-23

On 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."

Pentecost Sunday, traditionally associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit, is in fact, the celebration of the Church’s birthday. The word literally means 50th day or 50 days after Easter Sunday. Jews also celebrate the completion of Passover on Pentecost. This is an important day in the life of the Church on which Jesus’ Apostles, after receiving the Holy Spirit in the image of “divided tongues … of fire”, begin their earthly ministry of evangelization – to “make disciples of all nations” (Acts 2:3; Mt 28:19). Christ’s Passover – his suffering, death, and resurrection – is “fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance” (CCC 731).

In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that the Holy Spirit refuses to come quietly, rather, it announces itself with a “rush of violent wind” that fills the entire house and “divided tongues, as of fire” resting on each of the Apostles (Acts 2:3). Imagine: The wind must have blown over everyone and everything in the house; turning all furniture and household items upside down and inside out, and throwing everyone and everything into an absolute mess! However, it is from the depth of such absolute chaos that new life may arise.

The Son of God chooses to fulfill his mission by submitting to the earthly authorities of the High Priest Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate. Blown by the violent wind of injustice, the world is turned topsy-turvy where falsehoods are seen as truth. Though he is battered by such “violent wind” of false accusations and torture, he stands up tall and strong like a “a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (Is 42:3). Three days after Jesus’ death, God raises up His “suffering servant” from the depth of hell and “allot[s] him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death” (Is 53:12). God, the author of life, has created a new order out of utter chaos.

The Psalmist recognizes that God is the source of life and without God, everything will “die and return to their dust” (Ps 104:29). He implores God to send forth the Spirit and renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104:30). The Apostles, like the “dry bones” in Ezekiel’s writing, come alive and begin speaking in different languages about the great deeds of God: “O dry bones, [...] I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord’” (Ezek 37:4-6). Not only does the breath of the Holy Spirit revive and refresh the spirits of the Apostles by casting their fears aside, it also empowers them to speak boldly with conviction in order to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).

Indeed, the Apostles’ lives have been turned upside down and inside out when Christ appears in their midst and “breathed on them”. This “violent wind” definitely kick-starts an amazing journey by first disarming whatever presumptions they might have held and challenging each one of them to be the hands and feet of Christ. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles’ fear is dispelled and replaced with faith and joy. Indeed, the fire of the Holy Spirit sets the Apostles’ hearts on fire.

Therefore, Christ’s Passover is our Passover, too. The breath of God gives life to “dry bones” and raises up Christ from the dead. It also unravels and renews our spirit; coaxing us to shed our hard shell of fear, distrust, conceit, and deceit. Just as the Holy Spirit empowers the Apostles on the Day of the Pentecost, it also empowers us to believe and recognize that each of us is endowed with unique gifts; we “though many, are one body” in Christ through baptism. Like the Apostles, let us come out from hiding and speak boldly to make disciples of all nations!

Posted: May 20, 2018

Susanna Mak

 
Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


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