Let our tongues be on fire!

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

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.”

On the day of the first Pentecost, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit who appeared to them like “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3). The Spirit rested on each of them, bringing unity and freedom from the bondage of fear. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the disciples were transformed from being fearful to courageous. They fearlessly proclaimed the Good News of Salvation to all people and became true witness for Christ and for the Truth. Wearing Christ, they loved what Jesus loved and despised what Jesus despised. Like Jesus, they were bold, righteous, yet merciful.

However, from this first Pentecost up till now, Satan has not stopped trying to intimidate and silence us, re-injecting fear back to our lives. Shall we yield to Satan or the Holy Spirit? It is a choice we need to make constantly. Remember that the Holy Spirit helps us remain faithful to Christ. “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) The Holy Spirit has the power to transform us, just as He did to St. Peter, helping him to concern more about heeding God’s voice than his own, thus keeping his focus on God’s work and fighting off fears.

Fighting Satan alone is dangerous. We need to form an army. That is why we need the Church (Christian community) to help us remain strong and faithful. In her, we share the unique gifts that are given to each of us. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7) The universality of the Church also reminds us the impartiality of God’s love for all people, “Jews or Greeks, slaves or free” (1 Corinthians 12:13) which is the model we need to adopt as we proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21) As we call to mind Jesus’ promise to be with us always until the end time (Matthew 28:20), let us remember to cling to and draw strength from this One Body in Christ, just as the branches must remain on the vine in order to bear much fruit. (John 15:1-5)

“Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.” (Acts 18:9-10)

Let us not be gripped by fear anymore! Let our tongues be on fire! Let them be taken by the Spirit and proclaim to the world that the Christ crucified and is risen is our Saviour, our Lord!

Other Sunday Reflections

Paul Yeung

Executive Director of Fountain of Love and Life (FLL).