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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." Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Greetings to you all on this great feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Church celebrates the paschal mystery, the perfect unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father and the Son breathe forth upon the Church and to the world with the Holy Spirit, the love that they share. The life of the Church is the life in the Holy Spirit, and we are now participating in the life of God. How blessed are we!

What does life in the Spirit look like? Let us reflect upon the magnificent account from the Acts of the Apostles, describing the Pentecost. “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, …a noise like a strong driving wind, …filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Ac 2:1-4) The Holy Spirit is like a strong driving wind. It is powerful, uprooting, overturning, uncontrollable, and unpredictable. Jesus says, “You do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (Jn 3:8). It is also transforming and life giving. It inspires descriptions like “tongues of fire” (Ac 2:3). All the spirit-filled apostles are going to become preachers to the world. All of them have received one or more “charismatic gifts”, namely the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, increased faith, the gifts of healing, the gift of miracles, prophecy, the discernment of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Christians have witnessed this in-rushing of the Holy Spirit up and down the centuries. Importantly, this stirring up of charismatic gifts is for the sake of the gospel, and building up the Church and Christian lives.

Throughout history, the Church has contributed tremendously to the world. It preaches, participates in social outreach and communities’ organization, visits the sick and the homeless, educates children, and initiates vast varieties of missions. The good works performed by the Church are always of great value, but they will not have been possible without the Holy Spirit. We cannot achieve all these missions through our own heroic efforts, but rather, by asking for it. Therefore, the Church, at its earliest and primitive moment, gathered precisely for that purpose, to pray and to beg for the Holy Spirit. It should also be a great comfort to us as Jesus is saying the Father would never refuse anyone who asks for the Holy Spirit. If you ask and beg for the Holy Spirit, knock on the door for the Holy Spirit, He will always give us the Holy Spirit.

Speaking of the charismatic gifts, every baptized person should have at least one of the gifts. “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,…with cheerfulness” (Rm 12: 6-8). When the Holy Spirit stirs us up, and we find our charismatic gifts, we must make that the centre of our life. Everything else in us now should find its place around the gifts. Everything else should make good use of the gifts, educate us further in that way, and help us to express them. To find our characteristic gifts is to find the pearl of great price, the treasure buried in the field. Jesus says when you find that pearl, “sells all that you have and buys it” (Mt 13:46). To obtain our greatest joy, we should order our lives this way, and that is what our life is about.

So, on this Pentecost Sunday, let us say unceasingly, “Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Come, Holy Spirit)! Let us also be opened to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, this extraordinary manifestation of God’s Spirit. Let us be receptive and opened to what the Spirit might do in our lives. Have a blessed Pentecost.

This is an excerpt from Bishop Robert Barron’s homilies, including
“The Dangerous Spirit” ,
“The Feast of the Spirit” , and
“The Falling of the Fire” .
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Posted: May 31, 2020

Ben Cheng


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