Feast of Pentecost by Jambo

Sunday Readings in brief Pentecost C
Acts 2:1-11; Ps 103 (104); Rm 8:8-17; Jn 20:19-23
Who is the Holy Spirit?

Dear friends, today is the feast of the Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples of Jesus in the upper room just as he had promised them. Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentēkostē meaning fifty days of the fiftieth day after Easter Sunday. The Jews called it Shavaut and it was celebrated 50 days after the Sabbath following the day of Passover when God delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians. For Christians, this is the day when the community of believers was born through the preaching of Peter and his colleagues. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day” (Acts 2:41). This is what we have today as the Church built on the foundation of the apostles.
But who is the Holy Spirit? During the creation of the world, we read that the Holy Spirit who is also translated as “Wind” was hovering over the waters (Gen 1:2).

Throughout the Old Testament texts, we read how God inspired some people among communities by his spirit to do a certain task on his behalf. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the image of a dove. Today Jesus send the Holy Spirit upon his disciples and they are filled with courage to preach to the same crowd they were afraid of a few days before. This same Holy Spirit continues to dwell in us through baptism and confirmation.

We know that God exists first because as St. Augustin of Hippo says, he made us for himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in him. God put in everyone a desire for him though many people spend all their life, denying his existence. Second, God has revealed himself to us through his spirit. God chose to reveal himself to us, not as a solitary person living somewhere very far from us and remote-controlling everything, but rather he reveals himself to us as a community that is known as the Holy Trinity. The entire history of salvation can be divided into three major phases. Phase 1 is the creation of the universe, the election of the nation of Israel as the bearers of the salvation of the world, and God’s intervention in the lives of his people through judges, prophets, and kings. It is the phase where God the Father is the major protagonist.

Phase 2 is the phase of God the Son, Jesus the Christ. This comprises the birth, ministry, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Jesus, the Son of God was sent into the world to bring salvation to all who would believe in him. His mission was foretold by the prophets long before (see Is 61:1). God decided to send his own Son to save the world from eternal damnation. Phase 3 is that of the Holy Spirit from the day of Pentecost until the present day. It is the time of the New Testament and the time of the Church. God continues to create, sustain and save his people through the Holy Spirit. During baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit and the Sacrament of confirmation adds to us his gifts that help us to live according to the will of God.

However, not everyone understands who the Holy Spirit is just as many during the time of Jesus did not understand him. While the Scripture present to us the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Triune God, some regard him as a tool for preaching and performing miracles. The Holy Spirit is the owner and the protagonist in the mission of preaching the Good News of salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ. Those who are chosen to be ministers of the God news are only instruments of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspires us to preach, teach, heal and perform other signs to save the people. St. Paul reminds us that, it is the Holy Spirit who inspires us to call ‘Abba, father’.

Today, many misunderstand the gift of tongues given to the apostles. We read that when the Holy Spirit descended upon them, they began to speak in tongues such that all the people present could understand them each in their native language. This is very different from making strange noises and uttering words that no one can understand including those who utter them. The day of Pentecost is the opposite of the day of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9) when God confused the languages of men who tried to build a tower that would reach heaven.

The Holy Spirit works in us only when we keep the commandments that God gave us through his Christ. God the Father and the Son continue to live in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is the advocate who defends us against the forces of evil and helps us to be and do what is good.

Dear friends, let us not be confused by the merchants of miracles who think that the Holy Spirit is their tool and at their disposal. Let us adore the Holy Spirit and ask him to continue to renew in us the message of the Gospel and help us to be good.

Have a blessed Sunday.

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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Feast of Pentecost by Ilizwi

ILIZWI REFLECTIONS
Sunday, 5 June 2022
PENTECOST SUNDAY
Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34
Rom 8:8-17
John 20:19-23

COME HOLY SPIRIT
“We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” Jn 20:23

As Catholics we have for a long time suffered from what I call “forgetfulness of the Spirit”. Less and less emphasis has been placed on the Third Person of the Trinity and many evangelicals will say, “Catholics do not have the spirit”. And sadly, some Catholics believe it.

The first reading describes in a dramatic way the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. It describes the promised “baptism by fire”.

Pentecost is a Jewish feast, 50 days after the Sabbath following the Passover. They called it Shavuot, originally, a thankgiving for the harvest, and later a celebration of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, the covenant – remember the Jews arrived on mount Sinai in the 3rd month after leaving Egypt (i.e after Passover).

At the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, there was wind, noise, fire. The same accompanies the giving of the Spirit in the upper room, in the first reading. The Holy Spirit is for Christians the New law. Law which is not written on tablets of stone but in the heart. Jer 31:31-33 ““The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel … I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts…”

The giving of the law on mount Sinai was the foundation of the nation of Israel. The giving of the Spirit on Pentecost day, was the founding day of the Church. Today, is the Church’s birthday. As the spirit was there at creation (Gen 1:2), the spirit is present today as God recreates, creates a new people for himself – the Church.

In this new Church, the first gift of the spirit is the “gift of tongues”. This is not the gift of glossolalia (ecstatic speech as we experience in the Charismatic movement), but it is xenologia – speaking in foreign languages. With this gift, the apostles could preach to everyone.

This is a reverse of what happen at the tower of Babel, Gen 11, where human beings were divided by many languages. The gift of the spirit means that all the people now become one, they now understand each other.

The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is what explains how a terrified group of disciples locked behind locked doors in fear could all of a sudden go out and preach in boldness. They had received the promised power from on high.

Just as the disciples and mother Mary received the outpouring of the Spirit, so have we also received this spirit. Through the sacraments we continue to receive the sprit in the Church.

What is sad however, is the forgetfulness of the Spirit. Forgetting the power we have within us. Paul in the second reading says “the spirit of God has made a home in you” (v.9). Beloved, we have the Spirit within us. Just as God made Adam and breathed his breath in him (Gen 2:7), so does God who recreates us anew breath his spirit in us.

Most of us Catholics are like a beggar who sat on a particular box daily asking for coins from people who passed by. One day a stranger asked, what is in the box you are siting on, and he said “I don’t know”. Only to find out that there was gold inside! Imagine sitting on gold begging for coins – we suffer from “forgetfulness of the Spirit”.

The Holy Spirit is the power of God working in us. It is the presence of the risen Lord in our midst. It is the same power which raised Jesus from the dead, it is the resurrection power.

It is the same power through which God wants to dwell in you, transform you and give you fulfilment in life.

Paul in the 2nd reading tells us that forgetfulness of the Spirit leads to living according to the flesh, following our natural inclinations. This results in sadness, loneliness, addictions, violence in the family, fear etc. You feel sad and are enslaved, because of lack of the Spirit.

However, those with the indwelling power of the Spirit, have a deep sense of peace and joy. The Spirit brings out the best in you and makes you the best version of yourself.

Like the dead bones in Ezekiel 37, the Spirit wants to give you a new life today. Allow the Spirit to touch the dry bones of your relationships, anger, hurt, addiction and receive new life.

Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Fr. Ncube, SVD
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