Theme: Come Holy Spirit fire of Love
Pentecost rounds out and climaxes the Easter event. All that we have celebrated, that is, Jesus’ saving death, his resurrection and ascension to glory took place so that the Holy Spirit could be unleashed upon the world. Pentecost calls us to the realization that the center of all reality; the innermost heart of all infinity, the love of the all-holy God has become the center of our heart.
Pentecost confirms that God is with us as gift without reserve full of joy, knowledge and peace. The name of this gift is Holy Spirit while its experience is fire in our hearts. This gift is so powerful to the extent of infusing its recipients with new life. Our challenge is that we have yet to fully discover it, harness and become active participants in it for our redemption.
First reading: Acts 2:1-11
In this reading Luke attempts to describe the indescribable power of the Spirit in terms of noise, like a driving wind and tongues resembling fire. In a sweeping movement a group of believers gathered in the upper room were blasted from within and thrust out cf. Acts 1:13. They were wrested from what might have been quiet conversation and prayer into a maelstrom of sounds and sights cf. Acts 1:14. Of significance also is the fact that once the disciples were transformed and empowered by the Spirit, they in turn began to transform the world. In an instant, what had been a cacophony of disparate voices and languages were turned into clear understanding and insight. Thousands of pilgrims who had made their way to Jerusalem for the feast of the harvest witnessed the Spirit boldly proclaiming in their own languages. In a similar way as Jesus’ death and resurrection had been accomplished for the redemption of all peoples; so also was the abiding gift of the Holy Spirit being universally extended to all peoples.
If Kampala had been the venue for the nascent Church, Luke could have written, ‘how is it that each of us hears the message in his/her native tongue? We are Baganda, Luo, Bafumbura; yet each of us hears and understands! These various languages are an indication that through Jesus and his disciples, new maps has been drawn for God’s chosen people. Unlike the Jewish one, this Christian map was inclusive in scope meaning that on one would exclude. Gentiles as well as Jews, slaves and freed person, rich and poor, healthy and handicapped, women, men, friends and enemies had been handed an unconditional invitation to embrace salvation. Today, as every day, the Holy Spirit is still presenting to each of us this challenging offer.
Second reading: Galatians 5:16-25
Humanity without Christ can only be lived when one follows the instincts of the flesh which results in devastation; instead the person who lives in Christ is supported by the Spirit of God cf. Romans 8:9. In this reading we are presented with the fruits of the Spirit produced in the following sequence; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Those who live according to the flesh; their fruits are: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, selfishness, dissensions envy, drunkenness and factions. When supported by the power of the Holy Spirit we live a life based on values; but when invaded by the instinct of the flesh then our unity, discernment, order and authenticity gets swallowed by individualism, confusion and chaos. To live safely therefore we need to permanently subscribe to the gifts of the Spirit.
Such a rhythm is professional because it assists us to profess and live our faith in Jesus as Lord.
In Jesus we access a variety of gifts all originating from one Spirit. Each gift prompts us to exercise a ministry that most appropriately manifests our unique charisms. The Spirit teaches us to respect the uniqueness of every person. In communion we come to appreciate that every gift of the Holy Spirit has been given, not for self-aggrandizement but for our common good. To be authentic, each one of us must be a vital part in a web of power that generates true love because it is only when we are part of the greater whole that we are able to stay alive. On this feast of Pentecost, we the members of Christ’s need to stay sober and remember that united we stand.
Gospel John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
The Gospel of today presents a special emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Jesus desires that each one of us is born of Water and Spirit which comes from the side of crucified Christ and later more solemnly when He breathes the Holy Spirit upon the apostles on the evening of the resurrection cf. John 7:39. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete who stands along side with us especially when in trouble. Just as the Father was always with Jesus, so is the Holy Spirit is always with us. Among the roles of the Holy Spirit is to help us witness that Jesus is Lord and is risen from the dead. Wherever we are sent, the Holy Spirit is our permanent companion. The Holy Spirit is also the source of truth capable of interpreting the words of one who is the way, the truth and the life. Without the Holy Spirit, none of us can comprehend the meaning and the intension of life in Christ. Because of the Holy Spirit the Church has been able to brave the world after the Ascension. The earthly departure of Jesus has not left a vacuum but a fulfillment of the promise. The Holy Spirit makes us committed followers of the risen Lord and facilitates the Church to be continuously born in all corners of the world.
In one of his many insightful reflections about living a committed Christian life in the midst of an unreceptive culture, Dom Helder Camara once prayed, “Lord, what is the point of your presence in our lives if our lives do not change? Change our lives, shatter our complacency. Take away the unwarranted quietness of our conscience. Press us uncomfortably. For only in this is our peace made. Amen”. Today the Church once again puts before us the disciples’ first experience of the risen Christ and the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. Through the living word of scripture, the Church asks us to change our lives and make an impact on the world in which we live. Our fear and complacency must be transformed into power and passion. Our forgiveness of sin has to be a reality in which we believe and exercise our respective responsibilities. John in today’s gospel tells us that before their experience of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the disciples had hidden themselves away in a locked room “for fear of the Jews” John 20:19. Instead, Jesus’ sudden presence among them, without benefit of key he opened the door and transformed them it courageous witnesses of his message. Showing them his hands and side with wounds from spear and nails made them believe that no challenge is impossible to solve when one has faith in God. To follow Jesus means never to count the cost.
Today being Pentecost day we ought to allow Jesus to transform and empower each one of us through the active presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is willing to assist us bear good fruit and ours is to collaborate. The Holy Spirit will give us graces that make us unique and exceptional followers of the risen Lord. The double wish from Jesus to each one of us today is, peace be with you. May the fire of Pentecost light our way to preach the gospel in season and out of season.
Fr. Paulino Mondo