A New Pentecost: Come, O Holy Spirit!
Readings: 1st: Acts 2: 1-11; Ps 103: 24-34; 2nd: 1Cor 12: 3-7.12-12; Gos: Jh 20: 19-23
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today is Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is a feast which occupies a very important and prominent position in the Church’s history and liturgical calendar. This is because it serves as the bridge between Easter Season and Ordinary Time of the year.
The first reading of this Sunday tells the story of how Christ eventually fulfilled his promise to his disciples, who faithfully obeyed his command: “Do not leave Jerusalem until the advocate comes!” (Acts 1, 5). From the perspective of this reading, therefore, today’s celebration is a reward for faithful obedience and steadfastness in prayer.
It is important to note that one of the greatest aspects of this feast that is grossly misunderstood and abused is the gift of tongue. It is important that we grasp Paul’s teachings on the issue of gifts and speaking in tongues in 1 Cor 12 and 14. It is a gratuitous gift from God and does not come through learning and practicing.
Anyone who speaks false tongues is both blaspheming against God and committing sacrilege. That is, sin against the Holy Spirit. This gift was given to the apostles to aid them spread the good news to different people who gathered from all nations to listen to them: “Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem…each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language about the marvels of God.” It was not given to them to boost their ego, or for their own personal or selfish interest. Instead, it was given to them in order to edify the church and to transmit the message of eternal life on to others.
In the second reading of today, Paul makes a very important statement: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.” What this means is that it is God himself that enables us through the gifts we have received today in order to recognize the lordship of Christ. Recognizing the lordship of Christ was a difficult task for Satan because, the Holy left him.
The obvious fact is that when Paul uses the phrase “say Jesus is Lord”, he is not simply referring to the literary pronouncement of the lordship of Christ. Rather, he means is, making Jesus the Lord of one’s life. To achieve this, one needs the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
To say Jesus is Lord is to live it, and to actually have him as the lord of one’s live. Only those who are being led by the Holy Spirit are truly sons and daughters of God (Rom 8, 14). It is the Spirit that we receive today, that will therefore prompt us to proclaim the lordship of Christ: “You received the spirit of sonship, and by him, we cry Abba Father. The spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom 8, 15-16).
In today’s gospel, we see the Trinitarian God in action, each doing and completing His action and yet united. They operated as though they were involved in a relay race, where each handed over the baton to the other. However, in spite of this, none of them was passive at any moment. Jesus says, “as the Father sent me so I am sending you, receive the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit we received today has in no way come to replace Christ. Rather, He has come to help us achieve what he helped Christ achieve. Therefore, the same Spirit empowers us to move out in order to testify to the lordship of Christ. It is a new Pentecost, so we implore the Lord: “Send forth your spirit Lord, and renew the face of the earth.
Peace be with you all!