Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7,12-13/Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23 (15:26-27,16;12-15)
Jesus Breathes the Holy Spirit
The great Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) wrote with bitterness: “Many Christians have an excessive poor knowledge about the Holy Spirit. They mention His name in pious exercises, but their faith is no longer alive. They do not speak about His gifts; they do not know them except for a few lines they learned at catechism” (Encyclical: Divinum Illud Munus).
Today is Pentecost Sunday which we better call the Feast of the Holy Spirit. Actually, the meaning of the word Pentecost is ‘fiftieth’ and was the second of the three most important of the annual feasts of the Jewish calendar. For Christian people, ascension occurred on the 40th day after which bases the 40th day anniversary of the death of a person. This Pentecost feast occurred seven weeks after Passover feast. For the Christians especially Catholics, this feast occurs after the resurrection of Jesus. This feast for the Jews was primarily a feast of thanksgiving for the harvest: the first fruit of the wheat crop was offered to God on that day. Later, the giving of the Law of Moses in Mt. Sinai was also commemorated on this feast day.
Pentecost Sunday is always associated with the descent and giving as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. But Pentecost is the moment when God manifests Himself in a hidden way, silent and simply way.
This Pentecost feast is called also the Birthday of the Church. It is because even though the apostles received the Holy Spirit on Christ’s first appearance to them after His resurrection (Jn 20:22), but it was on Pentecost day this descent of the Holy Spirit became a public manifestation by which the crowds were amazed including local and foreign Jews who gathered in Jerusalem on that great occasion. One of the marks of a Catholic is implicit here because different people with different languages could understand the apostles’ preaching even if they spoke unto them their own tongue.
May be it is good to talk about the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit is the proper name of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is a true God just like the Father and the Son. He is a Person, distinct from the Father and distinct from the Son. This name is frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles. When Jesus proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls Him the “Paraclete” literally mean, “He who is called to one side,” (or Advocatus in Latin) and commonly translated as “Consoler”. He is Advocatus or Advocate since He is a witness for the defense on behalf of Christ and assisting the disciples testifying for the Lord. Jesus also calls Him as “Spirit of truth.” St. Paul addresses Him as the “Spirit of the promise, the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of God”. St. Peter also called Him as the “Spirit of glory” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 691-693).
The Sacrament of Confirmation is particularly the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit. But how little is this sacrament known and appreciated. By virtue of this sacrament, we have been commissioned and strengthened for witnessing to Christ more than ever before. Through this sacrament we receive what we are known in catechism as the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit”: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. If we use these Gifts we shall receive as rewards the so-called “Fruits of the Holy Spirit”, namely: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Benignity, Goodness, Long-suffering, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Continence and Chastity.
There are so many symbols being used for the Holy Spirit. Like for example, water which symbolizes the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism and efficacious sign of a new birth; anointing with oil which signifies that the Lord is with the baptized; fire which symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions; hand especially the laying on of hands is a vivid example of the outpouring Holy Spirit; finger which symbolizes the Holy Spirit to remind us of our teamwork and unity that we must have; dove used in the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit; and wind. The term spirit translates the Hebrew word ruah meaning breath, air and wind and many more.
Lastly, this Holy Spirit being sent by Jesus has given to us many stories of conversions. Like for example in the movie entitled “Vincent ‘Bingbong’ Crisologo Story”. A true to life movie portrayed by Rudy Fernandez of a man who used to make headlines terrorizing people in Ilocos Sur with guns, goons and gold. Eventually, he paid for his misdeeds in Muntinlupa where this once notorious political terror broke down and like the merciless prosecutor Saul experienced a 180-degree conversion. Now he is the head servant of one of the biggest Catholic Charismatic communities in Manila, the Loved Flock. He becomes an instrument for the conversion of other people.
There are a lot of such conversions happening at present. And one of them could be you. There is no doubt that behind all these, the Holy Spirit has been guiding, prodding and working actively as the invisible mysterious force. Can we recognize Him?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B
Back to: Pentecost Sunday (Year B)