Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

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

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from 365 Days with the Lord


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.”


2008 The Holy Spirit in the church

Originally, Pentecost was a Jewish feast called Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. A week of weeks is 49 days, but if you count both ends (as the Semites did), it comes to 50. It was celebrated on the 50th day after the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of the First-Fruits. It was a major feast and a very popular one on which Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate.

The awesome story of the first Christian Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, is told in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Luke, its author, initiates this new creation in the same way in which he tends to highlight important events like the birth of Mary’s Child (2:6) and Jesus’ resolute determination to go to Jerusalem to fulfill His mission and die (9:51). He now introduces the dawning of the age of the Holy Spirit as the dominant reality in the life of humankind. In Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the word for “spirit” is the same as the word for “breath” and for “life.”

As symbols of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Luke uses a driving wind, sound, fire, and tongues (Acts 2:2, 3). These symbols wouldn’t have been strange to Jews who knew their Scriptures. The Spirit of God blew over the waters at creation and rushed upon David on the occasion of His anointing as King (1 Sm 16:13). And God appeared frequently in the Jewish Scriptures in the form of fire, the best symbol to the Jews of the brightness and intensity of the activity of God – as, for example, God appearing to Moses in a burning bush and on Mt. Sinai in the form of lightning.

The familiar symbol of tongues is easily grasped as communicating a heavenly gift. Tongues of fire came to rest on each one of the Apostles (Acts 2:3) – due, as Luke points out (Acts 2:4), to the activity of the Holy Spirit. The phenomenon of the people from many nations understanding the Apostles is the countertype of the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel (Gn 11).

The activity of the Spirit is the subject matter of the rest of the Acts of the Apostles. The Spirit instructs the early missioners, is the driving force in proclaiming the message of salvation, is responsible for conversions to the new faith, gives strength in persecution, is the inspiration for Paul’s journeys, and is responsible for the inclusion of non-Jews in the early Church. And all of God’s saving activity until the end of time is due to the loving action of the Holy Spirit.

But perhaps the greatest marvel was the fact that weak, timid, and shallow men were changed into bold and wise men who would reach the ends of the earth to proclaim Jesus.

SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328

2010 Opening Doors
The first images the world saw of the newly elected Pope John Paul II in 1978 were highly symbolic. Here was a young and energetic man, with arms open wide as if to embrace the world. With his election to the See of Peter, fresh air was blowing in the Church. The Piazza San Pietro, with its magnificent colonnades, gave the impression of embracing all kinds of people who gathered at the Vatican to commune with the Pope.
But the Pope would soon travel out of the Vatican to meet with men and women all over the world because, as he himself put it, “man is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission: he is the primary and fundamental way for the Church, the way traced out by Christ himself.” In these travels—and throughout his long Pontificate—he would tirelessly call out: “Peoples everywhere, open the doors to Christ!”
Pentecost Sunday is the day for opening doors. It begins with the locked doors of the Upper Room where the disciples hide for fear of the Jews (Jn 20:19). The risen Jesus comes and stands in their midst. He bestows on them the Holy Spirit, the “first fruit” of his passion and resurrection. The Spirit is given to arouse in them the Easter faith. That they may carry Christ’s message to the world, it is necessary, first of all, that they believe that Jesus rose from the dead. It is the Spirit that sanctifies them in the truth of this fundamental belief of Christianity.
Christ’s appearance to the disciples inaugurates the
theme of mission. The disciples’ mission is the prolongation
of Jesus’ own: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21). This is the mission of salvation; the power to forgive sins is combined with the showing of the marks of the wounds to show that forgiveness is the actualization of Christ’s sacrifice. The power comes with the gift of the Spirit which produces Easter faith, the source of new life and salvation.
Compared to the “Johannine Pentecost” which gives
the disciples a vision of the glorious Christ and the mission to continue his work, the Lucan version we read in the Acts of the Apostles shows the opening of doors to the world. The Spirit comes like a strong driving wind. The ruah (spirit, wind) blows where it wills, opening doors and hearts, enflaming the disciples’ hearts, resting on them like tongues of fire. The effect is devastating. Visitors from all over the world who gather in Jerusalem for the Jewish feast of Weeks or Pentecost witness the mighty acts of God as they hear the Galilean disciples in their own native language. Pentecost marks the birth of the Church as those who accept the message of the apostles are baptized and added to the original disciples (Acts 2:41).
After being canonically elected Pope on October 16, 1978, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland was asked if he would accept. He replied that in obedience to and with faith in Christ and with trust in the mother of Christ—despite great difficulties—he would accept. As Pope John Paul II, he intended to lead the Church into the future, into the new millennium. He would let himself be guided by unlimited trust in and obedience to the Spirit that Christ promised and sent to the Church.
The Pope steered the Church in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council which is the “new Pentecost” of our times. With the Council, the Church has opened its doors and windows to engage the world—all humanity—in its joys and hopes, grief and anxieties, and its endless search for meaning. What the Spirit said to the Church through the Council—despite momentary uneasiness—cannot lead to anything but more solidity in the Church and greater awareness of its saving mission.

2012 Receive the Holy Spirit. As Jesus completes his mission, by his dying and rising, he now gives the Holy Spirit as he breathes on the disciples. Jesus’ action recalls the creation account of God forming man of clay and blowing into it the breath of life so that man became a living being (cf Gn 2:7). Jesus is transforming the disciples to be new persons, giving them new life. They are recreated into a new and lasting relationship with God. They are made whole and one again with God.

The Holy Spirit takes the place, and continues the work, of Jesus when he returns to the Father. The role of the Holy Spirit is twofold.

First, the Holy Spirit guides us on the way of salvation. He leads us to the Father. He is our way to Jesus. We have to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and do what the Spirit advises us to do.

Second, the Holy Spirit makes us understand the words, the ways, and the will of Jesus. The Spirit gives the courage and strength, as he did with the apostles, to bear witness to the gospel to the point of death. The Spirit revitalizes and renews us, like the apostles, to live the faith.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.


2018 Peace and joy be with you
Peace in the Bible is rich in meaning. In the Old Testament, one who is at peace is happy; he has many descendants and friends; he is blessed with abundance and fruitful harvest; he eats his fill and sleeps without fear; and he triumphs over his enemies.

For the Israelites, there is more to peace than simply a good relationship with nature, with oneself, or with others.

True peace means a right relationship with the Lord God, because the Lord is peace (cf Jgs 6:24).

Jesus imparts true abiding peace to the disciples on the day of Pentecost. It is his peace that casts away the disciples’ fear and brings joy into their lives once again. His promise to send them the Spirit and to be with them is now fulfilled. Not only does his peace give joy and unlock doors closed by fear; it also brings freedom.

The Son who comes on a mission for the Father receives the Spirit and fulfills his mission. As he leaves to go back to the Father, he entrusts his mission to the disciples. Now, it is their turn to receive the Spirit that they may discharge their mission. Jesus is now glorified with the Father. The time to send and give the Spirit to the disciples has come.

Pentecost opens a new dimension in the life of the Church. With Christ’s peace, communion with the Trinity becomes possible. The gift of peace breaks the barriers of disunity and leads to the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to share the life of God with all believers. The Holy Spirit brings together all humanity.

Pentecost is a time for renewal. Christians are reminded of their apostolic mission to proclaim the Gospel in words and actions. The Spirit comes to bring peace and infuse our mission with enthusiasm and vigor.

* * *

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328



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