Pentecost Sunday 

Holy SpiritSt John says it was on the 1st day of the Week, the day of Resurrection but St Luke in the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit says that it was at the time of the harvest festival, Pentecost, the fiftieth day.  The place is the same – the upper room.  The atmosphere is the same – the disciples were full of fear: fear of the Jews; fear of the consequences of this event.

Perhaps the fear of the Holy Spirit is still a factor in our commitment as Christians, as disciples.  Are we thirsty for the Holy Spirit or do we have instead an unacknowledged fear of the Holy Spirit?  We suspect that if the Holy Spirit comes, not everything in our existence will be the same.  The Holy Spirit could even make us do “strange” things that we are not ready to accept.

Whoever is infused with the Holy Spirit is never left sedentary or inactive.  Our prayer before our Pentecost might be like St Augustine’s before his conversion: “Grant me chastity and self-control, but please not yet.”  We might all be tempted to say, “Come, Holy Spirit, come . . ., but not right now and especially, no strangeness and singularity!  Isn’t God all about order, decorum, composure and equilibrium?”

In the Scripture accounts of Pentecost the words that stand out are surely Wind, Tongues and Fire.  Wind suggests dynamism and power and energy, Fire is symbolic of purification and the ardour of Love and Tongues are what we use to Proclaim.  All of this defines what a disciple is

The Sacrament of Confirmation – the sacrament which is most associated with the movement of the Holy Spirit is a sacrament of Confirmation and of Commitment.  This is the sign of a two-way action – the action of the Holy Spirit and the action of the disciple.  It is, of course similar to what happens at Religious Profession – action of the Holy Spirit and profession of the religious.  The call which the Lord makes as He promises the Holy Spirit in today’s Gospel is the call to Proclaim and the call to Forgive. We understand more clearly the call to Proclaim.  The Apostles took up the call immediately and began to proclaim to the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, etc. They needed to use different languages and they needed to understand different cultures.  When the Holy Spirit comes we are empowered to speak ‘different languages’, so that many may understand.  We are given the graces and gifts to identify with strange customs, not necessarily of Asia, Pamphylia and Egypt, but perhaps of Nigeria, Ukraine and South Africa.  We thank God today for those gifts, talents and graces and the way that God can us to bring the Good News of the marvels that the Lord has done..

The call to Forgive, to save, is basic to the mission of the disciple.  Jesus leaves his disciples with a uniquely Christian ministry.  To forgive, to ask for forgiveness and to accept forgiveness is possible for us because of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Mark Twain define forgiveness; “Forgiveness is the fragrance that a violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” So, forgiveness is not merely a blotting-out or cancelling of debt but a spreading of fragrance which is lasting, up-building and which is going forward towards a Perfect Peace. The great American activist, Martin Luther King said that forgiveness is “Not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”  

If the Apostles could have chosen and decided themselves the way the Spirit would have been manifested in them, they would never have exposed themselves to the ridicule of people who said “they have had too much new wine”.  And yet this is the way it happened.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to take away our fear of the Holy Spirit. Let us say, ‘Come, come Holy Spirit!  Come now, come as you wish.  Bend, warm, cure, water, burn renew’.

Bend us out of our stiffness, warm our cold hearts, cure our many ills, quench our thirst with living water, enflame a burning zeal within us and renew our commitment to our mission, Your mission.