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Homily (Reflection) for Pentecost Sunday, Year C (15th May, 2016) on the Gospel and the Solemnity

Acts 2:1-11;
Ps 103:1.24.29-31.34. (R. cf. v. 30);
Rom 8:8-17 or 1Cor 12:3b-7.12-13;
Jn 14:15-16.23b-26 or Jn 20:19-23.

The Church celebrates today the great day of Pentecost when Christ filled the Church with the power of His Spirit and sent it out into the world to bring peace, joy and forgiveness to all mankind.[1] In other words, today is the birthday of the Church.

Topic: Holy Spirit is a Gift.

As we celebrate this solemnity, it is important to remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit is a gift for those who keep the commandments of God and who ask for the gift, cf. Acts 5:32; Lk 11:13. But these are not enough. One ought to know what he or she is asking for otherwise the gift will be useless. Remember the prayer of Simon the magician, cf. Acts 8:19. In the words of St Paul, “Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14). And in today’s gospel Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever (Jn 14:15-16).

William Barclay rightly noted,

A person who has eliminated God never listens for him; and we cannot receive the Holy Spirit unless we wait in expectation and in prayer for him to come to us. The Holy Spirit gate-crashes no man’s heart; He waits to be received. So when we think of the wonderful things which the Holy Spirit can do, surely we will set apart some time amidst the bustle and the rush of life to wait in silence for his coming.[2]

Again, in the Holy Spirit, there are many gifts, cf. Heb 2:4. Just as the Holy Spirit is a gift and is given by God to whomever He chooses, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are also given as it pleases God. However, speaking in tongues and healing bodily ailments for many including priests are the litmus tests for possessing the Holy Spirit. Hence, aberrations keep multiplying just to make people believe that we are what we are not. But these two are neither the only gifts of the Holy Spirit nor even the chief ones. Why their pursuit with all vigour and left other gifts of the same Spirit freely given by God to die away? In his first letter to the Corinthians St Paul wrote,

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses (1Cor 12:7-11).

Most often these most sought-after are for the good of the possessors which is against the intention of the giver. The Holy Spirit is for the common good, cf. 1Cor 12:7.

A little girl was visiting her grandmother in a small country town in the South. They attended a very emotional religious service, where people expressed their feelings by jumping about and shouting ... what we might call a “Holy Roller” service.

The little girl asked her grandmother if all the jumping meant the Holy Spirit was really there. Her grandmother said, “Honey, it don’t matter how high they jump, it’s what they do when they come down that will tell if it is the real thing.[3]

As we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost, it is good to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. However, we must remember that Christ filled the Church with the power of His Spirit and sent it out into the world to bring peace, joy and forgiveness to all mankind and not war. So please, do not ask for the gift with which you can fight your enemies. Remember, God gives His Spirit to those who obeys his commandment, cf. Acts 5:32 and we know His commandment; that we love one another as He has loved you (Jn 15:12). Again, never claim what you have not lest you lead people away. And God will surely ask of any soul one causes to fault, cf. Matt 18:6; Mk 9:42. And finally, every gift of the Holy Spirit is as good as the other. Serve God well with whatever gift/s that you have received. When used well, they will all lead to the same heaven.

Bible Reading: Rom 8:1-17; 1Cor 12:4-31; 1Cor 13; 1Cor 14; Eph 4:25-5:2.

Thought for today: Holy Spirit if for the good of all.

Let us pray: God, give us the grace to keep all your commandments and the gift of your Holy Spirit for the good of all–Amen.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom 15:13) and may “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2Cor 13:14) – Amen.

Nota bene: The solemnity of Pentecost marks the end of Easter season. I therefore wish you all a happy end of Easter period and pray that you live always as the children of resurrection.

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[1] The Sunday Missal: A New Edition (1984). HarperCollinsReligious, London, p.776.
[2] Barclay, W. (2006). The daily study bible: The gospel of John, 6. Theological Publications in India: Bangalore, pp. 167-8.
[3] Fuller, G. (2010). Stories for all seasons: For every Sunday, every year, every preacher, every teacher. ST PAULS: Mumbai, p. 119.

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