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PENTECOST: RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Church is gathered today as on that day of Pentecost... “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; residents of Rome. Jews and proselytes alike- Cretans and Arabs…” What happens at such gathering? We hope to hear each other preaching about the marvels of God (Acts 2: 9-13) where the gift of Christ is evident, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22).

 

What about this gift of the Holy Spirit?

We need the Holy Spirit to be alive in faith, to be animated with evangelical zeal. In 1982, Pope John Paul 11 spoke to the congregation, "On the first Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles and upon Mary and filled them with power. Today, we remember that moment and we open ourselves again to the gift of that same Holy Spirit. In that Spirit we are baptized. In that Spirit we are confirmed. In that Spirit we are called to share in the mission of Christ. In that Spirit we shall indeed become the people of Pentecost, the apostles of our time." Just as Saint Paul elucidates in the second reading, “… and one Spirit was given to us all to drink" (1Cor. 12:13).

 

Christ speaks on our behalf, "I shall ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth" (John 14:15-17). "...the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name..." (John 14:26). Christ sends the Holy Spirit as the principal agent of mission. The Spirit has something to do in us as believers. He is the Vivifier, the Coach and Guide. And here’s his mission, "You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come upon you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth's remotest end" (Acts 1:7-8).

 

Mark that first line of Acts of the Apostles (Ch. 2:1) from today’s reading, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” The time for Pentecost came as God planned it, not as willed by humanity. The time for Pentecost is a manifestation of the divine presence not only in the church, but in the entire creation. God wills it that humanity, gathered from all over the world, would experience the Holy Spirit. Whereas Pentecost invites us to think about our own mission, it is first of all about God’s mission in creation. God wants to remake us. He sends the Holy Spirit to begin his work in us. He sends the Holy Spirit to heal our brokenness. The Holy Spirit comes to make us new.

 

Reading Dr. Matthew Breuninger’s book, Finding Freedom in Christ, I could not agree less with what he wrote (Chapter 3) about A God who wants to heal: “When Jesus encountered the sick man at the pool Beth-zatha, He put a question to him, “Do you want to be healed? (John 5:6). Can you hear these words echoing throughout time to you? Right now, at this moment, Jesus still asks the same question of us: Do we want to be healed?” To answer the question, the author further describes Jesus as desiring to heal that man but not conforming his will to the sick man’s will. Rather, “He questions the sick man in order to allow him to bring his will into conformity with God’s. God wants to heal.”

 

The Holy Spirit conforms us to God’s will. He refreshes our baptismal vows. The Holy Spirit brings God’s healing presence to us. For us to heal, we must first be healed by God. For instance, if we are not evangelized, we cannot evangelize. If we are not inspired, we cannot inspire. If we are not loved, we cannot love. If we are not christianized, we cannot christianize others. That follows both the law of simple logic and of faith. Remember what Christ said about the advocate when he was about to depart: “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” (Jn. 16:7-11)

 

Think of the Holy Spirit this way. You go to a computer store to buy a new gadget -laptop, phone, television, or any new technology. You try to power it for use. That new technology must be activated to make it work for you. Otherwise, it will not function even though you boot it to power. That activation is significant. Have you activated your code as a Christian and a believer in Christ or are you still in the factory setting? Christ says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Become activated!

 

To receive God’s Holy Spirit is to be ready for mission in an authentic, functional way. As man or woman, husband or wife, young or old, we must receive the Holy Spirit to function. Unfortunately, many of those who bear the name Christian today do not have God’s spirit, else we would not have so much evil and wickedness, lukewarmness and trepidation, depression and anxiety, insincerity and injustice, greed and impatience, negativity and fear. Christ says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Become revived and renewed. Become active in doing good. Become alive in spreading love, joy, peace, and truth. For this He says, "as the father sent me, so I am sending you." Start with this simple prayer, “Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your faithful…” Ask God for his healing in your heart. Tell God to make you feel him in your soul. Yes, begin with yourself, then your home. That’s your Jerusalem. Once you have the Holy Spirit, you can spread the good news to those in your life. It begins now.


Readings: 1st- Acts 2:1-11; 2nd- 1 Cor. 12:3-7, 12-13; Gospel- Jn. 20:19-23

 

 

 

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