COME, HOLY SPIRIT, COME!
(A biblical refection on the PENTECOST SUNDAY, 15 May 2016)
First Reading: Acts 2:1-11
Psalms: Psalm 104:1,24,29-34; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3-7.12-13 or Romans 8:8-17; Gospel Reading: John 14:15-16,23-26
The Scripture Text
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:1-11 RSV)
Among the qualities we must admire in others – and hopefully to be admired and found in ourselves – is fidelity. Perhaps fidelity is so admired because we experience it so rarely. What is fidelity? Fidelity is a virtue (strength) of character by which we keep our word in the face of danger and personal loss.
It is often said that times change and with it our commitments. When we make a commitment the circumstances are known. However, tomorrow or next week things may be different. This is certainly true. Yet what must endure is fidelity to our word regardless of the change of circumstances and the inconvenience that we may fac. Our word cannot be binding only when things suit us or work to advantage. Our various pledges and vows (husband, wife, priest, teacher, doctor, student, etc.) can weigh heavy on our hearts. New obligations and even misfortunes can arise. What to do? The faithful person “keeps on keeping on”. The faithful person continues to keep watch and refuses to just walk away.
Pentecost Sunday is a powerful example of Jesus’ fidelity. In the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel we read: “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18-20). Today we celebrate the gift of the Spirit and the beginning of the public witnessing of the faith-community. Through His passion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension Jesus remained faithful. He told His followers of His constant love and guidance. Today is one of the great joy, for the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts. We can believe and trust the words of Jesus. They are forever.
Our first reading from Acts, recounting the Pentecost story, says that the Holy Spirit came to rest on the disciples, who “began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). The fear that once gripped their hearts is now replaced by God’s liberating love. They must go public and witness that “Jesus is Lord”. They mus go forth and share the peace they have received from Jesus. As their sins have been forgiven, so they must now set about the ministry of reconciliation: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23).
On this Pentecost we must ask some very profound questions of ourselves and our community: How do we witness that Jesus is Lord? Are we chariots of fire alive and burning with the flame of Pentecost? Are we bold in our proclamation and even bolder in working for justice, peace and forgiveness among individuals and communities? For today is the day that we are sent forth to proclaim peace and forgiveness froam the only One who is lasting peace and total forgiveness. The Holy Spirit comes as a flame to burn away our illusion and liberate us to see the world on fire for Christ and His peace. In a world which so desperately needs the Holy Spirit, let us be about the work of Pentecost.
There are so many false flames in the world seeking to “light up our life”. Yet in the end such flames only consume us and leave us dead and cold. The Holy Spirit is a flame of bold conviction and profound proclamations about Jesus and the truth of our lives. The flame of the Holy Spirit does not consume us but transforms us into the likeness of the One who said: “Please I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you … You heard Me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you’” (John 14:27-28). Today in the Spirit, Jesus comes into our hearts. Let us earnestly pray: “Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Holy Spirit, come!”
Note: Adapted from Rev. William F. Maestri, GRACE UPON GRACE, Makati, Philippines: ST. PAUL PUBLICATIONS, 1990, pages 45-47.
Prayer: Father of light, from whom every good gift comes, send Your Holy Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of Your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Loosen our tongues to sing Your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without Your Holy Spirit man could never raise His voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord, who lives and reign with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jakarta, 14 May 2016
A Christian Pilgrim