HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF PENTECOST ( MASS DURING THE DAY) MAY 31,2020
“ And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us” (Romans 5:5)
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. It is the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon our Blessed Mother Mary and the Apostles in the form of fiery tongues of fire. It is a feast of the birth of the Church’s missionary activity manifested in the transformation of the frightened Apostles into fearless preachers and evangelizers. It is also a feast of unification manifested in the gift of tongues that united everyone in hearing the apostolic preaching of Peter in their native language; thus a reversal of the curse of Babel in Genesis 11:7. It is a feast of renewal indeed, renewal of God’s creation.
Celebrated 50 days after Easter by Christians or 50 days after Passover by the Jews, this feast has occupied a pride of place in Christianity because of the enormous influence of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, in our Christian life.
Catholic Theology says that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as from a single principle(filioque). He is together with the Father and the Son adored and glorified. It is He who spoke through the Prophets and continues to speak through the Prophets of our time and the magisterium. Hence He is the Teacher, the Advocate , the Consoler , the Helper , the Counselor The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Love because Love unites. He is the Love of the Father and the Son, the Love that binds the Trinity as one. It is “through the Holy Spirit [that] God exists in a mode of gift. The Holy Spirit is Person-Love and ‘Person-Gift”( John Paul II in Dominum et Vivicantem no. 10)
Although described in various symbolic ways as Fire, Breath, Wind, Dove, etc., in the scriptures, the Holy Spirit is essentially the one and the same Third Person of the Trinity, though His modes of manifestation and activity vary.
Why we need the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We need the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our world that is growing too cold to the gifts of God. A world bedeviled by the evils of secularism, communism, individualism, consumerism, and materialism. A world where men and women trust machines more than the Word of God. We need the Spirit to rekindle the fire and passion for things of God.
In a world where temptations are daily luring us away from obedience to God’s Word, we have the Holy Spirit to strengthen us in the war against sin and in bearing witness to Christ by our sincere and honest Christian lives.
We need the Holy Spirit because He sanctifies and makes us Holy through the sacraments. This is why we must receive them devoutly in a state of grace. A Christian who seeks to be holy must submit him/herself to the sanctifying power of the Spirit through the reception of the sacrament that is due at every stage of one’s life.
The world and social media constantly flood us with erroneous teachings. Even many Christian groups are not helping matters. Worse still, many governments of the world have legalized evils, making even the young and old confused in deciphering what is right or wrong, what is true or false, what is moral and immoral. We need the Holy Spirit to help us to discern what is the Will of God, what is right, and to enlighten our confused and darkened minds to the Truth. By listening to the Word of God daily and meditating on it, by submitting ourselves to the infallible teachings of the magisterium and by obeying and believing in our doctrines and dogmas, we can hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit re-echoing in our hearts. He inspires us too, to do good by speaking to us in the depth of our hearts and directing us to a worthy cause of action. Those who listen to this inner voice and wait for His directions, do not regret their actions or fail in their missions. When human sentiments, emotions, and affections becloud our minds, the Holy Spirit makes the distinctions and clarifies our vision.
Therefore commit everything to God in prayers because the Holy Spirit listens to us in prayers and helps us to pray in a more acceptable way(cf.Rom 8:26). When we dispose ourselves to the Holy Spirit we receive His gifts to function more effectively in our various callings and ministries in life. We need the courage of the Spirit to proclaim the Gospel fearlessly even if our life is endangered.
We really need Him even much more now. We must allow Him to influence and take control of our lives.
The first reading from Acts of the Apostles recounts the great event and the miraculous transformation that took place during the first Pentecost, thus fulfilling God’s promise to His Apostles of sending the Paraclete. They were empowered to preach and evangelize, and they preached fearlessly. Through Baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit and His fullness in Confirmation. Thus, we are empowered, like the Apostles, to be missionaries, to preach the Truth of God’s Word in words and actions anytime, any day, anywhere. We must fearlessly confront the evils in our society today rather than stay neutral or shrink away in fear and let evil thrive. The early martyrs were able to face their brutal persecution through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. He is still with us today and has not abandoned us or His Church. This is why we must condemn and uproot any unjust structures in society, and condemn unjust practices or laws. Evil can never triumph over good. We are soldiers of Christ. Let us not be afraid.
In the second reading from Paul’s letter to Corinthians 12ff, Paul explains that there are different spiritual gifts, fruits, and charisms but all come from the same Spirit given to each one of us for the same purpose of building up the body of Christ – the Church. Our gifts should unite us in this common mission and goal and should not be a source of conflict or division among us. Whoever uses his or her gifts for personal gains, not only causes division in the Church but works against the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel passage relates how the Risen Jesus gave His Apostles a foretaste of Pentecost on the evening of Easter Sunday by appearing to them and sending them to carry on the mission given Him by his Heavenly Father. He then empowered them to do so by breathing upon them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” On the day of Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send the Advocate or Paraclete. The Gospel also tells us how Jesus gave to the Apostles the power and authority to forgive sins. The presence of the Holy Spirit is bound inseparably with the gift of forgiveness and is referred to directly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It also has a much wider meaning. We are reminded today that our Christian vocation implies showing love to others and offering them forgiveness as we have been loved and forgiven by Christ; especially in our world today which is often fiercely judgmental and vengeful.
The feast of Pentecost offers us the chance to look at the role that forgiveness should play in our dealings with others. Thus, we are challenged to examine our sense of compassion, patience, tolerance, and magnanimity. Learning to forgive is a lifelong task, but the Holy Spirit is with us to make us agents of forgiveness. If we are prepared on this day of Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit into our lives, we can have confidence that our lives will be marked by the Spirit of forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit dwells in you. You are His temple. But you can expel Him through obstinacy in sin. Let us make our life a Holy Dwelling place for Him by reconciling with God in every situation of sinfulness. Let us listen to the Voice of the Spirit and allow Him to direct and influence our lives. May you be filled with His gifts and remain blessed.
Prayer :“Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love.”