Pentecost Sunday 2020 St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish

 

Introduction

Pentecost is the celebration of the abundance of the gifts that God gives for the wellbeing

of the whole humanity. Do we keep ourselves or others in shut doors so that we are

deprived of the varieties of the capacities and horizons that God provides for humanity?

If so, then Pentecost is for us to receive the Spirit to set us free. Do we receive the free

gifts of the Spirit of God?

Theme

“He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.” (John 20:22)

 

Receive the Holy Spirit

“On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ's

Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and

communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in

abundance” (CCC 721). Pentecost is therefore the context and occasion to receive the

outpouring of the Holy Spirit as part of the gift of God. We receive the Holy Spirit as a

person instilled, infused and implanted in us like a spiritual transplant. This is why Jesus

“breathed on” the new people of God, just as God breathed on man the breath of life

(Genesis 2:7) to endow him with the quality of living being.

It is so important to receive the Spirit of life so much so that the risen Christ breathed on

his disciples and gave them the breath of life prior to asking his disciples to receive the

Holy Spirit: “και τουτο ειπων ενεφυσησεν και λεγει αυτοις λαβετε πνευμα αγιον, And

this having said he breathed on, and says to them, receive Spirit Holy” (John 20:22). The

implication and the significance of this is that everyone needs the living breath of God to

live, everyone needs the life-support of the Holy Spirit to live, and everyone needs the

donor of life to exist. That donor of life is the Holy Spirit who the risen Christ freely gave

to the whole humanity via his disciples. No one can survive without the support of the

Holy Spirit:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul.

O Lord my God, you are very great.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!

the earth is full of your creatures.

When you take away their breath, they die

and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created;

and you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;

may the Lord rejoice in his works.

May my meditation be pleasing to him,

for I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:1+24, 29-30, 31+34)

 

Every person needs the life-support of the Spirit of God:

“No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;

and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;

and there are varieties of activities,

but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

For just as the body is one and has many members,

and all the members of the body, though many, are one body,

so it is with Christ.

For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body

-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—

and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12.3b-7, 12-13)

The varieties of the life-support of the Holy Spirit are available to the whole humanity so

that no one will be deprived and dispossessed of the help of God. Why do we sometimes

live in spiritual doors that are shut when the risen Christ arrives?

The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the

authorities, but Jesus came and stood among them

Every human person needs the life-support of Holy Spirit because sometimes the doors of

the best conditions of human life are shut. The risen Christ is able to open spiritual and

human doors in order to give humanity access to the works and gifts of the Holy Spirit

for the common good. The risen Christ is able to open doors to remove obstacles of faith

such as fear, lack of peace, unhealthy authority, deadly and crippling situations, absence

of joy, and lack of mission and purpose in life:

“It was evening on the day Jesus rose from the dead,

the first day of the week,

and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked

for fear of the authorities.

Jesus came and stood among them and said,

“Peace be with you.”

After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again,

“Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:19-21)

How is the risen Christ carrying out a mission in the life of each person? How much

obstacles are preventing or slowing down the mission of the risen Christ in each person?

 

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they

are retained

The life-support of the Holy Spirit is so important that it empowers the community of the

believers and those of goodwill to reconcile with themselves, with their community and

with God (i.e., three dimensions of reconciliation: oneself, community and God).

The life-support of the Holy Spirit is very important to set the scope and platform for

humanity to let go of retaliation and revenge:

“Jesus said to them again,

“Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them;

if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23)

 

The Holy Spirit commissions each human person, without exception, to carry out the

mission of peace, forgiveness, and new breath of life:

“When the day of Pentecost had come,

they were all together in one place.

And suddenly from heaven there came a sound

like the rush of a violent wind,

and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them,

and a tongue rested on each of them.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit

and began to speak in other languages,

as the Spirit gave them ability.” (Acts 2:1-4)

The Holy Spirit who the risen Christ gave to his disciples and the Holy Spirit who filled

the whole house of the community of believers did not discriminate against anyone. The

Holy Spirit rested on each person to endow them with capacities such as ability, skills,

talents, gifts, and aptitudes to help support each person in the human community:

“Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven

living in Jerusalem.

And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered,

because all heard them speaking in their own languages.

Amazed and astonished, they asked,

“Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?

And how is it that we hear, each of us,

in our own language?

Parthians, Medes, 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 converts,

Cretans and Arabs-

in our own languages we hear them speaking

about God’s deeds of power.” (Acts 2:5-11)

The celebration of Pentecost is the opportunity to receive, acknowledge and use the skills

and abilities that are found across cultures and languages of the world for the common

good. This means that each person is commissioned by the Holy Spirit to bring their

ability to contribute to the peace, reconciliation, resilience, and rejoicing of the whole

humanity. Pentecost is a celebration of the abilities and skills given by the Holy Spirit to

each person to reconcile with oneself, with the community and with God. Pentecost is the

gathering of the whole humanity within the life-support of the Spirit of God.

 

Conclusion

Because it is very important to receive the Spirit of life, the risen Christ breathed on the

disciples and gave them the breath of life before encouraging his disciples to receive the

Holy Spirit: “και τουτο ειπων ενεφυσησεν και λεγει αυτοις λαβετε πνευμα αγιον, And

this having said he breathed on, and says to them, receive Spirit Holy” (John 20:22). The

risen Christ was literally asking everyone to reconcile with the Spirit of God. The

varieties of the life-support of the Holy Spirit are available to the whole humanity so that

no one will lack any help of God. The risen Christ is able to open doors to remove

obstacles of faith so are we willing to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit he offers?

Let us invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit with the following sequence:

S E Q U E N C E

1. Holy Spirit, Lord divine,

Come, from heights of heav’n and shine,

Come with blessed radiance bright!

2. Come, O Father of the poor,

Come, whose treasured gifts ensure,

Come, our heart’s unfailing light!

3. Of consolers, wisest, best,

And our soul’s most welcome guest,

Sweet refreshment, sweet repose.

4. In our labour rest most sweet,

Pleasant coolness in the heat,

Consolation in our woes.

5. Light most blessed, shine with grace

 

In our heart’s most secret place,

Fill your faithful through and through.

6. Left without your presence here,

Life itself would disappear,

Nothing thrives apart from you!

7. Cleanse our soiled hearts of sin,

Arid souls refresh within,

Wounded lives to health restore.

8. Bend the stubborn heart and will,

Melt the frozen, warm the chill,

Guide the wayward home once more!

9. On the faithful who are true

And profess their faith in you,

In your sev’nfold gift descend!

10. Give us virtue’s sure reward,

Give us your salvation, Lord,

Give us joys that never end!