June 8, 2014
Dear Friends, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, we celebrate the birthday of the Church, our birthday as the living stones of Christ’s Church. By virtue of our Baptism we share in the same faith, the same Lord and Saviour, the same God and Father, and we drink from the same Spirit.
In Pentecost, we remember that the Holy Spirit came upon the fearful disciples, making them strong to go out and preach the Good News. Therefore, Pentecost marks the beginning of Christ’s Church because from that day on the gospel of the Lord has been made known to all the nations and cultures of the world. The Church is not the clergy: pope, bishops, priests, deacons or religious men and women, but all the baptized. The Church is made visible when you and I gather in the name of the Lord. The church is the Christian community who gathers to listen to the Word of God, and to break and share the bread of life.
The first group of disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day; in the same way, you and I received the gift of the Holy Spirit on our Baptism and Confirmation days. The Holy Spirit was given to us for the common good, to build the Christian community, to bring about the Kingdom of God, and to work for justice and peace in our society. Today’s readings are full of symbolism; I would like to reflect on those symbols:
New Creation: At creation there was a mighty wind sweeping over the waters. And when God created the first man and woman from the clay of the earth, he breathed into their nostrils the breath of life. At Pentecost there was a strong driving wind suggesting the presence and the power of God. And the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, giving them a new breath of life. They became a new creation made in the Spirit of Christ.
New Language: The fearful Apostles, filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit, went out to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord in different languages of the known world. Luke describes tongues of fire resting over those in the house. Tongues because they will preach the Word, fire because it is a gift from God. The Apostles spoke in different languages; this means there are no barriers of language and culture when the subject is the Word of God.
Spiritual Gifts: Paul says, though there are many gifts, they all come from God. Each one of us has gifts because the Spirit is within us. Your gift and mine is for the service of the community.
The one body of Christ: The risen Christ has united all Christians to himself in Baptism. Even though we have different gifts, we are joined to one another in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are for one another, not against one another. Although unity in diversity is a challenge to Christ’s Church, we strive to accomplish it.
New Appearance: After Jesus’s death his disciples fled and secured themselves behind locked doors because of their fear of the authorities. In the midst of their fear and desperation, and in spite of the locked doors, Jesus appeared among them with a greeting of peace. Then, he showed them his hands and side.
The Joy: The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Their Lord is alive in a new and different manner. They saw the Lord! That is a new reality with the power to overcome fear. That is why the disciples rejoice.
A Commission: Jesus reconfirms his gift of peace to the disciples and immediately commissions them as Apostles and heralds of the gospel. As the Father has sent Jesus into the world, now Jesus sends forth his disciples. The disciples will continue the work of Jesus on earth. They will carry on Jesus’s ministry throughout history until today. You and I are disciples of the risen Lord; it is our baptismal responsibility to preach and witness the Gospel among our brothers and sisters, here and now.
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