Pentecost Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: Let us be open to the grace bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth, Strength and Sanctification.
While Jesus was on earth, he left us many teachings. Before Jesus departed, he promised to send us a paraclete, that is, an advocate or an assistant. He promised that the paraclete the Holy Spirit will teach us everything, and remind us of all that Jesus has taught us (verse 26). The Spirit helps us understand Jesus’ teachings more deeply; and reveals to us new truths in the teachings. Over the centuries, the Holy Spirit has revealed many truths to us, e.g. the Trinitarian nature of God; Jesus being fully God and fully Man – truths that are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible but are today universally accepted by all Christians – Catholics and Protestants alike.
The First Reading recalled how it all began – the First Pentecost. The disciples, afraid of persecution by the Jews, hid in the room. Then, the Holy Spirit descended. Upon the Holy Spirit descending upon them, the disciples were transformed. Instead of feeling afraid, they boldly stepped outside to proclaim God. Our Church was born on that Pentecost Day. That the Spirit descended as a rush of violent wind (verse 2) is significant, especially to a Jewish person. In the Jewish language, the word for wind is ruah, which also means spirit. A Jewish reader, aware of Jesus’ promise of the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17), on reading this would immediately realise that Christ’ promise was being fulfilled.
This story of Pentecost exemplifies a key role of the Holy Spirit, that is, to strengthen the followers of Christ and form them into the Church, the body of Christ. In the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), all people spoke one language. Their pride drove them to build a tower that was to reach the heaven to rival God. As a punishment, God scattered them all over the world and made them speak different languages. Hence, sin brought division upon the world. The damage humankind sustained at the Tower of Babel was repaired on Pentecost Day. At Pentecost, upon the descend of the Holy Spirit, people “from every nation under heaven” (verse 5) understood the Apostles in each “own native language” (verse 8). Hence, what sin divided at the Tower of Babel, the Holy Spirit reunited at Pentecost. The fact that the Apostles proclaimed the Good News to all nations (verse 5) reveals to us another important fact: that salvation is universal, the Good news is to be proclaimed to all nations.
The Second Reading urges us to abandon the way of the flesh and live according to Spirit. If we live according to the flesh, we subject ourselves to the limitations of the flesh – pride, prejudice, lust and other concupiscence. Like the people at the Tower of Babel, living accordance to the flesh can only lead to destruction (verse 13). Brothers and sisters, do you know that we are made in the image of God not just in appearance? God resides in us as the Person of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that came upon the disciples on Pentecost Day. Our living body is in fact the tabernacle of God the Spirit. By living according to the Spirit, such living brings us everlasting life, for “the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (verse 10) And as surely as the Spirit dwells in Christ and raised him from the dead, the Spirit dwells in us and will one day raise us from the dead. And the one thing that will cause the Holy Spirit to leave our bodies is when we commit mortal sins. A body tainted by mortal sins is no longer in a state of grace to host the Holy Spirit. To restore the state of grace, to welcome the Spirit into us once more, we need to be purged of our sins and be reconciled to God. Such is the grace bestowed upon us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Let us pray to the Holy Spirit, that He may continue to guide, protect and teach us the Church, and for all times to come. Alleluia!