“AND when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a violent wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as of fire, which settled upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign tongues, even as the Holy Spirit prompted them to speak” (Acts 2, 1-4).
It is an honor to once again address you, dear readers, as we come close to the observance of the Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter when the Holy Spirit came and descended upon the forefathers of our faith. It is this blessed occasion that gave birth to the history driving towards the Church we now know today.
In this period of seemingly unending troubles -- with an end to the Covid-19 pandemic and all the sorrows it brings us still nowhere in sight -- the celebration of such beginnings can be quite comforting. We are reminded that we, as a Church community, are not only contained in this dark period of sickness and crisis but are part of a much longer journey and that the wind that came and swept through the gathering place of the apostles and disciples continues to keep the flames of our faith ablaze.
I hope, dear readers, that we can continue to reflect and be encouraged by meaningful occasions like these. We are reminded to persevere in living the teachings of the Church, just as the believers of Christ did when they were filled by the Holy Spirit and began proclaiming the good news of salvation and redemption. This would be easier said than done today, of course, but the struggles we face - social, economic, environmental, health, and others - are all the more reasons to strive in living a life of service to our Lord and His people.
The opportunities to do so are never scarce. As a concrete example, I bring attention to the ongoing efforts in an issue that is close to my heart and is at the heart of the identity of our beloved Negros island as a clear manifestation of the beauty of God’s creation. As I have shared with you time and time again, I am part of a thriving movement for clean energy in Negros, both in terms of what our island produces and consumes.
We have learned that just three days after Pentecost Sunday, one of our province’s largest electricity distributors -- Ceneco -- would find itself an opportunity for a new beginning, with the expiration of a power supply contract from coal. Coal, as we know, is the dirtiest fossil fuel, and Ceneco in the past several years has been contracting a power plant in Cebu, built by Kepco, to supply many of our people’s electricity needs. This came at the cost of extreme pollution for Cebuanos in Naga City, whose daily reality was marred by pollution and ash from the operation of the coal-fired power plant. Today, consumers and clean energy advocates continue to appeal to Ceneco to no longer entertain the use of coal with the new power procurement schemes they intend to take up as the contract ends. The cries of our Earth and of poor and suffering peoples from the destruction caused by coal cannot be denied, and so we must extend admiration and support for those who, by leading the fight against coal, are living our faith and the care of God’s creation.
Brothers and sisters, let us celebrate Pentecost every day by also always being on the lookout for opportunities like such to proclaim and fight for our Father’s purposes. Over two thousand years ago, the apostles and disciples of our dear Christ were joined together in fervent prayer. The walls of the room enclosing them did nothing to keep them from receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. Much like the members of the First Church, we are contained today within walls, though for altogether different reasons. Yet, the gift of the Holy Spirit - what a gift it is! - continues to course through us today. In the same way that the Lord gathered believers from all walks of life to proclaim the good news to people of all tongues and nations, may the Holy Spirit keep us as bearers of faith and love for all for the next two thousand and more years.