This Sunday, the Christian world celebrates the Solemnity of Pentecost. We remember on this day how the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles locked in the upper room in Jerusalem, accompanied with a mighty display of Divine power – with tongues of fire, a strong wind, and the ability to speak in different languages. In doing so, Jesus fulfilled his promise never to leave them as orphans but to send another Advocate who will be with them forever.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is not limited to the apostles in that particular time and place. God has been offering his Holy Spirit – the third Person of the Trinity – to every man and woman in any nation and of all generations since that gracious event in salvation history. By our faith in Jesus – signified by the reception of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in my church, or by the profession of mind, heart, or mouth in other churches – we receive the Holy Spirit as the indwelling presence of God.
God’s indwelling presence is not a small matter, but is, in fact, what matters most in our lives as believers. It means the Mighty God of heaven and earth humbling himself to live, not only with us or beside us, but in us – yes, inside us. St. Paul rightly tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are temples of God’s Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit dwelt on the apostles, they began to overcome their fears in preaching the crucified and resurrected Christ. They went out of that locked room and started spreading the good news unto the ends of the earth. The same Spirit emboldens us today to bear witness to the love of God among our fellowmen, not necessarily in extraordinary conditions as experienced by the first Christians but even in the ordinary situations of everyday life.
When the Holy Spirit dwelt on the apostles, they began to think of the common good, setting aside differences in race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic status, political affiliations, or even trivial beliefs. The same Spirit directs us today to promote unity in the Church, regardless of minor differences in non-core doctrines and practices. As was once popularly said, “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” The same Spirit who gave the first Christians gifts or charisms for service empowers us today to serve in various capacities, for we are parts of the same Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-27; Eph 4:1-16).
By his Spirit, God provides us a foretaste of the better things to come after our lives on earth. Again, St. Paul writes:
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee (2 Cor 5:1-5).
This Pentecost, let us be mindful of the living God reigning in us. Let us not quench the Spirit but allow him to work miracles and wonders in our lives.
Happy Pentecost Sunday to one and all.