“Receive The Holy Spirit”
This is the celebration of Pentecost. For Christians, it commemorates the decent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus. 'Pentecost' is a Greek word meaning 'fiftieth”. In Judaism, the Festival of Weeks (Shavu’ot) was celebrated seven weeks and one day after the Passover. It commemorated the day the first fruits of the harvest were brought to the temple. It also commemorated the day God gave the Torah to the people of Israel. All Jews of age were required to travel to Jerusalem to participate in the celebration. Pentecost Sunday is often referred to as the birthday of the Church - the day when we Christians became Church.
Our first reading (Acts 2:1-11)
tells the story vividly. Ten days after Jesus had been taken up to heaven, the disciples were celebrating the harvest festival of Pentecost. Jerusalem was filled with “devout Jews from every nation under heaven”. “And suddenly, there came from the sky . . . .“
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."
In our Epistle reading (1 Corinthians 12:3, 12-13)
, St. Paul explains the many different spiritual gifts that come from the same Spirit. And yet, there is also one gift of the Holy Spirit common to all Christians—belief that “Jesus is Lord.”
Brothers and sisters: No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Our Gospel reading (John 20:19-23)
is significant in that it is when Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the Apostles and gave them the authority to forgive sins. This Sacrament of Reconciliation is Jesus' gift directly to us. It is the direct action of the Holy Spirit that enables the Father’s love, through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus, to forgive all of our sins.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 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."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
We have been reading in the Acts of the Apostles all during this Easter season of the “Mighty deeds and wonders” performed by the Apostles and new disciples of Christ. We also have heard of their incredible bravery and even joy in the face of terrible persecutions and martyrdom. All of this happened because of the gifts given them by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Could the Holy Spirit, would the Holy Spirit give the same gifts to us? Would we want to accept them? It starts with the conviction that “Jesus is Lord.
- Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday