June 8, 2014
Today’s readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1-34; 1 Corinthians 12:3-13; John 20:19-23
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When he was born, the heavenly host burst out with praise and proclaimed peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests. In a world wracked by war, hatred and disunity, only Jesus can bring peace. He achieved this through the cross. Now he had finished his task on earth. He had won salvation on the cross. Now he was going back to heaven. He appeared to his disciples and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (Jn 20:21).
The Father sent Jesus, now Jesus sends us. We are to continue his divine work, that of bringing salvation into the lives of people. Since this is divine work, we can only do it by the grace of God and by the power of Jesus’ Spirit. And so Jesus “breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit.’” (Jn 20:22). Jesus poured out his spirit upon the disciples. He sent the Holy Spirit.
What is the task of the Holy Spirit? “Send forth your spirit, they are created and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 104:30). At the start of creation, on the earth darkness hovered over the abyss. God created all things. When God created man, He blew into his nostrils the breath of life. By breathing on his disciples and giving them his Spirit, Jesus “re-created” humanity, once lost in darkness and sin, now back in his light and returned to his Kingdom. And just as the Father had sent him, now Jesus sends his disciples. Their work is to help bring creation, especially humanity, back into God’s embrace.
Having given his Spirit to the Twelve, now Jesus gives his Spirit to the 120 in the upper room. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire, with noise like a strong driving wind (Acts 2:2-3). “And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:4). They were speaking “of the mighty acts of God.” (Acts 2:11b).
The “devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem …. heard them speaking in his own language.” (Acts 2:5-6). Tongues signaled the worldwide mission of the Church, and the unity that would come from the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Paul says, “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.” (1 Cor 12:12-13). One Spirit, one Christ, one body. With unity would come peace.
On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit manifested himself through tongues. But there are other spiritual gifts, for different forms of service, different workings produced by the same God in everyone (1 Cor 12:4-6). Aside from tongues, the Holy Spirit imparts wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits and interpretation of tongues (1 Cor 12:8-10). The one Spirit distributes these to each person (1 Cor 12:11) in order to build a community in unity and peace, and to use that empowered community to witness to Jesus as it does the work of evangelization.
This is the importance of Pentecost for us today. We celebrate it as the birth of the Church. But it is also the foundation, methodology or formula for doing rapid, massive and worldwide evangelization. Onward to the New Evangelization!
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God bless you all.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)
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