Happy Pentecost to all of you!
The season of Easter concludes with today’s celebration, the feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today’s first reading. The account in today’s Gospel, John 20:19-23, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples. Yet the event in John’s Gospel takes place on Easter Sunday. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts. It is important for us to know that after His death, Jesus fulfilled His promise to send to His disciples a helper, an Advocate, who would enable them to be His witnesses throughout the world.
In the context of the feast of Pentecost, John 20:19-23 reminds us about the integral connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness and the action of the Holy Spirit. Jesus greets His disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions His disciples to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathes the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and sends them to continue His work of reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ act of breathing the Holy Spirit upon the apostles mirrors God’s act of breathing life into Adam. In fact, both the Greek and Hebrew words for “spirit” can also be translated as “breath.” This Gospel reminds us that the Church is called to be a reconciling presence in the world. The reconciling presence of Christ is celebrated in the Church’s sacramental life. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we are cleansed of sin and become a new creation in Christ. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Church celebrates the mercy of God through the forgiveness of sins. This reconciling presence is also to be a way of life for Christians. In situations of conflict, we are to be agents of peace and harmony among people.
But today we are supposed to experience our own personal Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes upon every one of us to strengthen us and enable us to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel and to share His wonderful message of God’s love with others. Just as Mary and the apostles, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we are the Church. Jesus promised that He would not leave us alone, but would send the Holy Spirit to be with us always. That same Holy Spirit that came upon the apostles, continues to be with us, His Church and will not allow the Church to fail or falter, because it is Christ’s Church. But the same Holy Spirit also calls each of us to live out the Gospel in our daily lives and gives us the strength to change those things we see that are wrong. We are called to speak out and bear witness to the Truth. As we are reopening the churches during His time, we, as a Church, need to continue to open the doors and windows in our souls and to allow the Holy Spirit to move and refresh His Church, to refresh us.
We can all take comfort in the words of Jesus, “Peace be with you! Receive the Holy Spirit. Be not afraid, I am with you always.”
P.S. On Wednesday, May 26th, Bp. Gerald Battersby will administer the sacrament of confirmation for 8 young people from our parish. Please pray for them that the whole formation process and especially the moment of their confirmation would begin for them joyful and fascinating relationship with Jesus and His Church.
- As you already have realized, we have been moving to another faze of relaxing the COVID liturgical protocols. Please read The Archbishop’s letter, be aware of the changes and with concern for the common good, welcome everyone with love especially the vulnerable among us. May St. Genevieve – St. Maurice Church where we come to pray, continue to be our home where we feel welcome and safe, where we accept everyone we meet here, as we are accepted and loved by God.