Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on Acts 2: 1-11, 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13, Jn 20:19-23
It is Pentecost – 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection. It marks the end of the Easter season and is celebrated as the birthday of the church. The power and help of the Holy Spirit is the subject of all three readings at Mass, teaching us that the Holy Spirit is the power source and life of the church.
In the first reading from Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, the apostles hear a loud noise as a strong gust of wind fills the room. Little tongues of fire flicker over each of their heads. Just as suddenly, the apostles are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.
No longer confused, timid or full of fear, the apostles immediately go out to share the Good News about Jesus with the people who have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Pentecost (50 days after Passover, commemorating the giving of the Law by God to Moses on Mount Sinai). The apostles are understood by all the people – in every language!
The apostles preach and teach about God’s love, work miracles, forgive sins and baptize in Jesus’ name. Thousands become Jesus’ followers. The new believers are called Christians and are to live by loving and serving God and others.
In the second reading, St. Paul tells us we receive the Holy Spirit at baptism and we are to live our lives using the help and gifts of the Holy Spirit to share with others. Through the sacraments, the Holy Spirit is our lifeline of grace helping us to pray, to understand what we learn about God and our faith and to grow in our love of and service to God and others.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “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, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” At this very holy and powerful moment, the apostles received the strength they needed to carry on Jesus’ mission. The power of that moment is with us today – Pentecost is still happening as the Holy Spirit lives within our hearts to help us share the Good News and to love one another. Like the apostles, we, too, are to carry on Jesus’ mission.