Based on Acts 2:1–11, 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13, Jn 20:19-23

Watching, waiting and praying. The apostles are huddled together in the upper room in Jerusalem.

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.

In the first reading from St. 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 feel different and are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

No longer confused, timid, or full of fear, the apostles immediately go out to proclaim 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 crowds are astonished and amazed.

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 St. John’s Gospel, Jesus says to the Apostles, “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. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” At that very holy and powerful moment, the apostles received the strength and authority they needed to carry on Jesus’ mission. They in turn passed on the power to forgive sins to others in the sacrament of holy orders. 

The Holy Spirit comes not only at the beginning of the church. Pentecost is still happening and the Holy Spirit is with us – in the faith and love others share with us and in the faith and love we share with others. Like the apostles, we, too, are to proclaim the Good News and help Jesus’ church to grow.

In this Sunday’s Mass, we joyfully sing the responsorial psalm of praise, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”