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Power of Pentecost happens today

Based on Acts 2:1-11, 1 Cor 12:3b-7, John 20: 19-23
Triple coverage. All three readings this Sunday are about the power and help of the Holy Spirit.

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 go out to share the Good News about Jesus with the large crowds of 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 and coinciding with the Jewish Feast of Weeks, a festival at which the first fruits of the harvest are offered to God in thanksgiving). Everyone who heard the apostles heard them in their native language – astonishing the crowds.

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. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”

At this very holy and powerful moment, the apostles received the strength and authority they needed to carry on Christ’s mission. That responsibility and authority has been passed down through the sacrament of holy orders. How eager, loving and merciful was Jesus to grant his church the forgiveness of sins that he won by his death on Calvary. That forgiveness is now carried out in the sacrament of confession. The importance of the sacrament is something we should realize.

The power of Pentecost happens today as the Holy Spirit lives within our hearts to help us grow in our faith through prayer and reflection on the Scriptures, through the sacraments and through the preaching and teaching of the church’s bishops and priests.

It is Pentecost – 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection. It is the birthday of the church. The Holy Spirit is now the power source and life of the church. “Come, Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”