May 19, 2024
Lectionary Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Ps.104; 1Cor.12:3b-7.12-13. (Gal. 5:16-25); John 20:19-23. (Jn.15:26-27. 16:12-15)
Theme: They were All filled with the Holy Spirit

On the fiftieth day after Easter we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the feast on which the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus was given. It is the moment when the first disciples were enlivened by the Holy Spirit with such enthusiasm that they were motivated to go to the farthest ends of the earth to preach the good news. We should note that the word ‘enthusiasm’ comes from the Greek, ‘en theos’ meaning “God within!” Each person was filled with the Spirit of God.
The pilgrim, Egeria, attests that this feast was celebrated in Jerusalem in the 4th century stressing the theme of renewal and transformation that the coming of the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of men and women. Pentecost has its very roots in the festival of Shavuot, the agricultural festival celebrating God’s providential care and the thanksgiving offering of the first fruits of the spring harvest. Later, this festival was connected with the revelation of God in the giving of the Torah to Moses. For Christians today, it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which makes us witnesses of God’s action in our lives. If Jesus said that it is best for him to leave, then there is something valuable about what the Holy Spirit will do.
It’s an amazing story of how the Holy Spirit came upon these fearful apostles gathered together. They had been traumatized by Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Even the resurrection left them overwhelmed. In these very difficult and confusing times, they tried to understand how to fathom such events. So it was on Pentecost that physically they heard the rush of a wind and saw tongues of fire above each one’s head. People from all nations heard the apostles speaking in their own language. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own language?” (Acts 2:7)
When Jesus spoke earlier with his apostles as we read in John’s Gospel, he ‘breathed on them’ (Jn.20:22) which reminds us of God’s action in Genesis 2:7 when God first created humanity with an infusion of divine life. “This connection to the first creation is reconfirmed in Ezekiel 37:9-10 and Wisdom 15:11 and speaks to the power of the Holy Spirit in the transformation of individual Christians.” (Mueggenborg, 126) The Spirit inspires, enables and transforms individual lives and is truly God’s seal on the people. The major work of the Spirit is to transform our lives to look more like Christ’s life,
Jesus was faithful to his promise, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you. This is the Spirit of truth…..and he will be in you.” (Jn.14:16-17) Jesus was sent to make known his Father to us. In each of Jesus’ actions, he revealed the compassion, understanding and mercy of God. Jesus interacted with people from all walks of life understanding their struggles and complexities. Everything he said and did revealed God’s desire to connect with humanity.
St. Paul declares, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same spirit and there are varieties of services but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.” (1Cor.12:4-6) The sharing of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit enriches the Church and are referred to as the first fruits of the Spirit – joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22)
The former Archbishop of El Salvador, St. Oscar Romero once proclaimed, “It will always be Pentecost in the Church provided the Church lets the beauty of the Holy Spirit shine forth from her countenance.” (Vatican News, 2018) In a climate of violence and persecution, this man of faith heard and lived the challenge of the Gospel. He is referred to as the first martyr of the Second Vatican Council.

Reflection: 1. Do I have a sense of the Holy Spirit in my daily life? Do I see the Holy Spirit as enabling me to live a more faith-filled life? 2. Are the gifts of the Spirit evident in my life?
Bibliography: Mueggenborg, D.H., “Discipleship Reflections on Sunday Gospel Readings”, (England, 2016.) The Vatican News, (17 May, 2018)
This week’s Commentary was prepared by
Rita Kammermayer, Canada, Bat Kol Alumna: 2001


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