Pentecost, Year B
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 (32)
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
May 23, 2021
Fifty days ago we celebrated Easter. Easter is the most important day of the year (Christmas is #2).
Today, we celebrate the third most important day of the year, Pentecost. On this day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the first disciples.
Easter begins our Easter Season, a season in which we especially focus on the Resurrection. Pentecost brings the Easter Season to a close. Like so many other days on our liturgical calendar, the date is not randomly picked.
We see this in the very first line of todays’ first reading, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled.” This was the day chosen by God.
The first Easter occurred at the time when Jews were celebrating the Passover. The first Christian Pentecost fell at the time of the Jewish Pentecost.
The word “Pentecost” means fifty days. The Jews celebrated their own Pentecost (Sukkot), fifty days after the Passover. It was an important feast for them but not about the Holy Spirit. For us as Christians, Pentecost is the reception of the Holy Spirit.
How did the Holy Spirit arrive? As a strong driving wind. With the wind, think of how God breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7). The Holy Spirit renews life within us.
The Holy Spirit was seen as coming down upon the disciples as “tongues of fire.” Remember how God appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-6).
Why “tongues”? Tongues is a term we sometimes used to describe how we speak (what language). Coming down as tongues of fire, the Holy Spirit opened communication between the nations.
Do you remember the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9)? Until then, the whole world spoke the same language. The people tried to make themselves great by building a tower to the top of the sky. For their pride, God confused their language so they could not understand one another. What sin lead to, the Holy Spirit changed, renewing the people to be able to understand one another.
When you are trying to talk to another person about our Catholic faith, do you ever feel like you are speaking different languages because you don’t understand one another?
The Holy Spirit came with the gift of tongues not to lead us to speak in non-understandable sounds but to no longer be hindered by different languages to speak “of the mighty acts of God.”
As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit empowers us to speak of Jesus.
Why did Jesus breathe the Holy Spirit on his disciples?
The Lord sends out his Spirit to renew the face of the earth.
We receive the fruits of the Holy Spirit, fruits like “peace.” It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the grace to see past the sufferings in this world to know the peace of God.
It is the Holy Spirit who gives us “different kinds of spiritual gifts…different forms of service…different works.” No single person is given all the gifts. We are not given these gifts simply to suit our own needs.
We are given the Holy Spirit to unite us. Next week we will celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a perfect unity. The Holy Spirit comes to help us share in the unity that we see between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We are many people but we are one body in Christ. We each have different gifts but when we work together as one body, the sum of our different gifts, our different forms of service are multiplied by the Holy Spirit.
Paul uses the analogy of our bodies. Our bodies have many parts that serve different functions. The hands do not serve the same function as the feet. The eyes do not serve the same function as the ears.
Yet, they work together. For instance, we use our feet for walking but when we come to a door, we need our hands to open the door.
We see where we are going with our eyes but sounds, like a siren, help alert us to what is going on around us.
No one individual is given all the gifts. For instance, I do not have the gift of music. I don’t need to. That’s why we have musicians. They do not have the gift of preaching. That is for me to do.
So, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us to bring our gifts together, that we may be the Church that God calls us to be.