12 Jun – Pentecost Sunday
The Day of Pentecost
Today we celebrate the great day of Pentecost when Christ filled the Curch with the power of his Spirit and sent it out into the world to bring his peace, joy and forgiveness to all mankind.
– The Sunday Missal
Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11
When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.
Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’
1 Corinthians 12:3-7.12-13
No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
If you take away their breath, the perish and return to dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth
It’s amazing how easy it is for us to take the simplest things in life for granted – such as breathing. It’s an instinctive, subconscious activity that we don’t even need to put our heart and mind into. Yet, it’s so important that the moment we stop doing it, we die.
When I was much younger, I used to think that if I’m still alive and breathing the next morning, it means that God is not done with me yet – there must a purpose or a reason why he still wants me around. Otherwise, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have been taken into heaven or purgatory (being the eternal optimist then, I believed that my simple faith in Christ would have saved me from the blazing inferno called hell). Now that I’m much older, albeit more weary and jaded, I still think there must be a reason why I’m still around. And it’s probably to learn a lesson I haven’t fully grasped yet.
Just like breathing, I’ve often taken the Holy Spirit for granted. Subconsciously, I am aware that he’s there (somewhere) within me but, like most people, I tend to compartmentalise. I force him into a little box called “Emergencies Only” and I look for him only as a last resort – when I’m at my wits’ end and nothing else is working. After all, if it’s within my capabilities to solve it, why should I ask someone else for help? The little fires and medium flames, I can handle. I’ll only hand the impossible stuff to you, God.
Like every child who eventually grows up, I believe we’ve grown to cling to our independence and we’re accustomed to living independently, even independently from God.
However, today’s Feast of Pentecost reminds us that God has blessed us with a precious gift and one which Christ had sacrificed his life for. I’m not simply talking about forgiveness – but about salvation. Salvation doesn’t just mean being washed clean. It means being empowered, not just forgiven. It means having God’s Spirit within us, alive in us – God himself – unrestricted by human form. Now, that’s something to rave about. What people thirsted for and could only imagine in the past, has become possible now, for us.
The proof of God’s parenthood over us is the gift of his Holy Spirit within us. All of us who are children of God by virtue of our faith, have his Spirit within us, regardless of whether we are aware of it. This means that we have intimate and unlimited, direct access to God himself. It’s like having a “Wi-Fi” connection made available to us all the time, regardless of when we access it.
Sometimes, God also sends us an instant message from time to time, to let us know what He’s thinking. It may take the form of a gentle prompting in our hearts or at the back of our minds. In some urgent cases, it may even take the form of constant “nagging”, either in our hearts and minds or through the voices of others. I’ve learnt to realise that it’s God shaping us through his Spirit when these instances happen.
As independent or rebellious as we may be, there is no escaping the fact that we are God’s children, regardless of where we may be in our faith currently. His Spirit is his means of communicating with us and possibly even through us, to those in need of Him. He knows that it’s tough being his children sometimes and we need constant refreshing. Given the essential nature of the Spirit in our lives, wouldn’t we want to engage the Spirit even more?
With every breath that we take, let’s engage the Holy Spirit more and more daily.
When we’re lost for words to say, sweet Spirit prompt our hearts and inspire our tongues; when we feel overwhelmed by the demands of daily life, give us rest and grant us your wisdom; when we’re taunted by our failures, give us the courage to cling onto God’s grace and strive on; when we’re reluctant to step out of our comfort zones, grant us boldness and strength; and when we feel all alone in this world, send us comfort and fill us with the your peace and your presence.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: We pray for a keen awareness of the Holy Spirit and sensitivity to God’s promptings in our lives.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for every single breath and for every waking moment.
Mon, 13 Jun – 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; Matthew 5:38-42; Memorial for St Anthony of Padua, Priest & Doctor of the Church
Tue, 14 Jun – 2 Corinthians 8:1-9; Matthew 5:43-48
Wed, 15 Jun – 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; Matthew 6:1-6; Matthew 6:1-6.16-18
Thu, 16 Jun – 2 Corinthians 11:1-11; Matthew 6:7-15
Fri, 17 Jun – 2 Corinthians 11:18.21-30; Matthew 6:19-23
Sat, 18 Jun – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Matthew 6:24-34
Sun, 19 Jun – Exodus 34:4-6.8-9; 3 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18; Trinity Sunday