Pentecost Sunday

First reading: Acts 2:1–11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

Second reading: 1 Cor. 12:3b–7,12–13

Brothers and sisters: No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Gospel: Jn. 15:26–27, 16:12–15

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

In other words

by Fr. Bubi Scholz, SVD (St. Michaels Mother House, Steyl, Netherlands)

On November 22, 1963, one Manila newspaper printed only two words in huge letters on its front page: “Kennedy killed.” Such news deserved the biggest publicity possible. Indeed, huge billboards and loud noise seem standard for what is important. However, not everything important comes with huge streamers and loud noise. Many truly important things come to us rather quietly, e.g., an inner inspiration, or advice from a close friend.

Bringing something important and precious, but quietly, is what the Holy Spirit does. Today’s Feast of Pentecost reminds us of the Holy Spirit. Although his first manifestation, described in the First Reading, was accompanied by a rushing wind (but not a howling typhoon) his standard operating procedure is “whispering” his advice into our inner ear. In fact, we might miss what he wants to say. But failing to pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s voice and action would be sad, for we need him so badly. We are surrounded by so many voices urging us in different directions, including evil! Often we feel lost, not knowing where to go, or what to do. Often we feel too weak to reject what is evil and do what is good or courageously face problems.

In those moments, the Holy Spirit comes to our help. Jesus calls him “Helper” (Paraclete in Greek). He helps quietly but effectively. First, he enables us to know what is good, because, as Jesus says, he teaches and guides us to all that is true and good. Second, he gives us strength to stand up against what is bad, for he is the advocate, our defense lawyer. Third, he enables us to persevere in doing what is good. Fourth, he lifts us up when we are down because he is the consoler or comforter. Pentecost is a wake-up call: “Listen to the Spirit! Act with and in the Holy Spirit!”

That the Holy Spirit helps us is illustrated by a statue of Pope St. Gregory the Great. He is seated, with a dove on his right shoulder which seems to pick at Gregory’s ear, as if whispering something into it. The dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The statue suggests that it was the Holy Spirit who made Pope Gregory a wise teacher, an excellent counselor, and a courageous organizer. The Holy Spirit does wonderful things also in us. Today and frequently we ask him “that we, led by your guidance still, may safely pass through every ill.” Amen.

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