Friday, May 29, 2009

Solemnity of the Pentecost

"Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth!"

These words from the Responsorial Psalm eloquently capture the atmosphere of joy and thanksgiving that characterizes our gathering today. It is the Solemnity of Pentecost, or the descent of the Holy Spirit upon God's People. On this day, we also commemorate the birth of the Church because this very occasion signalled the spreading of the Gospel of Christ among the nations under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost opened a new dimension in the life of the Church. With the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles who were assembled with the Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the era of the Church began. The Holy Spirit brought together all humanity and formed them into one body, the Mystical Body of Christ. Likewise, the same Spirit became the guiding principle of the Church into all truth and unity in communion and in service. And through the centuries, the Church continues to exist and journey by the power of the Holy Spirit which bestows different gifts or "charisms" on each and every member of the Church in order to perpetuate the mission entrusted to her by Jesus Christ.

Moreover, Pentecost is also a time of commissioning. Jesus Christ sent by the Father was anointed by the Spirit and fulfilled His mission. But as He returned to the Father He entrusted His disciples with His own mission to continue. So, the disciples too received the Holy Spirit so that they could discharge their mission as Jesus did. Hence, this feast of Pentecost reminds us anew of our apostolic mission to proclaim the Good News of Salvation in words and in deeds. Eventually, this must lead us to the realization of the continual presence of the Holy Spirit not only in the Church but also in each and every one of us, as Christians and as members of the Church. We all know that the Holy Spirit was infused in all of us when we were baptized and especially when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation. This is the reason why we consider the reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation as our personal pentecost.

Today, therefore, as we commemorate the day of Pentecost, we need to recall and renew the graces that come to us that moment when we received the Holy Spirit, graces which we perhaps long forgotten, graces which we have not used, and graces which we need today in our disunited and turbulent times.

"Receive the Holy Spirit!" Today, Jesus re-echoes his words to all of us. He offers us the Life-giving Spirit, who is the manifestation of the love between the Father and the Son. And this same Holy Spirit impels each and every one of us to manifest also our love through our sharing in the mission of the Church and our sharing in the communion which is inherent to the life of the Church.

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