Pentecost Sunday Year C – 16
Acts 2:1-11/ 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13 / John 14:15, 23-26
In today’s feast of Pentecost, the focus is none other than the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit! Most of us recognize a person who has spirit! Most of us recognize a holy person, even if we have met such a person only once in our lives.
Probably many of us would say that we have never had a direct experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives, even if we have been confirmed. Let us look at the readings again to listen to what is being said.
The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, gives an account of the first experience of Christian Pentecost. We can reflect on this experience: a noise like a strong, driving wind; tongues of fire, separated and over each one present; speaking in different languages; hearing in different languages.
We are not given an answer to how many Christians were gathered together or to what their own feelings were about this descent of the Spirit. The focus seems more on the work of God than on the feelings of the people present—although it is clear that there was wonderment.
The second reading is from the First Letter to the Corinthians. This passage wants to remind us that there are many gifts of the Holy Spirit and that such gifts are given for some benefit—not to draw attention to the person with the gifts.
The Gospel of John shows Jesus giving the Spirit to His disciples. This Spirit is to forgive sins—but also to retain sins. This is a complex gifts and immediately makes us aware that the Spirit is not a gentle Spirit but a strong Spirit that draws us to God or tells us that we are not ready to move to God yet!
Each of us needs to reflect on his or her experience of the Spirit. Lots of us never think much about the Spirit in our lives. From the readings today, however, we can see clearly that the Spirit is not something just for ourselves.
No, the Spirit is meant to draw me to serve others, to help others, to pray for others, to forgive others. There are so many ways to do this! That is why there are so many gifts of the Spirit.
This is the day of Pentecost and each of us should ask the Holy Spirit to come into us, into our hearts and minds, to transform us more completely into the image of Jesus Christ. The role of the Spirit is always about Jesus. The Spirit gives us the same message as Jesus. The Spirit deepens our knowledge of Jesus.
Whenever we feel any impulse to know Jesus more or to spend time with Jesus, we can recognize that the Spirit is active in us. When we are drawn to love for the sake of the Gospel, then the Spirit is active in us. When we want to do the right thing in whatever we are doing, that also is the Spirit in us.
We always remember the day of confirmation when we speak about the holy spirit. We remember it because The bishop will be there, relatives and friends will be there, the children/teenagers are all dressed up, many photographs will be taken.
But after that, something strange happens. The children/teenagers seem to go into secret service or they go undercover. Because they don’t seem to be around anymore. It’s like the story about the two Christian pastors and a Catholic priest having a discussion about the problem of birds in their churches.
The first pastor said that he covered up all the holes in the roof of the church but the birds still managed to come in. The second pastor said that he called the pest control company but the problem persisted.
Then they asked the Catholic priest how he handled the problem, and he said, “Oh, I confirmed them, and they never come back.” So, the Sacrament of Confirmation seemed to have a strange effect on Catholic children/teenagers; they seem to disappear after that.
Maybe the name of the Sacrament can be changed to something like “Sacrament of Confirmation and Last Rites”. Yes, we lament that our children/teenagers seem to disappear after Confirmation. For those of us who are concerned enough, we ask what is being done and who should be doing that.
Well, those are not new questions, and yet we also know that we need help in order to help these teenagers after Confirmation. And God knows we need help, not just for the children/teenagers, but in all matters actually. And that help is already given.
In today’s gospel, Jesus said that He will ask the Father to send another Advocate to be with us forever. The word “Advocate” had several meanings. An advocate comes to the defense of another person. An advocate also pleads for and on behalf of another person (as in intercession).
And in the court of law, an advocate defends the cause of another person. So more than just a helper, an advocate pleads the cause of another person. So more than just a helper, an advocate defends us and fights for us and intercedes for us.
The Advocate that Jesus is talking about is none other than the Holy Spirit who will teach us everything and remind us of all that Jesus taught us. But more often than not, the Holy Spirit does not manifest Himself in dramatic and spectacular ways, like we heard in the 1st reading.
Instead, the Holy Spirit seems to be in secret service and He operates undercover. But as the 2nd reading puts it, when we are interested in spiritual things, then the Holy Spirit will make His home in us and reveal to us how He works and how He helps us.
And as the Advocate, the Holy Spirit helps us by inspiring and prompting others to come to our help. In other words, the Holy Spirit engages 3rd party intercessors and 3rd party intervention to manifest His help.
What seems impossible for us will became possible with the help of God. That is what the Holy Spirit, our Advocate can do. So whether it is about disappearing children/teenagers or old-timers, saints or sinners, the Holy Spirit is here to help us.
The Holy Spirit wants to help us become aware of the spiritual things and to make our hearts the home of God. When God makes His home in us, then we will become the instruments of the Holy Spirit, so that others will experience the power of God’s help.
We need to permit the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives: 1) by constantly remembering His holy presence and behaving well;
2) by praying for His daily anointing so that we may fight against our temptations and control our evil tendencies, evil habits and addictions;
3) by asking His daily assistance to pray, listening to God through meditative Bible reading and talking to Him; and
4) by asking the help of the Holy Spirit to do good for others and to be reconciled with God and others every day. And then let us say:
Come, Holy Spirit, put your fire in our hearts. Draw us to love the Lord and to love all others. Amen.