The Solemnity of Pentecost (A); 6-4-17
Acts 2:1-11; Ps 104; 1 Cor 12:;3-7,12-13; Jn 20:19-23
Deacon Jim McFadden; St. John the Baptist C.C.
Pentecost is not, one could safely say, the most beloved of Christian feasts, though it is of utmost importance since it marks the birthday of the Church! Nonetheless, marketers haven’t found a way to make money off of this Solemnity. It has no Halloween drama. There’s no cute little baby in the manger. There is no empty tomb, let alone a bunny which goes around hiding Easter eggs. Except for the liturgical calendar, there is no build-up to Pentecost. When was the last time you saw an ad that said, 50 days to Pentecost—shop early! Also, there’s not even a secular holiday in which we get a long weekend.
Moreover, the event as described in Scripture is, well, a bit strange, if not weird. Tongues of flames are on everybody’s heads. Think of Michael Jackson times 12. People are speaking in languages they don’t even know, yet they understand each other! To quote the immortal words of Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, “Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!” Indeed, the first Pentecost was so bizarre that folks accused the disciples of being drunk. And, Peter’s defense is not all that convincing: in verse 15, he says that they’re not drunk because it’s only 9:00 in the morning, the implication being that they’ll get drunk at a later hour!
No, these are drunk on the Holy Spirit, not wine. It’s the best kind of intoxication that there is because we are receiving the “Lord and giver of life.” The Holy Spirit reminds us that God is triune—that the Holy Spirit, the 3rd person of the Holy Trinity, is divine no less than the Father and the Son.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is the capstone of the awesome mystery that encompasses Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification. It’s the capstone because Jesus announced that the whole purpose of his mission on earth is brought about at Pentecost. On the way to Jerusalem he declared to his disciples, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).
These words came true 50 days after the Resurrection on Pentecost when “There appeared to them tongues as of fire….and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:3-4).
The real fire, the Holy Spirit, was brought to earth by Christ so that we could stay in communion with him since he is no longer physically with us. And, the Holy Spirit empowers us to continue his mission: to bring salvation to the world and to proclaim the Good News. So, that Jesus’ mission may be extended throughout history until the Last Judgment, he says to the Apostles on the evening of his Resurrection: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” These words were expressed as “he breathed on them” (Jn 20:22). Brothers and sisters, it’s not that the Church has a mission but the mission of Christ has a Church, which is the Way that God brings about his plan of salvation in the Risen and Ascended Christ.
By virtue of our baptism, we are not merely called to imitate Jesus. We are challenged to become the Risen Christ—to be the second Coming of Christ. Sounds farfetched? No, it’s not; indeed, it’s downright simple. Jesus Christ has constituted his Church as his Mystical Body. And, who is the Church? We are, the People of God, who were initiated into the Church at baptism. That means that Jesus permeates every member of his Body. That’s what Communion means: to be in Christ…to participate in Trinitarian love!
Do you see what Jesus is doing? He was communicating to us his Spirit—the same Spirit that is the loving energy shared between Him and his Father. God completely gives himself away to us: We are so blessed!
People of God at SJB, the Solemnity of Pentecost reveals that the energy that is capable of transforming the world is not an impersonal, mindless, anonymous, blind force, but the loving action of the “Spirit of God…moving over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Jesus Christ “brought to the earth” not the vital force that was already there, but the Holy Spirit that is the personal, intentional, loving energy of the Triune God, Who “renews the face of the earth,” purifying from evil and selfishness and setting it free from the dominion of death” (Ps 104). Let the Holy Spirit speak to you so that God can work through you to change the face of the earth and bring God alive to all who touch you.