May 24, 2015
1st Reading: Acts 2:1–11
2nd Reading: 1 Cor 12:3b–7, 12–13 (or Gal 5:16–25)
Gospel: Jn 15:26–27; 16:12–15 (or Jn 20:19–23)
On the evening of that day, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews, but Jesus came and stood in their midst. He said to them, “Peace be with you”; then he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.
Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” After saying this he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit; for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
On Pentecost Sunday today, we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pentecost comes from the Greek ‘Pentekoste’, meaning the 50th day. It used to be an Israelite-Jewish festival that had reference to agriculture but was later celebrated by the Jews as the anniversary of the giving of the law to Moses. It was on the day of this celebration that the Holy Spirit came down upon Mary and the Apostles.
Luke makes Pentecost the birthday of the universal church. It has acquired such richness of meaning on account of the event recounted in our first reading today (Acts 2:1-11) where the Holy Spirit poured itself upon Mary and the Apostles. Through this outpouring they were empowered to preach to different kinds of people regardless of language. The Church was thus born with a mission to evangelize the world regardless of culture and language. In this account from our First Reading, the Apostles were speaking in their own language yet the listeners understood them according to their native tongue. There is possibly an implicit allusion to the story of the tower of Babel in which mankind was divided by the diversity of languages. The lost unity was restored in the preaching of the Apostles. Restoration of unity continues today in the ministry of the Church.
With the power to preach also came the power to forgive. After saying “Peace be with you”, Jesus breathed on the Apostles saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit; for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” The power derived by the Church from the Holy Spirit is first and foremost exercised in her power to forgive sins and so restore unity in the Body of Christ. Through the restoration of unity, genuine peace is achieved.
This empowerment by the Holy Spirit enables the Church to stand up to the power of evil in society today. We know how the Church is threatened in this millennium by DEATH (Divorce, Euthanasia, Abortion, Total population control through contraception, and Homosexual union). The Church is not as powerless as the enemies think. She had had several persecutions and the past but has survived until today. The Holy Spirit remains the leading power behind the Church for all generations.
As we celebrate the birthday of the Church today, let us renew our commitment to our baptismal promises and thank God for having called us into this Church. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.frdan.org.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: Send forth your Holy Spirit, O God, that the face of the earth be renewed. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: St. SIMEON STYLITE, the younger. He was born in Antioch, Turkey in 521 and he was only five years old when his father died. He went to a neighboring hill country where he started to be under the care of John. Both Simeon and John were Stylites; they lived on the platforms to ensure a solitary life. After ten years he established a monastery where he lived for the last 45 years of his life.