[Pentecost, Year B, May 24, 2015 / Acts 2:1-11 / Ps 104:1+24, 29-30, 31+34 / 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 / John 20:19-23]
DO you like gifts? Today is the coming of the great gift promised by Jesus, the Holy Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit, come! Renew the face of the earth.
How much our world of today needs renewal. Lord, send forth your Spirit.
Today the Church celebrates the great feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles of the early Church – this divine fire that changed everything. Before, the apostles were timid, they had run away from the cross and denied Jesus. But after the coming of the Holy Spirit they were full of boldness, proclaiming the mighty works of God in the middle of persecutions.
What happened? They received the Helper, the Divine Consoler, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. We too need His presence to change our lives so we do not get tired to ask, “Maranatha! Come Holy Spirit!”
One beautiful thing about this gift of the Holy Spirit is that it really is a gift, it is unmerited. The disciples had not really done anything to deserve it. They had abandoned Jesus in his hour of need yet in the Gospel today we see Jesus returning among them, not to denounce them but to announce to them “Peace be with you!” He says it twice and shows them his hands and feet with their wounds. “Peace be with you because I have overcome the world.”
It is the first day of the week, the first day of the new creation. Who will make all things new? The Holy Spirit! “‘As the Father sent me, so I send you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” What a beautiful gesture: to breathe on them. They receive the breath of life, the divine breath, the Spirit of the Lord. This breath that once blew over the chaos of creation bringing order, this Spirit of life that was breathed into the clay of lifeless man to animate him and bring him to life (Genesis 2:7). This “kiss of life” to bring the disciples back from the dead.
As anyone who has done a First Aid course will know, the “kiss of life” is a way to resuscitate someone who has stopped breathing. This technique, also called “mouth to mouth,” is when air is blown into a person to revive him. Jesus breathes on his disciples, giving them the kiss of life, the kiss of divine life.
Jesus wants to send the disciples into the mission in the same way as he was sent – “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” How were you sent Lord? With a kiss! The Church Fathers called the Holy Spirit “the kiss between the Father and the Son.” How reassuring to be sent with a kiss.
When I was a schoolboy I was not allowed to leave my house without first getting a kiss from my mum. She would send me off with a kiss. God wants to send us into the mission with a kiss. Where do we get this divine kiss? In prayer of course.
I remember the letters of my grandmother. She would write to me and on the back of the envelope she would put S.W.A.L.K. I asked what this meant. Sealed With A Loving Kiss! How nice to receive news sealed with a loving kiss.
Every time we pray with the Scripture we are receiving Good News sealed with a kiss, the kiss of our loving Father in heaven who in the Word of God runs out to meet us, to embrace us and to kiss us (cf.Dei Verbum no. 21). To be sent into the mission with this kiss of love. To feel loved when we go to the mission. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has sent me to proclaim the Good News of his love. Each moment of prayer is to receive the love to be equipped for the mission. Of course, after receiving all this love we will run to the mission! This is why prayer is the motor of the mission.
As Jaime Bonet, the founder of Verbum Dei states, “a truly apostolic life is an abundantly contemplative life.” In prayer we receive the Spirit, this Spirit who as Pope John Paul II reminded us is “the principal agent of the mission.”
So of course after receiving the Spirit the apostles ran to the mission overflowing with love! Each one ready to do battle, enriched with the gifts of the Spirit – joy, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Which gift do you most need in your life? Ask, and you will receive. “There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose” (1 Corinthans 12:4-7).
All the gifts of the Spirit are for a good purpose, to build up the Church, the Body of Christ. Today our world needs to receive the Spirit, to receive the Divine breath of life, to transform, to put order where there is chaos and to animate all of us Christians to work and serve for the good of others.
Happy Feast of Pentecost to all of you!