The Feast of Pentecost by Ilizwi

Sunday, 5 June 2022
Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34
Rom 8:8-17
John 20:19-23

“We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” Jn 20:23

As Catholics we have for a long time suffered from what I call “forgetfulness of the Spirit”. Less and less emphasis has been placed on the Third Person of the Trinity and many evangelicals will say, “Catholics do not have the spirit”. And sadly, some Catholics believe it.

The first reading describes in a dramatic way the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. It describes the promised “baptism by fire”.

Pentecost is a Jewish feast, 50 days after the Sabbath following the Passover. They called it Shavuot, originally, a thankgiving for the harvest, and later a celebration of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, the covenant – remember the Jews arrived on mount Sinai in the 3rd month after leaving Egypt (i.e after Passover).

At the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, there was wind, noise, fire. The same accompanies the giving of the Spirit in the upper room, in the first reading. The Holy Spirit is for Christians the New law. Law which is not written on tablets of stone but in the heart. Jer 31:31-33 ““The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel … I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts…”

The giving of the law on mount Sinai was the foundation of the nation of Israel. The giving of the Spirit on Pentecost day, was the founding day of the Church. Today, is the Church’s birthday. As the spirit was there at creation (Gen 1:2), the spirit is present today as God recreates, creates a new people for himself – the Church.

In this new Church, the first gift of the spirit is the “gift of tongues”. This is not the gift of glossolalia (ecstatic speech as we experience in the Charismatic movement), but it is xenologia – speaking in foreign languages. With this gift, the apostles could preach to everyone.

This is a reverse of what happen at the tower of Babel, Gen 11, where human beings were divided by many languages. The gift of the spirit means that all the people now become one, they now understand each other.

The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost is what explains how a terrified group of disciples locked behind locked doors in fear could all of a sudden go out and preach in boldness. They had received the promised power from on high.

Just as the disciples and mother Mary received the outpouring of the Spirit, so have we also received this spirit. Through the sacraments we continue to receive the sprit in the Church.

What is sad however, is the forgetfulness of the Spirit. Forgetting the power we have within us. Paul in the second reading says “the spirit of God has made a home in you” (v.9). Beloved, we have the Spirit within us. Just as God made Adam and breathed his breath in him (Gen 2:7), so does God who recreates us anew breath his spirit in us.

Most of us Catholics are like a beggar who sat on a particular box daily asking for coins from people who passed by. One day a stranger asked, what is in the box you are siting on, and he said “I don’t know”. Only to find out that there was gold inside! Imagine sitting on gold begging for coins – we suffer from “forgetfulness of the Spirit”.

The Holy Spirit is the power of God working in us. It is the presence of the risen Lord in our midst. It is the same power which raised Jesus from the dead, it is the resurrection power.

It is the same power through which God wants to dwell in you, transform you and give you fulfilment in life.

Paul in the 2nd reading tells us that forgetfulness of the Spirit leads to living according to the flesh, following our natural inclinations. This results in sadness, loneliness, addictions, violence in the family, fear etc. You feel sad and are enslaved, because of lack of the Spirit.

However, those with the indwelling power of the Spirit, have a deep sense of peace and joy. The Spirit brings out the best in you and makes you the best version of yourself.

Like the dead bones in Ezekiel 37, the Spirit wants to give you a new life today. Allow the Spirit to touch the dry bones of your relationships, anger, hurt, addiction and receive new life.

Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Fr. Ncube, SVD

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