Message from Deacon Tim Schulz
“Receive the Holy Spirit”
Pentecost marks the end and the goal of the Easter season. For Christians, it is a memorial of the day the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and the Virgin Mary in the form of fiery tongues; an event that took place fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus. The Paschal mystery -- the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of Jesus -- culminates in the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father (at the request of His Son), on Jesus' disciples. We should celebrate Pentecost as the birthday of the Church Jesus established nearly 2000 years ago.
The scripture readings for today should remind us that Pentecost is an event of the past and the present. The main theme of today’s readings is that the gift of the Holy Spirit is something we should not only share with others, but it should be a source of our own hope and consolation. In the first reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of the miraculous transformation that took place during the first Pentecost, fulfilling Jesus’ promise to his apostles that they would receive “Power from on high.” There was first “a noise like a strong driving wind.” Then there were “tongues as of fire” resting on the disciples, and each of them was filled with the Holy Spirit. The first manifestation of their reception of the Holy Spirit came when the apostles began to proclaim the Good News of Jesus; everyone there (regardless of their many different native languages), was able to understand them “in his own tongue.”
In the second reading, St. Paul explains how the sharing of the various spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit enriches the Church. He refers to the varieties of gifts given to the Church as coming from the same Spirit Who activates all of them in Christians for the common good. He describes them as the gifts, fruits and charisms of the Spirit. The gifts may take different forms like prophecy, teaching, administration, acts of charity, healing and speaking in tongues, and they may reside in different persons like apostles, prophets, teachers, and healers, etc. The gospel relates how the Risen Jesus gave his apostles a foretaste of Pentecost on the evening of Easter Sunday by appearing to them and sending them to carry on the mission given him by his Heavenly Father. He then empowered them to do so by breathing upon them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” On the day of Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send the Paraclete. The gift of the Spirit would enable them to fulfill Jesus’ commission to preach the Gospel to all nations. Today’s Gospel passage also tells us how Jesus gave to the Apostles the power and authority to forgive sins.
“Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” These wonderful words, which bind together inseparably the presence of the Holy Spirit with the gift of forgiveness, are referred to directly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. However, they have a much wider meaning. Those words remind us of the Christian vocation we all have, to love and forgive, especially in our world today, which is often fiercely judgmental and vengeful. This day should be a reminder for us that Jesus is with us always, in the form of the Advocate; sent by His Father to be our guide. We should find hope in the good news that our Churches will be open soon, allowing us access to that we most dearly cherish; Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
Peace and Blessings!!