Dear Friends! Pentecost Sunday, which culminates the Easter Season, is a glorious day in which we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary in the Upper Room where they gathered in fear. They were transformed into courageous witnesses to the Faith, and from that upper room eventually went out to all parts of the earth to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that Pentecost Sunday is called the Birthday of the Church. The Church, as the Body of Christ, on this day, became the visible presence of the Risen Lord in the world. Each of us, as members of that Body of Christ, participates in that role of witnessing to, and building up the Kingdom of God.
Holy Spirit helps us to continue the mission of Jesus here on earth through the church. Paul writes about the gifts given to the early Church by the Holy Spirit as if such gifts are commonplace in the Church. In his first letter to the Corinthians 12:7-11 Paul wrote,
“The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given him by the same Spirit; and another the gift of faith given by the same Spirit … All these are the work of one and the same Spirit who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses.”
But we must not idealize the early Church. As we read Paul’s letters we realize that the early Church had as many problems as the Church now, and the Church in Corinth, to whom Paul wrote that beautiful passage about the gifts of the Spirit had more problems than any other church Paul founded. So I ask you to pray that the Church may receive a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
In our days we see some guided by the Spirit of truth and others guided by a different spirit. Paul also wrote about the difference between those guided by the Spirit and those who are not. “…live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other…” (Gal 5:16-17)
Paul went on to give examples of exactly what he meant. About those not guided by the Spirit Paul wrote, “the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.” (Gal 5:19-21)
How can such people really be happy? What a mess to be in. But Paul says those who have the Spirit have these fruits; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23)
Those showing these qualities in their lives are obviously happy people, not people without crosses and trials and sufferings, but happy people because they have opened their hearts to God and are receiving God’s blessings.
As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost let pray that we all may live by the spirit but by the flesh. Jesus tells us same thing he told his disciples, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I send you”. Amen!