they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (First Reading Acts 2: 1-11)
It’s my first visit to Tokyo and thus goes with it the unfamiliarity and challenge of going around the train and subway system. At the start of the second day, one of my worries is on how I can find the route to a Church considering it’s the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday. I had to struggle with the idea considering there were places already set on the itinerary with limited time to find the way to Church, plus the fact that there were few that have English services. Naturally, these worries filled up my morning as my family were visiting tourist spots in Tokyo. After a visit to a shrine where we witnessed two weddings, I asked my daughter how’s our schedule looking like in the afternoon, to which she replied we don’t have that much anymore. That was the answer I prayed hard for so that it’ll be my turn to direct the remaining itinerary for the day. Surfing around the net to find a Church, what struck me was that there’s this St. Ignatius Church that we can devote locating the rest of the day. While we agreed we can still go there early evening, I took the chance of going earlier as there’s a 1:30 Mass. When we arrived there though, the Mass was already halfway through as the schedule on the website wasn’t followed as the Church is also celebrating today its 20th Anniversary.
Anyway, it still gave me that sense of fulfillment and affirmation from the Lord because while we weren’t conversant in Japanese, our familiarity with the Scriptures and the Holy Mass enabled us to understand what the Priest was saying during the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. And the Priest is not Japanese, but he’s speaking Nihongo so fluently that you won’t recognize he’s a Spaniard if you didn’t see him talk. What amazed me was that the Sacred Hymns played during the Mass were all familiar songs we learned during CFC days!
Later in the afternoon, with the active workings of the Holy Spirit, my family was able to meet a classmate from High School, after 39 years!!! Surprisingly, her daughter is scheduled to fly to Manila to attend school at Ateneo. Do you think these were all by coincidence?
Here’s more: In one of the recollections I attended facilitated by then Bishop Chito Tagle (now Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila), I remember him tell a story about how Filipinos’ close fellowship while working in a hospital abroad inspired a young woman to study Theology at Ateneo to understand more about the Philippines and its culture. She had learned from this group of Filipinos that what made them closer to each other is their love for Jesus Christ. And so because she wants to feel that love for God and the search for understanding what this “love of Christ” means, she went to study at Ateneo and curiously had a classmate by the name of Luis Antonio Tagle. Many years later when they met again, Bishop Tagle was so pleased to know she has risen in her Church to become like the Secretary of the Archbishop in her Church’s capital city. However, she was more surprised when she learned during the introduction of the Keynote Speaker, that classmate Chito is already a Bishop! (The good cardinal is one known for his humility and meekness, and stories abound about how he substitutes for priests in his Diocese riding a tricycle and without offering the information to the Church’s lay people who he is not until they ask his name for introduction at the start of Mass).
Anyway, it’s awesome for a woman who wasn’t a good communicator in English when she studied in the Philippines but became a willing servant of God years after she left the country. She came simply to study and understand a culture, not knowing that God had plans for her someday. She has unknowingly helped spread the Gospel in a big way.
Indeed, with the active workings of the Holy Spirit, the Church has continued to spread since that First Pentecost. Only by hearing the proclamation of the Sacred Scriptures did we know about what happened at that time. However, with the witnessing of the Apostles and the rest of the disciples who spread the Gospel to our land did we also arrive at a point when we were invited to the Church and transform our lives in a deep and personal way. By this changing of heart (“Metanoia”) and mindset did we allow the Holy Spirit to touch and enter our lives more intimately. With our opening to the Spirit of God, we allow Him to set our hearts on fire. By this we cooperate in the redeeming work of Jesus to change our life and others by the way we live.
On this Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, let us ponder and reflect on how the Holy Spirit has led us closer to the Holy Trinity.
May we pray unceasingly,
“Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O LORD!
the earth is full of your creatures.” (Ps. 104: 1, 24)