The Season of Easter concludes with the Solemnity of Pentecost when the Church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. As this event marks the beginning of the Church, we can also say, it is the birthday of the Holy Mother Church.
Yesterday as I was driving home, the long stretch of the expressway gave me the chance to think and reflect on the difficulties people are encountering nowadays. This pandemic is not only about public health, it is also about its effects on livelihood, jobs, and food security which remain valid concerns. Many are feeling the crunch after months of limited mobility and work. While most of the country moves into the GCQ (General Community Quarantine) starting tomorrow, the feeling is still of fear, apprehension and anxiety.
In today’s Gospel (Jn. 20: 19-23), the feeling of the disciples are similar to what most are experiencing now,
‘On the evening of that first day of the week,when the doors were locked, where the discipleswere, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.’
Despite their faith, the disciples were afraid. There was no peace in their hearts. In these moments, the disciples “needed the assurance of the Resurrection”, to quote Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, in his homily today. Before the disciples can become effective messengers of the Good News to the world, they’d need peace to calm down their fears and worries.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
It is time for the Lord to pass on the mission to His disciples. But He knew that they would need an Advocate, the Holy Spirit. They would need to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit to set the world on fire.Inthe same way, we would need a transformation in our faith, believing that the Holy Spirit is true and authentic and wants to enter our lives as the disciples experienced.
What’s happening around us can often lead to spiritual dryness as we are caught in the anxieties, concerns and distractions. Worry and fear overshadow us and our love for Jesus can die down. To revive our faith and our zeal for the Lord, we need to put another log into the fire to spark the dying embers of our spirits. God is reaching out to us with His love, grace and strength so that we can effectively live lives that can change the world.
Have you experienced going through this, and suddenly things became better, you feel that the “sun’s finally coming out?”The Lord Jesus has come through the closed doors of the room, stood with us saying, “Peace be with you.” Behold, despite the distance from the physical church, the fire of Pentecost is bright again! Rest assured that for as long as we remain steadfast, the Holy Spirit will grant us the wisdom to understand God’s purpose for all that we are now experiencing.
Today, let us be reminded of the Lord’s promise of fullness, the living Spirit of God, where grace is like living water, flowing steadily so we’ll never thirst again. Pentecost transforms us into powerful instruments of God’s grace. Let us then go forth to spread the holiness of God to the world.
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”