Dearly Beloved, our celebration today concludes the season of Easter. Easter is the feast of light, the new life that begins with Christ’s resurrection. Pentecost is the celebration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It marks the beginning of the new covenant, and the birth of the public life of the Church. The celebration of our birthdays is always a moment of great joy and feast. We, at Holy Spirit Parish therefore, have a dual celebration on this day of Pentecost.
Dearly Beloved, did Jesus promise to send the Holy Spirit? Yes. And we have been reading about this promise over the past couple of weeks. Did He actually fulfill this promise to the early disciples? Yes, He did. And, did that make any difference in the lives of the early disciples, definitely. The first reading relates in detail the events of the coming of the Holy Spirit as a great manifestation of God’s power.
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
The speaking in different tongues, as understood by all the Jews that came to Jerusalem for the celebration of the feast of Pentecost, was a miracle. It was a clear manifestation of the mission of the universal church. It is a call for the church to be a sign of human unity. This is irrespective of race, color or language.
How does the Spirit bring about this oneness? St. Paul reminds us in the second reading how the Spirit accomplishes this oneness by giving different gifts.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service/ministry but the same Lord;there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
Does God promise His Holy Spirit at baptism and in confirmation? Yes. Did you actually receive the gift of His Spirit when you were baptized and confirmed? Of course. Now, I can safely follow up with the question about your gifts. Or, what is your gift? How easy does the answer come to you? We are all familiar with the seven (7) gifts of the Holy Spirit, and so, we will not go into those details. However, I will point out that your unique gift or gifts dispose you to a particular ministry in the body of Christ, the church. We hear Paul’s words again
“To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”
Beloved, what this means is that you have been so blessed with a unique gift, a particular ministry or the ability for the good of all of us. Do you know what that is? It’s so sad that some Christians will never wonder or even bother to find out what their gifts are, during their earthly lives. How long have you been a Christian and what is your gift? What have you been so blessed with, for the collective good? What is that unique role that you have been enabled to fulfill among us?
Do permit me to illustrate in these words. What happens when the quarterback of a football team doesn’t know he’s the quarterback? Or, what about if the quarterback doesn’t know the responsibilities of a quarterback? Whatever answers you give, will have very strong implications.
Listen to that part of the second reading again;
“To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit”.
Friends, in a very limited way the gospel emphasizes our commissioning for a mission. We are told
“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.”
Dearly Beloved, we all have a duty not just to know our spiritual gifts, but more importantly, we have a responsibility to share our gifts and use them. That and only that will help us become more alive to ourselves, to our church and to our world. May that same Spirit who is at work in Christ and in the early disciples, also work in us to transform us, the church and the world.