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Solemnity of Pentecost

Acts. 2:1-11; Gal. 5:16-25 & Jn. 15:26-27, !6:12-15

God’s plan to offer the world the possibility of being recreated in holiness was fulfilled in a spectacular way when the Holy Spirit came on that first Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is truly God, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, and He carries the power to transform the world from death to life, from chaos to harmony, from ugliness to beauty and from division to unity.

The coming of the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus but it was made possible only by His death, resurrection and Ascension. Jesus Himself had referred to the Holy Spirit as the Power from on high, with Whom His apostles would be clothed. So after the Ascension they prayed continually and 10 days later this is what happened when the Holy Spirit descended on them in the form of tongues of fire. Indeed every person who believes in Jesus and is open to the Holy Spirit will experience the power of the Holy Spirit which comes primarily through the sacraments.

When we say that a person is under the influence of something or someone we mean that he or she is being driven by that influence. Their whole personality is taken over; they say and do things which would not ordinarily be said or done. We know this too well in the case of those who are under the influence of alcohol. Using the same analogy we too, when we are moved by the Holy Spirit, live and behave in a way which demonstrates that we are God’s children. Our fallen human nature rises to the heights of virtue and we may even surprise ourselves.

On that first Pentecost the disciples of Jesus, who came from Galilee, manifested the power of speaking in foreign tongues, something unheard of before. Some of the bystanders thought that they were drunk with alcohol when in fact they were drunk with the Holy Spirit. Their lives were completely taken over and moved by the Spirit.

By giving the disciples the gift of tongues, the Holy Spirit gathered together people of different nationalities into the Church, accepting each other as brothers and sisters, confessing one Lord Jesus and speaking the one language of love. That primitive Church stands as an eternal sign of the marvellous unity brought about by the Spirit. How much the world stands in need of this unity today! Poisoned by prejudice, harassed by hatred and torn by violence, the path to unity often seems long and fraught with problems.

The root cause of disunity is sin. If unity and peace are to be achieved in society and in the world they must first begin in individual hearts. From there they can spread outwards. It necessarily involves each of us tackling our personal sins. And thus, we can understand why, when breathing the Holy Spirit on the apostles, the Lord also gave them the power to forgive sins. If we wish communities and nations to progress along the path of unity and peace, then we need to clear the obstacles by confronting our personal sins and asking for God’s forgiveness. We do this in the Sacrament of Reconciliation where the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts to heal us of our sins. Where sin has scattered our good intentions, the Holy Spirit gathers up what remains of them and makes us whole again. For forgiveness brings peace.

Lord Jesus, send the Holy Spirit anew into our hearts this Pentecost, that both individually and collectively we may experience, and enjoy, peace and unity for which we long.

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