Homily Pentecost Sunday Year B

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Homily Pentecost Sunday Year B

Reading 1: Last Sunday, we heard Jesus tell the Apostles that they were to wait after his Ascension for the coming of the Holy Spirit. He said they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And when the Spirit came they would receive power to witness in his name about God’s plan for salvation. Today, we heard that all were filled with the Holy Spirit. Both terms speak about the same phenomena that the Apostles, Mary, the 120 disciples and all those thenceforth would experience.

What did they experience and what did they do. They received the anointing power of the Holy Spirit. As a result they manifested some of the gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in different tongues, which we heard Jesus in Last Sunday’s Gospel speak about. And they witnessed the mighty acts of God, namely the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. They proclaimed the good news of God’s love for his people through the person of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

All this is a confirmation and fulfillment of the words of Jesus, especially before he ascended to the Father. But it was also the beginning of the new mission that Jesus had given to his followers. What they had experienced in the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, while he was on earth, has now become their mission until the end of time.

Let’s look at the extraordinary events that took place on Pentecost. Ordinary men and women were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. These ordinary people having been transformed by the Holy Spirit, are gifted with new languages. They began to witness about God’s love in a way that touched the hearts of their hearers and in the language of their hearers.

What follows this episode is the first homily that Peter preaches in the power of the Spirit. He proclaims Jesus as Lord and Savior. The people ask him what was expected of them. Peter gave three brief points: Repent, believe and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and then they too would receive the Holy Spirit. He concluded: “For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far away; for whomever the Lord our God will have called.”

As we celebrate this Feast, how does this event and message apply to us? Are we filled with the Holy Spirt? Are we witnessing our faith?

Reading 2: Paul states that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. This is a role of the Holy Spirit, to testify the truth about Jesus. He is our Lord and God. But this testimony is validated and confirmed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These particular gifts are given for the benefit of others, so that they can come to a deeper awareness of God’s love and plan for them. What is not included in today’s reading is a list of some of these extraordinary gifts given to ordinary people: word of wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Paul indicates that this is normal Christian life to be filled with the Spirit, to proclaim Jesus as Lord and to exercise one or more of these gifts for the benefit of bringing others to Jesus.  We have received these gifts in Baptism and Confirmation. But for the most part these gifts lie dormant within us. They need to be stirred up and activated to fulfill the purpose they were given, namely witnessing in the power of the Spirit of the mighty deeds of God.

Gospel: The first words of the resurrected Jesus was peace not chastisement, to assure the apostles that he forgave them for abandoning him in the time of his greatest need. Then he commissions them: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” The Father sent Jesus in the power and under the anointing of the Holy Spirit to bring the good news of salvation and love to the world. Then, he breathes on them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In John’s theology, you cannot separate the events of the Pascal Mystery.  The death and resurrection of Jesus, his ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit must be seen together, even though in time they happened separately.
On Easter we had an opportunity to renew our commitment to God through the renewal of our baptismal promises.  We were renewing our yes to grow in holiness of life. Today, we have an opportunity to pray for a fresh stirring  up of the gifts of the Spirit so that we can fulfill our mission as disciples of Jesus, namely to witness him to others in the power of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders as our credentials.  
This is God’s plan and expectation for his disciples. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Our life is not to be business as usual, but a life of a public witness of the truth of the Gospel of salvation.  Our life and actions are to be our greatest manifestation of this truth. What God has done for me, God wants to do for you. Repent, believe and expect that gift of the Holy Spirit.

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