Homily Solemnity of Pentecost Year B The role of the Holy Spirit

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Homily Solemnity of Pentecost Year B


Reading 1: This is a feast of Transition. The transition from the active ministry of Jesus on earth to the active ministry of the Holy Spirit, continuing the work of Jesus. Last Sunday we recall Jesus telling the Apostles that they were soon to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit comes he will fill them with power so that they could witness the Good News of Salvation to the whole world.


While waiting for the fulfillment of Jesus’ words, the Apostles along with Mary and others spent the time in prayer and in reflecting on their many memories and teachings of Jesus. They recalled that the first message of Jesus was a call for repentance. Looking back, they could see where they needed to repent of their many sins. They also recalled how often Jesus insisted that to be his disciple, they had to totally surrender their lives to him. This they did. And they recalled both at the Last Supper and before Jesus ascended, he reminded they to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.


Faithful to the words of Jesus, on the Day of Pentecost, a Jewish feast day, they received the promised gift of the Spirit. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to manifest various gifts of the Spirit, while praising God.


This gift of the Holy Spirit was not just for them.  The power of the Spirit was given to them to witness to the whole world that risen Jesus is both Lord and Messiah. This is what they did. A crowd of people had heard the mighty sound of wind when the Spirit came. When the Apostles went outside, still praising God in various tongues, the people thought they were drunk. For each heard them in their own native language, proclaiming the mighty deeds of God. Peter then gave his first witness about Jesus.


Such is the plan of God for each of us, to be filed with the Holy Spirit, to be filled with power so that we can witness about Jesus. Luke proclaims this in a number of places to make sure we understand the plan of God for each of us and one of the purposes of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.


When we were baptized in water, we received the Spirit, who dwelt in us. We became temples of the Holy Spirit, sharing God’s divine life. We became disciples of Jesus and members of the community of believers, the Church. The Spirit has been given to us for our sanctification, that we may grow in our union with God in holiness of life.  When we were confirmed we received a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit so that we could be public witnesses for Christ. We received the same gifts that Jesus received when he was anointed by the Spirt after his baptism in the Jordan, the same gifts the Apostles and others received on the Day of Pentecost. As Easter is the reminder of our baptism, Pentecost is a reminder of our Confirmation.


Gospel: We have heard this Gospel passage the second Sunday of Easter. In John’s theology the Paschal Mystery includes the Incarnation of Jesus, his life, death and resurrection, his Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. So when John narrates the Easter event, he connects it with the coming of the Spirit.


There are three main points in today’s Gospel. First, Jesus said: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  Notice Jesus doesn’t chide them for their unfaithfulness, when he needed them. Instead, he tells what is now expected of them. The Father had sent Jesus to proclaim the Good News of salvation with signs and wonders as his credentials.  Jesus would be ascending to the Father, but his mission is to be continued.  Jesus has prepared them for this task over the past three years. Now they were to take up his mantle.


But Jesus, in his humanity, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, so that his message may be confirmed with signs and wonders in the power of the Holy Spirit. For the Apostles to fulfill their new mission, they needed the same anointing. So Jesus breathed on them, imparting the gift of the Spirit upon them.  It wasn’t until the Day of Pentecost that they would receive the stirring of the Holy Spirit, a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, who would transform them.


The third point was that as Jesus had the power to forgive sins, he empowers them to forgive the sins of others in his name and through the power of the Holy Spirit.  God would forgive but they were to be external, visible instruments by which this happens.


Reading 2: Paul tells us that we are to live by the Spirit; we are to be guided by the Spirit.  As Jesus was guided by the Spirit, so are we. Jesus was guided by the Spirit in the works that God had given him to do. Jesus was sinless. We are struggling sinners. One of the reasons we are given the Holy Spirit is to help us in time of temptation.  We are weak and vulnerable. We struggle with a variety of sinful actions: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, envy, etc. On our own we will probably fall. But if we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, who calls us to keep our eyes on the Father, we can overcome these temptations.  When we do, we will bear the fruits of the Spirit. 

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