This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost and Jesus’ promised gift of the Holy Spirit. In the first reading (Acts 2:1-11) the apostles are gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem “waiting for power from on high” as Jesus had directed them before he ascended into heaven. They were most likely praying together for comfort as they waited, when suddenly the Spirit descended upon them, filling them with courage and zeal to go out and share Christ and his message with the whole world. The Church is born!
In today’s gospel (John 20:19-23), we revisit an earlier time when the apostles were cloistered together in a room in Jerusalem, but that time it was because they were broken hearted and afraid they too might be killed for having followed Jesus. This time it is the Risen Christ who burst into their cramped inner space, offering them peace and forgiveness. Rather than being condemned, they were given new life and responsibilities: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed the Holy Spirit into them and commissioned them to pass this peace forward by forgiving the sins of others. Priests carry this gift on in a powerful way through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but we are all called to witness to God’s unfathomable mercy and love for each and every one of us.
How do I promote peace in our world? Do I open myself up to the life changing love of the Holy Spirit through regular prayer, the sacraments, and service to others? Who right now most needs my love and forgiveness to be set free from shame and fear?
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful!”