Reflections for the Pentecost, May 31, 2020:
While an old beggar was on his deathbed, he called his youngest son who had been his constant companion during his begging trips. “Dear son,” he said, “I have nothing to give you except a cotton bag and a dirty bronze bowl which I got in my younger days from the junkyard of a rich lady.” After his father’s death, the boy continued begging, using the bowl his father had given him. One day a gold merchant dropped a coin in the boy’s bowl, and he was surprised to hear a familiar clinking sound. “Let me check your bowl,” the merchant said. To his great surprise, he found that the boys’ bowl was made of pure gold. He said, “My dear young man, why do you waste your time begging? You are a rich man. This bowl of yours is worth at least thirty thousand dollars.”
“We Christians are often like this beggar boy who failed to recognize and appreciate the value of his bowl. We fail to appreciate the infinite worth of the Holy Spirit living within each of us, sharing His gifts and fruits and charisms with us. “
On this feast of Pentecost, we are invited to experience and appreciate the transforming, sanctifying, and strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit within us. This is also a day for us to renew the promises made to God during our Baptism and Confirmation, to renew our profession of faith every day. The word Pentecost in Greek (pentecostes) means the 50th. In the Old Testament, the Jews celebrated the feast of the Pentecost on the 50th day of the Feast of the Passover. This was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving celebration, but the Jews added the remembrance of the Covenants God made with Noah after the flood and with Moses on the mountain Sinai. Thus, a religious flavor was added to this harvest festival.
In the New Testament: The Christians celebrated the Feast of the Pentecost on the 50th day of the Resurrection of Jesus.
Role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a true believer:
It is a beautiful thought that the Holy Spirit lives within each of us as a treasure! Saint Paul reminds the Corinthian Community of this fact when he asks,
“Do you not know that you are God’s Temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16).
It is the Holy Spirit who develops our intimacy with God. “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba!‘ (‘Father!’)” (Gal 4:6).
“God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).
“No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:3). Moreover, we know that it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to pray (Romans 8:26).
Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of the Church. It is the Holy Spirit who enlivens, enlightens, guides, and sanctifies the Church. The Psalm response for this Sunday says: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” We know that the Holy Spirit is at the heart of the Sacramental life of the Church. Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders are the Sacramental Mysteries through which we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. It would be impossible for us to receive Jesus in the Eucharist without the descent of the Holy Spirit at the Epiclesis of the Divine Liturgy. Even the forgiveness of sins comes through the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-23).
The Holy Spirit both confirmed the apostles in Holy Orders as priests and empowered them to forgive sins by His power which He continues today in each of our priests.
- We need to permit the Holy Spirit to direct our lives:
a) By constantly remembering and appreciating His Holy Presence within us, especially through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation;
b) By fortifying ourselves with His help against all types of temptations;
c) By seeking His assistance in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and in the breaking of our evil habits;
d) By listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the Bible and the good counsel of others;
e) By fervently praying for His gifts, fruits, and charisms;
f) By asking Him to renew our lives through a daily fresh anointing;
g) By living our lives in Him as lives of commitment, of sacrifice, and joy. We are called to love as Jesus loved, not counting the cost. As Saint Paul exhorts us, “Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25).
- We need to observe Pentecost every day.
The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen once said about the Church, “Even though we are God’s chosen people, we often behave more like God’s frozen people–frozen in our prayer life, frozen in the way we relate with one another, frozen in the way we celebrate our faith.” [Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in June, 2012.] Today is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle in us the spirit of new life and enthusiasm. Archbishop Romero’s declaration reminds us that Pentecost is not just one day, but every day. Without breath, there is no life. Without the Spirit, the Church is a field of dry, dead bones.
As we celebrate this great feast, let us join
St. John Henry Cardinal Newman who prayed:
“Come Holy Spirit
Make our ears to hear
Make our eyes to see
Make our mouths to speak
Make our hearts to seek, make our hands reach out
And touch the world with your love. AMEN.”
Fr Tomy Puliyan, MSFS
“Holiness and Happiness through Wellness and Wholeness”