Happy Pentecost! Happy Memorial Day!!
We talk about the spirit in common conversation. Sometimes we say, I am in good spirit or we talk about community spirit, the national spirit. In these contests, we talk about the spirit of love, unity, life, and so on. Jesus promised theHoly Spirit, the advocate. After 50 days of Easter, we celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost means fifty.
The Jews celebrated the feast of Pentecost fifty days after the Passover. Originally it was an agricultural feast (Leviticus 23:15-17) and later giving of the law at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20). Now we celebrate the new Pentecost after the fifty days of Jesus' resurrection. When God came to Mount Sinai, there was fire and a loud sound with trumpet blasts. In the new Pentecost, there was a mighty wind, and tongues of fire came over to the Apostles.
We can see the presence of the Holy Spirit from the beginning of the Bible. In the Book of Genesis (1:2) we read, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the earth.” 2:7 we read, “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” The Gospel of John 20:21&22, Jesus after the resurrection appeared to the disciples and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.” In the book of Genesis, we see the first creation of man, and in the Gospel of John we see the recreation.
One of the readings for the Vigil Mass is from the book of Genesis 11:1-9 which gives the background for the understanding of Pentecost as a reversal of Babel. The word babel means confused voice(s). The story of the Tower of Babel tells us that the sinful pride of the human beings separate them from God and to show their pride they decided to build the towel to touch the sky. They all spoke the same language, but God confused them and that prevented them to build the tower. At the Pentecost, however, even though there were people from many nations, they overcome the language barrier. All of them were able to understand each other. The Christian tradition views Pentecost as the undoing of the Tower of Babel, and the reunification of the human family through the mission and witness of the apostolic Church.
The reading from the book of Joel (3:1-5) he anticipates that the Lord will someday renew faithful with the divine spirit. In Acts 2:17–21, Peter addresses the people and in his address he cites Joel’s words to suggest that the newly constituted Christian community, filled with divine life and power, inaugurates the Lord’s Day, understood as salvation for all who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.
We received the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and strengthened by the Sacrament of Confirmation by the laying of hands. Anointing of the Holy Spirit takes place in us when we eagerly are asking for it. Sometimes we may attempt to think, it is for the saintly people. It is not a wrong concept. Anointing of the Holy Spirit is for all of us to grow in holiness. Jesus promised apostles an advocate, a helper. When they received the Holy Spirit, it changed their life, they got out of the fear. They went out to the street and proclaimed the Good News. Today, we are sent out to proclaim the good news. It may be our homes, our neighborhood, workplace, and son. Suppose, you didn't see your neighbor at the Mass, do you feel the need to call? Maybe I have to rephrase that question, “do you miss them?” Pentecost reminds us that we need to ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us to reach out to others because we are sent out to evangelize the Good News.
This weekend we also celebrate Memorial Day. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Let us hold them in our prayers. At the same time let us remember all those who are serving to keep us safe.
Happy Pentecost! Happy Memorial Day!!