Today is the last Sunday of Easter time. Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, when we remember that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. It is also the beginning of the Church. All the readings today focus on the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church … it is the Holy Spirit which gave it life and it is the same Holy Spirit, who through his gifts, builds it and strengthens it. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we listen to the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of wind and fire. The disciples were locked up, they were afraid, when suddenly a great wind filled the room and tongues of fire appeared on each of them. They became full of courage, and they went outside to teach about Jesus. The Holy Spirit allowed everyone to understand them, even though they spoke different languages. This was the beginning of the Church. That day, many listened to the disciples, they began to believe, and they converted.
In the second reading, St Paul emphasizes the role of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit, these are given to build and strengthen the body of Christ, of which we are also part. We all received these gifts, though not everyone receives the same ones. To this effect, we are all expected to use these gifts, for the good of the Church, and not for own personal gain. St Paul emphasizes that although we are all different, everyone is important, and he likens the members of the Church to the members of a human body, which function together in synergy. Everyone has gifts and particular talents, and these are necessary for the Church to be built completely. Everyone has a particular role to play, and no one can replace him. In the Church of Jesus, no one is an extra. The idea of one body, links well with the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, where the Holy Spirit permitted everyone to understand what the apostles were saying. Pentecost, therefore, reminds us, that although there is diversity within the Church, there is unity in belief. We need to pray to the Holy Spirit, to encourage us to serve others with our talents and in this way build and strengthen the Church.
The Gospel is from St John, and it tells of when Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles. This account is different from the one given in the Acts of the Apostles, but it should not trouble us. Jesus promised that he would not leave the apostles on their own. He was to send them help, and this Gospel, shows how Jesus kept his word. Jesus breaths on the apostles and gives them the Holy Spirit; this reminds us of the creation episode, when God breathed on man and gave him life. In this account, Jesus breathes on the apostles and gives them a new life, with the power of the Holy Spirit.
In this Gospel we listen to Jesus giving peace to his friends, twice he tells them, “Peace be with you.” Then he continues to give them the Holy Spirit and speaks to them about forgiveness. We need the Holy Spirit to be at peace, and to ask for forgiveness, to receive forgiveness and to forgive others. Forgiveness and peace, go hand in hand.
The Holy Spirit helps you to bring these gifts of forgiveness and peace to your children, and to your family. Do you ask your children to forgive you when you do wrong? Do you help them to forgive those who hurt them? How do you behave when they ask to be forgiven? Do you truly forgive them, or do you keep reminding them about what they did? How do you help them to be true friends?
The same Holy Spirit given to the apostles, is also given to us. He gives us courage to live as true Christians, to be witnesses of Jesus within our families and everywhere else. The Holy Spirit was not only given to us at Baptism and Confirmation. The Holy Spirit gives life, and if we allow him to work within us and through us, he will lead us to reach our best and be what God has planned for us.