You are the temple of the Holy Spirit
1. ✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (Jn20:19-23). Taken from today’s gospel for pentecost Sunday.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “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. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
2. The feast of Pentecost predates Christianity. It was and still is a Jewish feast of thanksgiving after harvest which comes up fifty days after Passover, thus the name pente(fifty). The feast also commemorates the giving of the Law to Moses. This giving of the Law marks the beginning of the Jewish religion, Yahwism, which later became Judaism after the Babylonian exile. For the feast of Pentecost every male Jew in good health has the obligation of going to Jerusalem to participate in the feast.
3. Today’s first reading speaks of crowds that came from all over the world that gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. They were there for the Jewish feast but God used the opportunity to send the Holy Spirit on the day of the Jewish feast in a spectacular way. In this way he inaugurated, through the Holy Spirit, a new religion. The reading speaks of wind, recalling the beginning of creation in Genesis 1:2-3 where the Spirit of God hovers over the waters like a wind. It speaks of fire, recalling the giving of the Law in Exodus 19. It speaks of tongues, recalling the confusion of tongues that took place at the tower of Babel, scattering humanity to the ends of the earth (Genesis 11). When all these are put together, we realized that God arranged all these elements to pass the message that he was creating a new world, a new humanity, which will be governed by the Holy Spirit based on the teachings of Christ. It was the beginning of Christianity.
4. The gospel presents the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles after the resurrection of Jesus. His coming mandates the apostles to do two things: bear witness to Christ and forgive sins. These two can only be realized in partnership with Holy Spirit, who, according to today’s second reading, bestows his different gifts to different people for the good of the body of Christ, the Church.
5. The collective message of today’s readings is that we all need the Holy Spirit if we must live good Christian life. We must have the Holy Spirit as our partner. We do this through being conscious of the fact that the Holy Spirit is already living in us. St. Paul says that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, meaning that he is always with us. To this consciousness one must add prayer, knowledge of the Word of God and fidelity to the teachings of the Church for whose service the Holy Spirit was given. This fidelity involves living being in communion and in communication with one another. We cannot be dispersed, each going his own way or even fighting the others and still claim to be faithful to the Spirit of God.
6. Like the apostles you too have received the Holy Spirit on the day of your baptism. You are thus a commissioned witness of Christ. Put yourself at the disposition of the Holy Spirit so that He can use you to make the world a better place. Make effort to listen to his promptings and inspirations in your heart. Avoid grieving him through sin especially impurities of thoughts and actions. Above all, consciously call upon him for enlightenment at times of taking decisions especially important ones.
Be filled with the Holy Spirit.