In the last fifty days, we have celebrated important milestones in the Christ event, just as he promised ahead of time before they took place. As it is, we have celebrated his death and resurrection; his post-resurrection appearances and ascension into heaven. Today, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday. With it, we conclude the Easter season and begin the ordinary time of the year.
The celebration of the feast of Pentecost today presents us with a contrasting situation with what happened in Genesis 11:1-9. This is the famous incidence commonly referred to as the “Tower of Babel,” that became the “tower of confusion.” The contrasting thing involved, concern the role of human language in both situations. In this primitive encounter between God and his people, we were told that there was basically one language for all of humanity. However, this ideal situation changed once man began to build a tower in Babel, known as the “Tower of Babel.” Here, humanity thought that it could build itself into heaven by erecting this tower. The builders of this tower wanted to make a name for themselves. It was not to honor God. They wanted to be independent of God. Hence, he intervened. The result was the confusion of language that showed God’s superiority and might over humanity.
On the contrary, something different took place at Pentecost. Here, God showed his might as well, but in a different way. The confusion of language, which took place at Babel, became a fusion of language at Pentecost. If people began to misunderstand one another at Babel as a result of the confusion of their language, on account of this same language, they understood themselves at Pentecost. Hence, Pentecost becomes a reversal of the setback at Babel.
At Pentecost, the church became universal. The one language spoken by the apostles was understood by people of every nation present at the time in Jerusalem. The power of the Holy Spirit shattered the confines under which the apostles were hiding for fear of the Jews. It dispelled their fears and their discouragement and transformed them into fearless and courageous witnesses to the Life, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
St. John tells us that on the evening of that first day of the week, Jesus came to the disciples under locked doors for fear of the Jews. As he stood before them, he gave them the post resurrection gift of peace, divine mission and the gift of the Holy Spirit with which they would accomplish their task. It is the Holy Spirit that will re-enact in them the life, experiences, suffering and death of Jesus as well as his resurrection. In the midst of these experiences, they would find peace. This is the peace, which he has achieved after he has carried the cross, died and is risen from the dead. This is his post-resurrection offer of peace to his disciples, who during his trial left him and ran away. It is the offer of love, mercy and forgiveness. It is the offer of victory to us, over the enemies of our salvation. It is the offer of victory over Satan, Sin and death, that in every trial we shall be victorious; it is the assurance that the devil will never defeat us in battle; we shall never be overcome by evil, rather, we shall overcome evil with the power of love, goodness and Godliness. In our parish website, we posted the prayer of forgiveness and healing in our parish. That prayer obtains for us the Easter gift of peace of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will enable the disciples to continue the ministry of reconciliation and healing. That is why, Jesus breathed on them empowering them to receive the Holy Spirit so that whose sins they forgive are forgiven them, whose sins they retain are retained.
It is the Holy Spirit who distributes different ministries in the one Body of Christ, the holy Church. All of us have been given the same Spirit with different ministries.
In baptism and especially in the confirmation, we received the gift of the same Holy Spirit that spectacularly descended upon the Apostles with the Blessed Virgin Mary on the day of Pentecost. Like the Apostles, the Holy Spirit has given us the sevenfold gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and the fear of the Lord. And the twelve fruits: charity (or love), joy, peace, patience, benignity (or kindness), goodness, longanimity (or long suffering), mildness, faith, modesty, continence, and chastity. With these gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, we are formed into perfect disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ who continue to bear witness to Him in the world. These are the measures through which we discern and know authentic followers of Christ. Let us today and forever work for these manifestations of the Holy Spirit in our lives.