YEAR B: HOMILY FOR PENTECOST SUNDAY
HOMILY THEME: THE SPIRIT OF GOD
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
There is a story about how wine came into being. One day in Paradise, Adam went out to plant a vine. The devil, the ancient serpent, approached Adam and asked, “What are you planting?” Adam answered, “I am planting a vine.” “What is that?” the devil asked again. Adam replied, “The vine is a tree that bears fruits called grapes. These are made into wine so that I can drink it and make life more lively and exciting.” That night, while Adam was asleep, the devil came and poured the blood of a lamb on the plant. The next night he came again and poured the blood of lion. On the third night, he brought the blood of monkey; and on the fourth night, the blood of fish. That is why, when a man drinks wine, his cheeks become red and he gives a meek and cute smile like a lamb. When he drinks three or four glasses of wine, his voice becomes louder. He begins to growl like a lion. But when he still goes on to drink more wine, he then acts like a monkey, dancing and jumping around like crazy. And when he has drunk too much wine, he falls down from his chair, unable to stand up and walk. He crawls and swims like a fish. That is the effect of the spirit of alcohol, the spirit which many of us are familiar with. So we have to heed the warning on the bottle: “Drink moderately!”
In the first reading today, the Jews thought that the Apostles were drunk! They came out of the house that morning of Pentecost speaking loudly and in high spirits. It is true that they were intoxicated, but not with the spirit of alcohol, but with the divine spirit, the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit changed the apostles so profoundly that this triggered the total change and renewal of the entire world.
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost was originally a Jewish harvest festival called “Shavout”. It is also the Festival of Weeks, which commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai fifty days after the exodus from Egypt. Hence, the name Pentecost, from the Greek word “pente”, which means fifty. On this day, there were many Jews in Jerusalem. The apostles were afraid to go out. They were just inside the upper room, with the door and windows locked. But they were praying together with the Blessed Mother. Then suddenly, out of nowhere they heard a loud rush of strong wind, and tongues of fire hovered over the head of each one of them. It was the Holy Spirit that descended on them, just as Jesus has promised.
This suddenly changed everything. The apostles were not anymore afraid and timid. They rushed out of the house and began to proclaim loudly to everybody the message of the Risen Lord. The people who heard them were very amazed that, although they come from different places and diverse languages, they clearly understood what the apostles were saying. This event was such a great phenomenon that Pentecost became known as the Feast of the Coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.
Indeed, Pentecost is a very significant event in the life of the Church. Though “born from the side of our Savior on the Cross like a new Eve, mother of all the living,” (Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi, no. 28) she was not yet known to the world because the disciples were still hiding in one room. On Pentecost, by the power of the Holy Spirit, she was manifested into the world when the apostles came out of hiding and began to proclaim boldly the message of the Risen Lord. Pentecost, then, can rightly be called the Epiphany or Manifestation of the Church. The Holy Spirit gave the apostles all the graces and gifts to fulfill the final instructions of Jesus before His ascension into heaven: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).
Pentecost, then, is the Feast of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity. He is pure spirit, and this explains why we have difficulty having a clear understanding of His nature. Yet the truth is that the Holy Spirit is with us always. He is the abiding presence of God in the world, as Jesus promised: “And behold, I am with you always until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). We have already received Him in our Baptism, and most especially in Confirmation when we were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
To help us have a clearer understanding of the third Person, it is good to mention a few of His most common manifestations as described in the Scriptures. The first manifestation is wind. The apostles heard a sudden rush of strong wind. In the Gospel today, it said: “Jesus breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” The breath of Jesus reminds us of God’s action in creation: “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Gen 2:7). The Holy Spirit as wind or breath means life. It is the life-giving breath of God. The Holy Spirit, therefore, gives us life. Without Him, there is no possibility of living. The second manifestation is fire. On that Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire on the head of the apostles. Fire gives heat, power and energy. Fire also transforms. It transforms a house into ashes, raw meat and fish into delicious food, and hard metals into liquid form. Fire also purifies. It separates gold from alloys, cleans and sterilizes things, purifies materials from dirt and all contaminants. The Holy Spirit is the fire of love. He is the principle of power, renewal and transformation. And so we pray: “Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” That is why, in the Gospel today, immediately after giving the apostles the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus offered the sacrament of forgiveness from sins: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn 20:23). God renews us and gives us new life through the Holy Spirit and the sacrament of Reconciliation.
And the third manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the white dove as seen hovering over the head of Jesus after His baptism at the Jordan River. The white dove symbolizes freedom and purity. The Holy Spirit cleanses us from sin and makes us pure. And so we have perfect freedom as God’s children. We are not anymore slaves of sin but we become sons and daughters of freedom and glory.
This Sunday let us honor and praise the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of God. And everyday let us be constantly aware of the abiding presence of God’s Spirit so that we may truly be living temples of the Holy Spirit and instruments of renewal, transformation and life of the world. And so we pray: “Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in us the fire of Your love and renew the face of the earth. Amen.”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422