My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today, as we joyfully celebrate Pentecost Sunday, it’s a good day for all of us to renew our devotion to the Holy Spirit. It is a good time for us to open our hearts once again to the reality of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our world.
As we know, the Holy Spirit is the gift of God, the personal love of God — poured into our hearts in Baptism and “sealed” in us by the Sacrament of Confirmation, and renewed in us in the Eucharist.
The Holy Spirit is the “soul” our identity and mission as Christians. So we need to ask the Spirit today to strengthen his gifts within us, so that we can carry out our mission.
In our first reading that we heard today, from the Acts of the Apostles, we “re-live” the sending of the Spirit, that beautiful moment on the first Pentecost in that Upper Room in Jerusalem.
This Upper Room, as we know, was the place where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his apostles. And it was the place where he appeared to them on the night of his Resurrection, the first Easter night.
And, as we know, the apostles and his mother, Mary the Mother of his Church, were gathered in this room after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven — waiting for the Spirit to come, his Spirit whom he promised to send to them.
So, it was 50 days after his Resurrection. And, as we heard, Jesus did send his Spirit. The Spirit came — like a strong driving wind and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues of fire which parted and came to rest on each one of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
My brothers and sisters, Pentecost tells us that our God is alive! That our God is the living God who comes to us as fire and as the wind. Our God moves through this world as Spirit. Still today he is living and active. His Spirit is still working to renew the face of the earth and makes all things new, a new creation.2
The first Christians talked about being temples of the Holy Spirit, with the Spirit of Christ dwelling in their hearts through faith.3 And that’s true! That’s real! We are children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit shows us that there is a richness and a dignity to our human lives.
When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, then we see all the goodness and beauty in the world, we see the image of God in others.
And we also have a new compassion, a new sense of people’s needs and their sufferings — and we also feel our responsibility to love others for God’s sake.
It is the Holy Spirit that is working in our souls, if we allow him to do it. That’s what today, we especially have to ask for that grace — to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and to be with us and to help us to see the new things of God’s love and presence in our world.
So when we reflect on that first Pentecost, we notice that when the Holy Spirit comes — the apostles immediately begin to proclaim Jesus Christ and his works of love.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak … as the Holy Spirit enable them to proclaim …
the mighty acts of God.
The Holy Spirit is sent to finish God’s work in the world, to complete the mission of Jesus.
Jesus said he came to cast fire on the earth.4 What he was talking about — was the fire of the Holy Spirit.
That fire that he started on Pentecost, my dear brothers and sisters, is still burning. It’s still burning in his Church. It’s still burning in our hearts, in the hearts of all the baptized.
So today we really need to ask the Holy Spirit to come, to inflame our hearts again, to drive away our fear and to rekindle the fires of his mission within us. We need to ask the Spirit to make us better apostles, better witnesses. Better Christians.
Pentecost, my brothers and sisters, is our purpose, my brothers and sisters. We’re here to be his witnesses.5 That’s what gives meaning to our Christian lives.
Because to be a Christian is to be a child of God, led by his Spirit to share the good news of his salvation.
That’s why St. Paul, in the second reading of today’s Mass, reminds us— that the Spirit brings us his gifts so we can share in his mission. He says:
We are all baptized into one Body …
To each individual … the Spirit is given for some benefit.
That’s the way it was during the apostolic times, with the Apostles and then the first Christians and today is still true — we have in us to bring those gifts to the people of our times. Because the nations of the world are scattered, peoples everywhere are divided and confused. By race and by language, by religion and culture. By poverty and war.
So today it is still true — the world needs a new “Pentecost,” a new manifestation of God’s Spirit. The world still needs the mission of the Church.
And the Church’s mission is our mission. Pentecost is our purpose.
So let’s especially ask the Holy Spirit to bring that fire to our hearts and our lives so that we can really be enthusiastic about the mission of the Church.
Jesus says also in the Gospel passage today, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
So Jesus is sending each one of us every day to walk with him — to walk in the light of his Spirit and to share his love and his message of peace and reconciliation with everyone.
Today, as I’m sure you know, our Holy Father Pope Francis invited the Presidents of Israel and Palestine to join him at the Vatican to pray for peace in the Holy Land. And it is happening as we speak. It started at, I think, 7pm Rome time, so it’s happening during our celebration of the Holy Mass.
It is a beautiful gesture. And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the Pope called this meeting on Pentecost. Because he knows that peace is a gift from God, and that the unity of the Spirit is the bond of peace.6
So today as we celebrate Holy Mass, let us especially join our prayers to our Holy Father’s — and pray for peace, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
What a beautiful celebration today, as we pray for peace, as we ask for the grace to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and to renew our apostolic seal. Pentecost is our purpose!
So let’s give thanks to God today. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen his gifts within us, to really bring a new Pentecost in our lives, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and in the whole world.
And as the apostles did on that first Pentecost day, let’s pray with the Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother. May she help us to go out and be joyful witnesses of Jesus and his love. So that we can be peacemakers and renew the face of the earth.
1. Readings (Penetcost, Year A): Acts 2:1-11; Ps. 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23.
2. Rev. 21:5; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15.
3. 1 Cor. 3:16.
4. Luke 12:39.
5. Acts 1:8.
6. Eph. 4:3.