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Friday, May 25, 2012


John 20:19-23

Podcast: Australian Catholic Radio Online

          The Pentecost is the birthday of the Church! The coming of the Holy Spirit marked a new milieu in the history of salvation which we call the Era of the Holy Spirit.  There are many different traditions that describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit:  St. Luke based on the charismatic tradition, places the event fifty days after Easter  (hence the root word penta which is 50) and dramatizes it in the external giving of gifts to the disciples as reflected in the tongues of fire (the first reading this Sunday: Acts 2).  On the other hand, St. John presents the Pentecost on the basis of the wisdom tradition right after the Resurrection.  Symbolically it happened when the side of Jesus was pierced with a lance and blood and water comes out (Jn 19:31-37).  Both St. Luke and St. John are describing the same event in different perspectives with different details but the same theology.
         Originally the Pentecost was a Jewish feast which was the grain harvest celebrated on the fiftieth day  after the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai.  St. Luke places the Pentecost on the same day  replacing the Jewish feast now with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. And because the Pentecost was one of the Jewish feasts wherein a Jew should go to the Temple in Jerusalem, there were thousands who witnessed the Pentecost.
         St. Luke symbolizes the coming of the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire that lodged on the head of the disciples.  We use fire (or light) to symbolize a beginning: the creation of light in Genesis, blessing of new fire on Easter Vigil, a lit candle on the cake during birthdays, etc.  The Pentecost was the beginning of the new creation which started with the Church represented by the disciples.  The tongues of fire also meant the enlightenment of disciples with infused gifts in order to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations.  The mission of Jesus has been entrusted anew to the Church to make disciples of all peoples.
         St. John symbolizes the Holy Spirit with breath both on the cross and the Pentecost.   Just as God blew His divine breath on the lump of clay in Genesis in creating man, so now Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on the disciples to usher in the creation of the New Humanity which is the Church.  Since after the creation of the first man, sin came and humanity fell, this time Christ empowers the Church to re-create man if ever he falls again in sin.  This is why Christ instituted the Sacrament of  Reconciliation (Confession) as a gift during the Pentecost.
         The Holy Spirit was given to us when we were baptized and we were fortified with the gifts of the same Spirit when we were confirmed. Two signs that the Holy Spirit is with us are our breath (He continues to breathe His divine breath on us hence he continues to re-create us.) and the warmth of our bodies (He empowers us with His fire hence we continue to live.) 
         To those who find it hard to understand the Holy Spirit, take  some few moments of silence and feel Him in our breath and in our warm bodies.  Truly we are the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, May 18, 2012




         After a day’s work, a trip or a journey, a holiday, we always long for home.  When we reach home, we say “home sweet home.”  Home is not just where our heart is, but where we can be ourselves and with our loved ones, our family or our beloved!
          Ascension is Jesus’ grand homecoming!  In the mystery of the Incarnation we could say that like a “prodigal son” “He left His Father’s House” and by becoming man like us, He entered into time and space.  In His condescension as a human being the Creator experienced how to be a creature.  He did all these because of a mission: to inaugurate the Kingdom of God and to let man know that he is heir to that Kingdom.   Since the beginning of the existence of man, he did not know for sure where he was going after death.  The religions before Christianity could only offer some directions towards the after-life.  Some of the beliefs in the after-life are manifested in the creation of the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the terracotta warriors in China, the temples in South America and many others.  Some religions propose a transformation of being like becoming part of the cosmos, reincarnation, or simply going into a state of pure consciousness. 
         Jesus’ Ascension was both an historical and a transcendental event.  It is historical because it happened in a specific time in history; transcendental because it is an event that pierces beyond time.  Historical in a sense that it was the end of His life as a human being; transcendental in a sense that it was the beginning of another kind of time which we call Kairos (a blessed time)!
         Ascension was the final exaltation of Jesus after fulfilling the mission given Him by His Father. He could say “Father, mission accomplished!”  In the same way before His Ascension, He also gave the same mission to His apostles: “Proclaim the Gospel to all the nations!”  This mission will be accompanied by signs which we call charisms.  It is through these charisms that the giftedness of the Church will be manifested through the Holy Spirit in the work of the believers. This is the reason why each one of us has been gifted with charisms, some have more, others have less, depending on the mission entrusted to the person.  They are gifts to us but they are meant to be shared. It is only by fulfilling this mission that a disciple will be able to prove himself worthy of being an heir of the Kingdom.
         The first lesson I learned in my catechesis class when I was seven years old was: Why did God create me?  There are three reasons:  1) To know God 2) To love Him and 3) To be with Him forever.
         When our timeline is over, it is not the end but just the beginning of life beyond time where we can be truly home with God who is our Father.  But just like Jesus, we still have to fulfill our mission after which we could also say “Mission accomplished!”  And we will hear the Father say “Welcome home!”