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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.

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