Our great feast this weekend is the Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles in the upper room. Our first reading illustrates this spectacular event for one and all. The apostles cannot hide from the Holy Spirit. It clearly is the Holy Spirit who is coming to them in that upper room. WE also witness how the effects of the fire and wind do them no harm but certainly inspire them to feel the Spirit. They appear to be stunned by this special presence in the room. This first reading dramatically tells us that there is no getting away from the Holy Spirit. It is in light of the Holy Spirit that all barriers of understanding and language disappear. Every single disciple in the room understood that this spirit is holy and brings with it charity, kindness and unity. This spirit is the appearance of God’s grace and presence to everyone there, without exception.
By custom in those days thousands of Jewish people came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish harvest feast of Pentecost. In our story from Acts this coming of the Spirit tells us that a different harvest is expected in the future. This Spirit which had been with the kings of Israel, and given to others such as John the Baptist now came to the disciples and formed a particular people. “We were all given to drink of one Spirit,” Paul reminds us in today’s second reading. Clearly, after Pentecost, the problems of the early community did not melt away or disappear. The early Church grew and as with all human life complications, questions, and conflicts, it called for resolution.
Our reading from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians is quite intense in nature in this passage. It appears that the people are fighting among themselves and have lost their sense of unity. They are divided by Jew or Gentile, free or slave, ethnicity, class, social positions or income. These people supposedly follow the one Lord and also drink of one Spirit and in addition share one faith. They say they want to follow Jesus, but they heard of Jesus either from Apollo, Paul or Cephas. They are actually following a preacher of Jesus and not the Lord Jesus. They need to be reminded of their unity and their source of unity in the Spirit. They forget that they are not simply people seeking to do good works (which is noble and good of its own), but they are followers of Jesus empowered by the Spirit to perform good works. The source of their life is the Holy Spirit in whom they dwell and must always try to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We must also recognize that from the Gospel of this weekend, this Spirit is a Spirit of for-giveness. In our Gospel story, Jesus comes to his sad, confused, and frightened apostles who do not know which way to turn. He offers them a greeting of peace and then gives them a purpose, a mission. Although they are beaten down and profoundly discouraged, they are to perform their mission by, through, with and in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Note in this passage that Jesus passes on the very breath of his life, the Holy Spirit to them. We also at our Confirmation re-ceive the “breath of Jesus” in the form of the Holy Spirit. We are also sent forth by Jesus for the purpose of living a Way and Life of Faith that brings others to Him.
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