Pentecost Sunday
May 23, 2015 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Pentecost is the feast of communion, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit that brought us into new communion with God.

After the Ascension, the Apostles went to the Cenacle, where they remained, pondering the mysterious words of Jesus: “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn 16:7). They were united in prayer with Mary, waiting for the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise: “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14).

In today’s Gospel, we see the Apostles in the Cenacle with the doors locked because they were afraid of persecutions.

Both after the death of Jesus and after the Ascension, the Apostles remained in the Upper Room. In both instances, the absence of Jesus paralyzed them. They did not know how to deal with it and were waiting for something.

The unforeseen happened! A few days after Jesus had died on the Cross, he appeared to them and said: “Peace be with you.” Then he sent them out from the room to the world: “‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn 20: 21–22). As Jesus bestowed the gift of the Holy Spirit, he pushed the Apostles out of the Upper Room, sending them on their mission.

On the day of the Feast of Pentecost, while the Apostles were again in the Cenacle, suddenly a strong driving wind came from the sky and tongues of fire descended on them: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues” (Acts 2: 4). They came out of the room and proclaimed the good news in many different languages.

The Holy Spirit is a spirit of communication. He instills us with a new dynamism of openness that propels us outside ourselves and our narrow horizons. The Holy Spirit introduces us to the experience of communion with God, with others and with all things. He introduces us to new dimensions of reality. He breaks through our isolation and conquers our loneliness.

In the second reading, St. Paul says: “Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). To live by the Spirit means to live according to the new dynamic of love that Christ brought to the world. To gratify the desire of the flesh means to remain enclosed within the narrow limits of ourselves.

Our technological civilization creates the sensation that we are increasingly close to one another. The development of means of communication has drastically reduced geographical distances. We feel that we are always in touch with people. Social networking allows us to connect with many people. We can legitimately ask whether or not we are in greater communion with others through the new technologies.

It is an illusion to think that we are less alone because we carry smartphones everywhere, even in the church! Virtual communication is not the same as direct communication. There is the risk that technology can lock us into our own worlds. In order to encounter the other, we need to be available and not distracted. What happens is that people are always distracted, continuously checking their devices and not paying attention to the person in front of them. I quit using my smartphone on the day I realized that my first activity in the morning was to look at the screen instead of the beautiful sunrise outside my window.

We need to go outside of ourselves. We need to go beyond our narrow selves. Reality is infinitely greater than our small worlds. We need more than to be entertained; we need to be surprised.

The Holy Spirit is surprise without end. He always acts in an unforeseen way. “Precisely because the Spirit acts in this way,” as Pope Benedict said, “he ushers us into the whole truth, which is Jesus, and guides us to look at it more deeply and to understand it. We do not grow in knowledge by locking ourselves into our own ego but only in an attitude of profound inner humility do we become capable of listening and sharing in the ‘we’ of the Church.”

The disciples assembled in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Like them, let us pray with Our Lady. Let us ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us live by the Spirit.

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