First reading: Acts 2:1–11
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
Second reading: 1 Cor. 12:3b–7,12–13
Brothers and sisters: No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Gospel: Jn. 20:19–23
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. 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. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
In other words Fr. Abs Borja, SVD (Jerusalem)
“‘Holy Spirit’ is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son. ‘Spirit’ and ‘Holy’ are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit, without any possible equivocation with other uses of the terms ‘spirit’ and ‘holy’” (CCC, no. 691). The presence of the Holy Spirit can be perceived as an outside and inside force.
Outside force. In Acts 2:1–12, Luke narrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. He describes him as a “strong driving wind” and “tongues as of fire.” These images recall the “mighty wind hovering over the face of the waters” at the time of creation (Gen. 1:2) and the “fire of the Lord” that consumed the sacrifice at Mount Carmel as God’s response to Elijah’s prayer (1 Kgs. 18:38). Wind and fire are symbols of God’s dynamic power that transforms circumstances or conditions.
The “strong driving wind” that eventually turned into “tongues as of fire” empowered the apostles to speak in different languages and proclaim God’s word that became understandable to all. This phenomenon conveys that God’s message of love is for all to hear, and his kingdom extends to everyone. Many of those who witnessed the event recognized it as the mighty acts of God but, sadly, others simply denied it and accused the apostles of being drunk. While the active presence of God becomes evident, still some refuse to acknowledge it.
Inside force. In John 20:19–32, the Evangelist recounts how the disciples received the Holy Spirit. Jesus “breathed” the Holy Spirit upon them. Jesus’ act recalls the beginning of human life when “God breathed” the “breath of life” into the nostrils of the man who was formed out of dust. Thus, man “became a living being” (Gen. 2:7), fully alive to enjoy a relationship with God and other created beings. God’s breath is a life-giving power.
After Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit, he also said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (Jn. 20:23). Sin is a failure to do what is right; it is a violation of God’s commandments. The life-giving power of the Holy Spirit, at work through ordained ministers of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, heals and reestablishes broken relationships with God and neighbor. It transforms and renews from within each person and the community of believers.
Let us pray. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. Amen.