Emerging from the Shadows
Gospel Reflection on Pentecost Sunday
Fr. Binu Scaria, SDB
A child picks up a small bird that has fallen from its nest. He makes his hand into a nest to keep it from falling and doing further damage to itself. But he does not make his hand into a cage, for he has no intention of possessing the bird or turning it into a pet. Having reassured the bird that it is in safe hands, he slowly raises it up and up. Then, when the moment is right, he releases it. He rejoices when it succeeds in keeping itself aloft, and he is happier still when it flies off. That is what love does.
Holy Spirit, The spirit of Jesus, on Pentecost Day, released the apostles from the prison of the upper room, and they went forth with courage to do the work of Jesus. Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles, and how as a result of that coming they went out to preach the Gospel to all the world. It is a mistake to see this coming as something that happened once and that can never happen again. Through the prayer of the Church, the Holy Spirit comes to his people this morning. And how much we need him. We are weak and cowardly, lazy and selfish. Let us dispose ourselves to receive the Spirit.
In the first reading we have an account of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles on Pentecost Day and the effects of that coming on them. In the Acts of the Apostles the event of the Pentecost is recounted with the use of the symbols of rushing wind and descending fire. The external and physical manifestations of rushing wind and tongues of fire that accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit were all phenomena that revealed an experience of God. We recall the thunder that accompanied God’s revelation at Sinai (Ex.19:16) and God’s revelation to Moses at the Burning bush (ex 3;2). While these manifestations were audible and visible the actual outpouring the Holy Spirit was not. The Pentecost even was a clear manifestation of the universal transforming presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It is a reversal of the division and disunity in the incident at the tower of Babel (Gen 11,1-9). At Pentecost by the power of the Holy Spirit, the human race was reunited and gathered into the reign of God. Unity was affirmed in the midst of diversity.
In the second reading St. Paul tells us that People have different gifts, but it is the same Spirit who gives these various gifts for the building up of the Christian community, which is the Body of Christ.
The gospel passage from John is about Jesus who breathes the Holy Spirit upon his apostles, a Spirit of forgiveness and of peace. The beginning of the week refers not only to Sunday but a new beginning. The resurrection of Jesus and the bestowal of the Holy Spirit gave new beginning for the disciples
Looking into the nature we see new life. In the fields, patches of green are appearing, new patches on an old garment. But, given time, spring will weave a completely new garment. Yet spring is only a facilitator. It doesn’t make anything happen. It merely creates the climate in which things can grow. We too need to grow, to grow as human beings and children of God. But growth is slow and painful. We do not easily let go of the old garment, woven out of old habits and attitudes. But we have been given a wonderful Facilitator, namely, the Holy Spirit so that we can have a new beginning.
The Spirit awakens us to the mysterious power within us, bids us live, and helps us grow. The Spirit helps us discover our true selves. Thus we emerge from our shadows to shine like the Son. Let us ask the Lord to send forth his spirit and renew the face of the earth. That we may be renewed and recreated to live our life in its fullness. Happy feast of Pentecost.