Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark a truly great feast day of the Church, that is the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday, at the fiftieth day of Easter, the culmination of our Easter celebration, and then, as the new beginning of the time of glory and service, as today also marks the birthday of the Church, the day when the Lord established His Church on earth, with the sending of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Helper to the Apostles and disciples, and the baptism of the three thousand people.
On this day, we rejoice, because God had reversed the bonds and destroyed the darkness in us, the lies of the devil and the confines of our selfish desires, and thrust upon us the undeniable and all-revealing light of truth, the very Light of our Lord Jesus Christ. God made it clear this day, by sending the Spirit of truth to dispel the darkness and the shackles of blindness that Satan and his allies has imposed on us, that is sin, desire, greed and selfishness.
If we look at the readings of the Vigil, we see in the beginning how God scattered men across the world by confusing their languages and causing divisions to appear among the people. We may think that this is something that God had done out of His anger at us, but if we look more closely at it, in fact, it was the pride and greed of mankind that had brought it upon themselves.
For since the beginning of time, men had always desired things that are often beyond their means, and as a result, they received harm instead. First, they were tempted by the devil to eat the fruits from the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil, and as a result, they received the punishment for their disobedience of the word of God. This was the first sin.
And then, they did not repent and continued to sin, and God sent the Great Flood to destroy the wickedness in the world, and to purify mankind. Only the righteous Noah and his family was spared. But yet, they continued to gather in their pride and gave in to their greed, that they endeavoured to build the highest building possible, the Tower of Babel.
And their aim was to reach out even to the heavens itself, and for their arrogance and pride, the disrespect that they showed against God, they received their just reward, and God scattered them all, to show them that God alone has the power and might, and all of us and our pride cannot stand before the might of God.
However, God did not punish and then leave us alone in suffering. Instead, He gives us chance and opportunities to change our ways and repent, and to those who do so, He gives succour from the sufferings which have been ours because of our disobedience. And that is by giving us the Spirit of truth, and the Spirit of life, so that our afflictions may be healed, and all falsehoods may be dispelled.
The disciples being able to speak many languages, is a proof of this revelation, that God would lift up the punishment from those who have willingly put themselves in the path of salvation and devote themselves to Him. The veil of darkness and the veil of ignorance and the lack of knowledge had been lifted up from them, and Wisdom itself entered into them by the Holy Spirit.
Pope St. John Paul II once said in his Papal Coronation and Enthronement ceremony, that we must not be afraid to open up the doors of our heart to the Lord. We must open wide these doors indeed, so that the Spirit of truth may come into us, dwell into us and transform us. During his visit to his country, Poland, then a Communist country oppressed by ideologies hostile to the Faith, he said, inspired by the passage from the Holy Scriptures, that may the Holy Spirit come down upon the earth and renew it thoroughly.
And today is such a perfect occasion, the coincidence that today is both Pentecost Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for another Church that is in suffering and persecution, that is the Church in China. In China, ever since the takeover by the Communist regime in 1949, the Church has been suffering in various degrees for the past almost seventy years.
And so today, we have to pray, and pray that the Lord will indeed send His Spirit and His might, that eventually our suffering brethren of the Church suffering in China, may be relieved from their burdens, and from all the oppressions that the enemies of the Faith had placed on them. Remember that it does not matter how the forces of this world try to destroy the Church and the faithful, they shall never succeed. For God will protect all those who have entrusted themselves to Him.
Just as God eventually triumphed and cast down all the oppressors of the faithful and the holy ones in Poland and beyond, the same too He will promise and do for all of His faithful persecuted no matter where it may be, and when it may be. But at the moment, the situation remains very dire, and blatant disregard and assault on the freedom of the faithful to worship the Lord freely is rampant. We need to pray for our brethren in China, that the Lord will soon deliver them from this great suffering.
This day is also a reminder for us that God has given us many gifts through the Holy Spirit, that is the fruits of the Holy Spirit, namely love, joy, patience, peace, goodness, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity and others. But these fruits will never grow if we do not cultivate and utilise the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us.
Remember what the Lord Jesus told His disciples about the fig tree that is barren? Remember what He did to it? He cursed that barren fig tree, and the fig tree which was without any edible fruits withered and died. Then in another separate occasion, Jesus told the disciples about the tree that does not bear fruit, and the farmers wanted to kill and uproot the plant, for it has no use. But the Master gives it a chance, by pruning it and giving it more fertilisers to grow, hoping that it will bear fruit.
Thus, the Lord has also done the same to us. He gave us the Holy Spirit not just as a gift for us just to be passive and wait passively for salvation. Instead, on the other hand, God gave us His Holy Spirit so that we may be actively pursuing the works which He had taught us to do, that is to love one another tenderly, to show concern for the oppressed, for the poor, sick and dying. It is also to show concern for the salvation of souls, by sincerely and truly being concerned about how the people around us are falling into hell because of what they have done.
If we do things according to God’s will, then we will bear many fruits, and the Lord who sees what we have done, and what we have produced will be satisfied and will be pleased at us. And our reward in heaven shall be rich and great. Indeed, the giving of the Holy Spirit is not just a one-off event, but a continuous call for us to work ceaselessly and act ceaselessly in accordance to the way of the Lord.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this event of Pentecost Sunday, the season of Easter may have come to an end, but this does not mean that our Easter joy should end. Rather, as I have mentioned, it is a new beginning, that just as the Church was born on this day, we too should renew our commitment to the very mission which our Lord had entrusted us, when He gave us the Spirit. This mission is for us to be the witnesses of the Lord, to be the bearers of His Good News to all the peoples of all nations.
May the Lord our God Almighty be our guide, and strengthen our resolve always to live out our lives in accordance to the truth which He had revealed to us through the gift of His Holy Spirit. Let us all also commend in our prayers today, our brethren persecuted in China, by the godless and the worldly peoples and authorities, and let us then also pray for all others persecuted for their Faith around the world, asking God that He may send His Holy Spirit to renew the whole world, and give succour to all those who are currently suffering. God be with all of us. Amen.