Sunday, 9 June 2019 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the great occasion of the Pentecost Sunday, marking the end of the fifty glorious days of Easter. On this day we mark the time when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord just as He has promised to them, giving them the courage and the strength to be witnesses to their faith in God. They received the gift of the Holy Spirit strengthening their heart and mind, body and soul.

The great celebration of Pentecost therefore also marks the beginning of the Church, as the tangible Body of Christ in this world that He Himself had established and founded upon the secure foundation and support of the Apostles. That was because the moment the Holy Spirit entered into their hearts, the Holy Spirit strengthened them and they spoke up freely of their faith and convinced many to become believers.

Three thousand people were baptised on that day alone, and that became the beginning of the Church community, which from then on began to grow and spread throughout all over Judea, and not just Judea but gradually throughout the entire Roman Empire itself and beyond. That is why, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is very important that all of us to know that Easter does not truly end with Pentecost, but in fact continues further beyond Pentecost.

The Pentecost marks a new beginning for the faithful, the continuation of the Easter joy of the Lord’s Resurrection which now becomes the expectation and the joy of looking forward to our own glorious Resurrection to come. And what is known as the Ordinary Time after this celebration of the Pentecost is in fact nothing ordinary at all, for it is the time for the work of the Church to be carried out, continuing the joy of Easter as the Lord has commanded us all.

And in the Gospel passage today, the Lord gave us all clearly His commandments through His disciples. He has once revealed His laws and commandments through Moses, in what was known as the Ten Commandments. And then, He explained and revealed more completely and fully the true meaning of the commandments by what the Lord Jesus stated to His disciples, that is the commandments of love.

It was love that the Lord showed to His people, all of us when He gave us His own Son to be our Saviour and Deliverance from our sins and death. It was love that allowed Him to bear the full weight of the Cross, the incomparably heavy and massive burden of all of our sins, enduring immense pain and suffering for the sake of our salvation. It was love that allowed Him to go through all of that, and through His love, our salvation was made whole and complete.

Yet, He continued to love us even more, sending us the Holy Spirit to be our source of strength and power, amidst the difficulties and challenges we may have to face in this world, the opposition from all those who refused to believe in God, from those who oppressed the Church and persecuted the Lord’s faithful ones. The Holy Spirit brought with Him the power of God’s own love into our midst, into our hearts, allowing the seeds of faith, hope and love in us to grow and germinate.

Yes, to all of us God has given His gifts of faith, hope and love, and the most important of these three is love. For there can be no true faith without love, and there can be no true hope without love. We believe in the love which God has for each and every one of us, and we love Him that we have faith in Him, and we hope in Him because of the love which He has evidently shown us, we can be confident that He is always by our side and will never abandon us.

And for us to grow in God’s grace and favour, we need to have love in each and every one of us. It is love for God, first and foremost before all else, which is the essence of the Commandments of God. If God has loved us all so much and gave us everything we need, life being the foremost of all gifts He has given, then how can we not love God in the same way? God ought to be at the very centre of our very lives and in everything we do.

If we love God then naturally we should also show the same love to our fellow brethren. If we do not love our fellow brothers and sisters then we cannot truly call ourselves as people who love God, because God loves each and every single one of us without exception, from the least to the greatest amongst us, from the most wicked and greatest sinners to the most pious and holy persons. Everyone is equally loved by God.

It is only through love that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will bear fruits in us, the good fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, the fruits of the Holy Spirit. If our every words, actions and deeds, our interactions with one another and indeed, our every breaths and moments are filled with love, not selfish love for ourselves but genuine love for God and for others, then naturally all those fruits of the Holy Spirit will flourish in us.

That was what the Apostles themselves had done. Their love and dedication for God, inflamed into a strong fire by the Holy Spirit has allowed them to do what was seemingly impossible and unlikely just before the moment the Holy Spirit came to them. Where there was fear and doubt in the hearts and minds of the Apostles before, so much so that they hid fearfully from the Jewish authorities, they went forth courageously afterwards filled with love for both God and for their fellow men.

That was the love which inflamed them and helped them to endure many bitter sufferings and persecutions which they and the faithful people of God had to endure, the many martyrs and saints of the Church. The same Holy Spirit was also given to the faithful by the laying of the hands, and as a result, the Holy Spirit of God has always been in the midst of the wonderful works of the Church from the very beginning until this very day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, now, it is our turn to continue the good works which God has begun in the Apostles, and we are called to follow in their footsteps, for the same Holy Spirit has been given to us at Baptism, and strengthened in us through the Sacrament of Confirmation for all of us who have received that Sacrament. And having received the Holy Spirit and God’s presence in us, are we able and willing to commit ourselves to love God and our fellow men as the Apostles had done?

Let us all contribute our effort, our time and our abilities to be part of the good works of the Church that is still ongoing in fulfilling the mission which God has entrusted to His Church, the conversion and of all of His beloved people, all of us sons and daughters of man. Let us all by our own faith, love and devotion to God become inspiration and examples for each other, and become shining models of God’s love through us, that all who see us and what we say and do, will believe in God as well.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your people, that we will be filled with courage and strength to carry out our mission with faith and conviction. Come, Holy Spirit, inflame us all with Your love and strength. Let us all go forth and continue to proclaim the joy of Easter, of Christ’s Resurrection and salvation to all the peoples, from now on and forevermore. Amen.

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