Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday marking the moment when the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples of the Lord, descending from the Heavens like great tongues of fire that rested on each of them. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples great strength and courage, and they went forth out of their hiding place in Jerusalem, and openly preached the truth about the salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ to all the people assembled in Jerusalem at that time.

The people assembled there coming from very diverse places as far as Ethiopia, Parthia and even Rome and the distant provinces came from many different backgrounds, both those from the Jewish diaspora and Gentiles alike. They all spoke various different and intelligible languages. Yet, the moment the disciples spoke to them and give testimony of truth about Christ, they all could understand what these disciples were speaking about, and they seemed to hear them speaking in their own diverse languages.

The Holy Spirit gave the disciples the gift of speaking in tongues, and to some they have also been given the gift of miracles and power over evil spirits, allowing them to heal the sick and perform various other miracles. And through their testimony, sincerity and faith, it was told that the very day of the Pentecost itself, three thousand people gave themselves to be baptised by the Lord, and from then on, the Church began to grow and flourish. This is also why the celebration of the Pentecost marked the beginning of the Church, and we mark and celebrate it as the Anniversary of this Church that we all belong to.

From that day onwards, the disciples were no longer afraid and in hiding, and they finally went forth to fulfil the commandments and the mission that the Lord had entrusted to them. The Church was no longer something hidden but went forth into the world actively proclaiming the Lord and His Good News that still remain true even to this very day. The Holy Spirit has guided the path of the Church and its leaders from then on, leading the Apostles and their successors, the Popes, bishops and priests throughout the many centuries and ages past to the present day.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we reflect on the wondrous gift of the Holy Spirit by the Lord, we are all called to remember our baptismal Covenant with God, and the mission entrusted to each and every one of us, the same mission we all share because of our common baptism. The Holy Spirit has been given to us, and as St. Paul mentioned it in our second reading today, there are various gifts of the Holy Spirit, the wonders, the talents and abilities that have been entrusted to us and awaiting for us to make use of these for the good of all.

And because we have been given the Holy Spirit, all of us are then expected to be fruitful and be bountiful in the Holy Spirit, bearing plenty of rich outcomes as we live our lives in accordance with the will of God and making good use of the talents and gifts that we have received. What are these fruits of the Holy Spirit and how can we then make good use of these gifts to be dedicated as Christians? They are the nine fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are the great virtues that all of us Christians should have with us, and which we should cultivate in our lives.

First of all, love lies at the hearts of all Christians, as we cannot call ourselves as Christians unless we know love and unless we know how to love and love sincerely. St. Paul himself had written that even if he were to know the language of Angels and have various other talents and wonders, but without love, then all those things would be meaningless. It was God’s love that allowed Him to be patient with us and to seek us out constantly, even when we continue to disobey Him and distance ourselves from Him. And His love has been manifested completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, born into this world and One Who died for us out of love, that by His suffering and death, He may bring all of us out of the darkness of sin and death, and lead us into eternal life.

And therefore, just as the Lord Himself has loved us so dearly and wonderfully, we too are called to follow in the footsteps of Our Lord, to love without condition and sincerely, to all those who are around us, to our friends and relatives, our family members and even those whom we encounter daily in life, acquaintances and even strangers. We are all challenged to show love not only for ourselves, but also for God, first and foremost, and then also for our fellow brothers and sisters, all those whom we meet in life, and we are challenged by the Lord to show love even to our enemies, as He Himself said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’

The second fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy, and joy is something that is lacking in our community and in so many among us these days. I know that during this time with the pandemic still raging and flaring up again and again in various parts of the world, the numerous disruptions and negative effects it had on our communities and livelihood, it is very difficult for us to be joyful. Yet, as Christians, we should be the source of joy for one another even during this difficult time. And why should we be joyful when all these misfortunes and terrible things are happening to us? That is because we have faith in God and we believe that no matter what, God will always be by our side, and He shall always have our back at all times. We rejoice because no matter what happens and no matter how bad things can be, in the end, as long as we remain firmly faithful in God, we will triumph.

Then, the next fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace. As Christians we must believe in peace and we are all called to be the bearers of God’s peace in our community. There are also plenty of conflicts that had been happening this past few months alone as tensions rose up between countries and peoples, exacerbated by the current pandemic situation and all the instabilities it caused. Those conflicts also came to be as a result of mankind’s greed and unbridled desires, their pride and ego, and their pursuit for power and glory. That is why, as Christians we should show through action that we should uphold peace above conflict, and do our best to reconcile ourselves and also be intermediaries for others who disagree and are in conflict.

Then comes the fruit of patience. As Christians we have to know patience, much as Our Lord Himself has shown us so much patience all these while, despite our various infidelities and wickedness. God still cared for us and loved us, and He also patiently tried again and again to call us and to lead us to return to the right path. All of us are called to be patient in life as well, and if necessary to endure with faith all the challenges, trials and difficulties that we may have to endure as we continue to live our lives faithfully as Christians in each and every moments of our lives.

Then the fruits of kindness and goodness, which must have been self-explanatory, that as Christians, we ought to have empathy and concern for others, that in all the things we say and do, we will always have consideration for others, our fellow brothers and sisters, in our minds. We should always strive to be good as well, which means that we are all called to a life of virtue, a life of obedience to the will of God. We should always show kindness in our every actions and be as true Christians in all things, resisting the temptations to sin and to do what is against God’s teachings and against His will.

And as Christians, we are all called to have strong and genuine faith in the Lord, the fruit of faithfulness in the Holy Spirit. That means we should truly believe in all the things that we profess to have faith in, and not just merely paying lip service or being outwardly pious and yet inside, God has no true place within our hearts. To be truly faithful to the Lord is not an easy task, brothers and sisters in Christ, for it will require us to commit ourselves wholeheartedly and to dedicate our time, effort and more to serve the Lord through our lives.

Lastly, the two fruits of gentleness and self-control are important reminders for all of us to live a life of virtue and faith, not controlled by our own desires and the allures of worldly pleasures. This is why we should not be quick-tempered or easy to give in to anger and pride, and we have to overcome the temptations of our flesh, which could derail our path towards God and His salvation. We are all called to focus our attention instead on the Lord and always contemplate on His ways and truth, rather than listening to the temptations of our pride and desire.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost today, let us all remember that Pentecost is not merely just the end of the season of Easter. On the contrary, it marks a new beginning for the Church, which as mentioned, back then, the disciples were strengthened and encouraged by the gift of the Holy Spirit descending on them. Then are we going to follow in their footsteps, brothers and sisters? Are we also going to proclaim our faith courageously and dedicate ourselves and our time to the best of our abilities from now on?

This is our calling and mission as Christians, and we should embrace them wholeheartedly, if we have not done so yet. Let us all be part of the Church’s mission to reach out to more and more people, and to call on more to follow the Lord, to be His faithful witnesses, guided by the Holy Spirit with our various and diverse gifts and abilities, that we may indeed bear rich fruits of the Holy Spirit and become great inspirations to one another in faith. Come, o Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in us the fire of Your love. Amen.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 20 : 19-23

At that time, on the evening of the day when Jesus rose from the dead, the first day after the Sabbath, the doors were locked where the disciples were, because of their fear of the Jews. But Jesus came, and stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you!” Then He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples kept looking at the Lord and were full of joy.

Again Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

Alternative reading

John 15 : 26-27 and John 16 : 12-15

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “From the Father, I will send you the Spirit of truth. When this Helper has come from the Father, He will be My witness, and you, too, will be My witnesses, for you have been with Me from the beginning. I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now. When He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into the whole truth.”

“For He will not speak of His own authority, but will speak what He hears, and He will tell you about the things which are to come. He will take what is Mine and make it known to you; in doing this, He will glorify Me. All that the Father has is Mine; for this reason, I told you that the Spirit will take what is Mine, and make it known to you.”

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 Corinthians 12 : 3b-7, 12-13

No one can say, “Jesus is the Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There is diversity of gifts, but the Spirit is the same. There is diversity of ministries, but the Lord is the same. There is diversity of works, but the same God works in all.

The Spirit reveals His presence in each one with a gift that is also a service. As the body is one, having many members, and all the members, while being many, form one body, so it is with Christ. All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptised in one Spirit to form one body and all of us have been given to drink from the one Spirit.

Alternative reading

Galatians 5 : 16-25

Therefore, I say to you : walk according to the Spirit and do not give way to the desires of the flesh! For the desires of the flesh war against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are opposed to the flesh. Both are in conflict with each other, so that you cannot do everything you would like. But when you are led by the Spirit you are not under the Law.

You know what comes from the flesh : fornication, impurity and shamelessness, idol worship and sorcery, hatred, jealousy and violence, anger, ambition, division, factions, and envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. I again say to you what I have already said : those who do these things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy and peace, patience, understanding of others, kindness and fidelity, gentleness and self-control. For such things there is no law or punishment. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its vices and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us live in a spiritual way.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 103 : 1ab and 24ac, 29bc-30, 31 and 34

Bless the Lord, my soul! Clothed in majesty and splendour; How varied o Lord, are Your works! The earth full of Your creatures.

You take away their breath, they expire and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit, they are created, and the face of the earth is renewed.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works! May my song give Him pleasure, as the Lord gives me delight.

Sunday, 23 May 2021 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Acts 2 : 1-11

When the day of Pentecost came, the disciples of Jesus were all together in one place. And suddenly out of the sky came a sound like a strong rushing wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared tongues as if of fire which parted and came to rest upon each one of them. All were filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

Staying in Jerusalem were religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered, all excited because each heard them speaking in his own language. Full of amazement and wonder, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that we hear them in our own native language?”

“Here are Parthians, Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and foreigners who accept Jewish beliefs, Cretians and Arabians; and all of us hear them proclaiming in our own language what God, the Saviour, does.”