Sunday, 28 May 2023 : Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday marks the last day of the glorious and most joyful season of Easter, with this celebration of the Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday, marking the time when the Holy Spirit came down upon all the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, bestowing upon them the many gifts that God has promised, as well as the Wisdom, guidance and courage that would strengthen many of those disciples in their ministry and works, marking the moment when the Church was truly born. That is why this Pentecost celebration is sometimes also known as the ‘Birthday of the Church’ as prior to the Pentecost moment, all the disciples were filled with fear and uncertainty, hiding from the Jewish authorities and others who opposed the Lord and their works. Through the Holy Spirit, the great Advocate and Helper from the Lord, God has truly given us all the renewal and the encouragement we all needed to embark in our mission as Christians.

In our first reading today, we heard of the traditional account of the moment of the Pentecost from the Acts of the Apostles. detailing to us what happened on that day as the great tongues of flame of the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven upon all of the Apostles and the other disciples assembled in the same room, from which they immediately burst forth to proclaim courageously the truth and Good News of God to everyone who were assembled in Jerusalem for the Pentecost festival, that happened fifty days after the Passover. The Holy Spirit did not just give them the strength and courage to carry out the mission that they had been entrusted with, overcoming the fears in their hearts and minds, but also gave them the Wisdom and eloquence to speak the truth with great intellect and understanding of the truth, as well as the miraculous gift of speaking in tongues, allowing many people to understand them all at the same time.

The huge number of people who came to Jerusalem came from both the Jewish diaspora and also other foreigners who were interested to know more about the Lord, as were other travellers and people who came to enjoy the festivities, all coming from different parts of the world and speaking different languages, and yet all of them could miraculously comprehend what the disciples of the Lord were preaching to them. That is what the Holy Spirit had done upon us all as well, by bringing unto us the unity and harmony that restored our unity as one flock of the Lord, one Church of God. This unity had once been broken and shattered because of our sins and pride, our disobedience against God, like what one of the Old Testament passages from the Vigil of the Pentecost last night highlighted to us regarding the well-known story of the Tower of Babel, where human pride and arrogance led to them being scattered and their languages confused by God.

The Holy Spirit therefore came down upon us, uniting us and bringing us to once again live in harmony as one people of God, one Church, giving us the gifts to live worthily as Christians, as God’s people and to proclaim His Good News and truth to renew the world. The Holy Spirit has been given to us so that we all may carry on the missions entrusted by the Lord to His Church and disciples, to gather all the scattered people and those whom He loved from all over the whole world. Through the Holy Spirit, the Church was made tangible as the disciples no longer hid themselves but went forth with great courage to call on more and more people to turn back towards the Lord and to repent from their sins. Right from the very first day of the Church’s visible existence at Pentecost, according to the Acts of the Apostles, three thousand people chose to be baptised and therefore laid the foundations for the growing Christian community.

The Lord gave the Holy Spirit to His disciples, who then passed on the same Holy Spirit to the rest of the Church, giving all of its members, including all of us a variety of gifts and blessings, abilities and opportunities as we have heard from our second reading today, from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. Through the Holy Spirit, St. Paul mentioned that we have been given diverse and different gifts, graces and blessings, and made to be one people regardless of our origin and background. Thus, there should be no longer be discrimination or attitudes that show elitism or contempt within the Church from one to another just because a certain part or member of the Church felt that he or she is better and more pious compared to others, or more capable and worthy than their fellow brothers and sisters. All of us are equal before the Lord our God and we are equally beloved as well.

The Holy Spirit has given us all many gifts and this is what we should be reflecting on this day as we celebrate this glorious occasion, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the birthday of the Church and the end of the glorious Easter season. We must first realise that the joy and the spirit of Easter must not end with today’s celebration. Rather, we have to carry on living our Christian lives with zeal and courage, to continue doing what we have done thus far, in doing God’s will and in carrying out whatever missions and opportunities we have been given. It is also an important reminder for each one of us that we have been given different calling and vocations in life, and this means that in whatever areas and in whichever vocation that we have, we should do what we can do to glorify God and to proclaim His Good News, and more often than not, this requires us to live our Christian lives well, to be genuinely and fully faithful in our lives to God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all hence remind ourselves to let the Holy Spirit guide us and strengthen us each day and at every moments, so that we may always be good role models and sources of inspiration for one another in faith, continuing what the Lord has asked us to do, to be missionary and evangelising in our own respective communities. Let our actions, words and deeds, and our every interactions and works inspire more and more people, touch their hearts and minds so that they may come ever closer to God and that they may know the Lord and His truth better. Through all these, many more people and many more souls will come ever closer to God’s salvation, and each one of us have important parts to play in this. All of us are important in the Church’s efforts for the conversion of souls, and each one of our little actions do really matter.

May the Risen Lord be with us and His Church always, and may the Holy Spirit continue to guide and strengthen us, inflame and encourage us that we may always be firm in our faith and actions, and do our best to reach out to others with exemplary and shining faith in God. May the Holy Spirit lead us and help us to serve God ever more courageously and may all of us be strengthened in all things, now and always, forevermore. Come, Holy Spirit and renew the face of the Earth, and come to bless and strengthen us, give us the courage and desire to continue to do God’s will, at all times. Amen.

Sunday, 28 May 2023 : 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.”

Sunday, 28 May 2023 : 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.

Sunday, 28 May 2023 : 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.