PENTECOST SUNDAY: JOHN 20: 19-23
Pentecost Day was Inauguration of the Church and the Birthday of the Church. It celebrates the day when the apostles were strengthened by the Holy Spirit and accepted the mission handed over to them by Jesus, that of bringing the message of God’s love and salvation to all nations.
In the gospel, John tells us that after Jesus’ death the disciples were so afraid of the Jews that they locked themselves in the upper room out of fear and confusion. For “fifty days”, the disciples were in “locked down” mode. Because of the COVID- 19 we are in the “locked down” mode and have completed more than 60 days. The disciples were in “lock down” because they were afraid of Jews; now we are in “locked down” because we are afraid of coronavirus.
The interesting thing we can notice that just like each of us, the disciples also broke their ‘lock down’ time: Two of Jesus disciples traveled from Jerusalem to Emmaus and Jesus appeared to them and walked with them but they did not recognize Jesus. Again, we can see that Peter and companions broke their ‘lock down’ and went fishing. After many hours of fishing they did not catch anything. Jesus appeared to them and called out, “Put you net on the right-side of the boat and you will get some.” Then again, we see the Apostle Thomas, being tired of ‘lock down’ and he went outside alone and in doing so he missed when Jesus appeared to the other disciples.
And then, Surprise! Into their isolation and ‘lock down’ Jesus came into the midst of the disciples as if to say, “Your lockdown is completed and I will send you the Holy Spirit and give you the gift of Peace and Forgiveness and the courage to leave your isolation and fear behind and go and announce the good news.” The Spirit transformed them and gave them courage. They became united and fearless, with a clear sense of their call from God.
Nowadays, there are three things often we hear from the government leaders and the health authorities to maintain social distancing, to wear a facemask and to wash our hands with sanitizer. These are all very important during this challenging time of the COVID- 19. I would say the most important “sanitizer” is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one we need to wash our hearts and spiritual hands!
The gift of the Holy Spirit is with us to make us agents of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness. Our challenge is to respond and be open to the Holy Spirit and live out the Pentecost in everyday life. We receive the Spirit not to keep it to ourselves but to use and share with others. The Holy Spirit is like a costly perfume, the perfume of “true love,” which cannot be confined to one room; it reaches out and touches the whole house. On this solemn feast day, we are invited to experience and appreciate the transforming, sanctifying, and strengthening presence of The Holy Spirit within us.
We, too, have been strengthened by the grace of The Holy Spirit. We can come out from our own “upper rooms” and “locked doors of our hearts” of fear, confusion, selfishness, and pride. We all have sat in this “upper room,” when we felt that our relationships were breaking or loved ones were lost. Life is filled with “upper room” moments. The gift of The Spirit from God calms our anxieties, fears, and worries. Let us check the doors of our own upper rooms. Are the doors open or are we hiding our faith where no one can challenge us on it? Are we experiencing Pentecost in our everyday lives? Let us follow the words of St. Mother Teresa, “There is only one purpose of Pentecost; that is to effectively evangelize lost souls.”