PENTECOST SUNDAY: JOHN 20: 19-23
Today, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, it is celebrated as the birthday of the Church, the day when the Holy Spirit came to the apostles and breathed energy into their faith. It celebrates the day when the apostles were strengthened by the Holy Spirit and accepted the mission entrusted to them by Jesus, to bring the message of God’s love and salvation to all nations. The Holy Spirit works within us to help us recognize the hand of God in our lives and to help inspire us to see the blessings we receive.
For fifteen months we have been dealing with the coronavirus. We have made a habit of frequent handwashing to remain clean and uncontaminated. We have done this because health authorities and government-mandated have instructed us on employing daily practices to help minimize the spread of the virus from person to person contact.
As I was thinking and meditating on the Holy Spirit, I had this thought: The most important Sanitizer is the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the one we need to cleanse our hearts and spiritual hands. We all need spiritual cleansing of our hearts and hands to keep clean and safe. Today our challenge is asking ourselves the question: How have I cleansed my heart and my hands this morning? The heart and hands are the active parts of our spiritual life and health. We all need both a physical and spiritual washing. One done with hand sanitizer, the other with The Sacrament of the Confession. Most of our liturgies have, in the beginning, a time of confession and an assurance of pardon. We acknowledge our individual sins, the times when we acted without love, and the times when we failed to act with love. We can sanitize our own hands, but only the Holy Spirit can sanitize our sin. We can ask the Holy Spirit to sanitize our souls.
Many of us are familiar with the popular TV program, Extreme Makeover. In this program, common people are given the opportunity to undergo cosmetic surgery to help them look better and glamorous. This “makeover” process promises to make people happy – to help them look prettier, feel better about themselves, and be more “presentable.” Even though appearance is so important in our world, to look beautiful, we wear the right and fashionable clothes, but this is not what life is all about.
Pentecost is about another type of “extreme makeover”- a type of “transformation,” a spiritual transformation – from spiritual ugliness to spiritual beauty, from spiritual deformation to spiritual transformation. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to “transform” us and change us. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of action. We receive the Spirit not to keep 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 the presence of The Holy Spirit within us.
In the gospel reading, we have seen that the disciples closed themselves in the upper room with the doors locked, confused, and fearful. The Holy Spirit descended and gave them courage. They became united and fearless, with a clear sense of their call from God.
We, too, have been strengthened by the grace of The Holy Spirit. We can come out from our own “upper rooms” 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 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 be renewed by The Spirit and open ourselves to God’s presence and power and become vessels of grace, peace, and reconciliation!