CAMINANDO WITH JESUS: Pentecost Sunday
Jesus said to his disciples, ”When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
- John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Has it ever happened to you that you can't find the phone you have in your hand? The keys that you carry in your pocket? The glasses you're wearing? For many of us, it is normal for these type of things to happen. Sometimes we have so many things in our head—emotions, concerns, things to do—that it’s easy for us to get distracted and not see the obvious.
Today's celebration of Pentecost is one of the most important holidays for both Jews and Christians. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek and means "fifty." For the Jews, if you lived within 20 miles of Jerusalem, you were required by law to participate in this feast. This was a date when all would give thanks to God for the products of the harvests. In addition, they also gave thanks to God for two additional moments that were very important for the history of salvation of the people of Israel: first, the covenant that God made with Noah, 50 days after the flood, and, second, the covenant that God made with Moses 50 days after the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt towards the promised land.
Pentecost for Christians is the time to celebrate the day when the Holy Spirit descended and dwelt in the disciples and in the Virgin Mary as tongues of fire. This event happened 50 days after Easter. For many it is also the beginning of the Christian Church, after Peter preached and converted more than 3000 Jews to the Christian faith.
The first reading of this Sunday, taken from chapter two of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, presents us with a narrative of what happened during that feast of Pentecost around nine in the morning, while the disciples were gathered. A loud noise and a strong wind were the preamble for what was to happen to the apostles. Tongues of fire appeared on each one of them—and that was not the most important event that day; the greatest miracle occurred when people approached the room where the disciples were gathering and heard them speaking in different languages —and everyone could understand them.
The feast of Pentecost is not only a feast of what happened years ago to the disciples but also a feast of what continues to happen in the Church today. The gospel we have just heard reminds us of the Christian vocation to which we are called, with the words "receive the Holy Spirit, whoever you forgive their sins will be forgiven." It reminds us we are called to love and forgive, just as we are loved, and we are forgiven. While it is true that this text reminds us of the sacrament of reconciliation, it is also true that it is an invitation for everyone, not just for clergy.
For our meditation and reflection this Sunday, on the feast of the Pentecost, let us first of all remember and be aware that the gift of the Holy Spirit is something we have already received on the day of our baptism and the day of our confirmation. This Spirit is already in us, so perhaps we should set aside time for our prayer and connection with God to be able to rediscover Him, listen to His voice within us and allow ourselves to be guided by Him.
On a second note, we are called to learn to forgive others through the power of the Spirit. At some point someone has misbehaved with us, someone has hurt us, someone has offended us or accused us falsely, etc. For some of us, the easiest thing is to turn the page and say that it no longer hurts; others are just indifferent and prefer not to speak or communicate with that person. We hear expressions such as "I forgive, but I do not forget," "I forgive you, but I do not want to hear from you again," "I am nobody to forgive you; may God forgive you" and many others.
But we need to remember forgiveness is about giving an opportunity to re-establish communion with the other person. I'm not saying we must necessarily return to the relationship we had previously but be open to listening, understanding and having mercy on each other. Of course, this doesn’t happen immediately, but it’s a process.
Finally, to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit is also an invitation to act on behalf of others. Share with others the love and blessings we have received from God. I understand all this is not necessarily easy, but, just like Saint Paul tells us in the second reading, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and also teaches us to pray properly. Today we can ask God for the grace of being able to share with others a little bit of the many blessings we have received from God. Amen.
The Rev. Samuel Borbón is the associate missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministry and program development for The Episcopal Church.
Tags: Caminando with Jesus