The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Solemnity of the Pentecost, 09 June 2019
Acts 2:1-11 >< }}}*> Romans 8:8-17 >< }}}*> John 14:15-16, 23-26
Today we close the Easter Season.
After the last Mass tonight in every parish, the Paschal Candle is extinguished and from the ambo where it had stayed since the Easter Vigil, it is brought back to the baptistry to signal the start of Ordinary Time tomorrow.
As we have been reflecting these past days, life is a series of coming than of leaving. This is very true in today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Pentecost: when Jesus ascended into heaven last Sunday, the Holy Spirit now comes to fire up the disciples to continue God’s presence in the world. Last Sunday we said the Ascension does not mean Jesus going to a particular place “up there” but his entry into a higher level of relating with us. Today is the fulfillment of that promise he made, that he would remain with us until the end of time in the power of the Holy Spirit sent by the Father.
Pentecost means fifty. After God handed to Moses the Ten Commandments at Sinai, the Israelites ratified that covenant 50 days after. Eventually when they entered the Promised Land, Pentecost became an agricultural celebration of their harvests that eventually extended into a celebration of weeks. When the Holy Spirit came on that Pentecost day in Jerusalem, it became the “coming out party” of the Church when the Apostles were emboldened to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone.
In this evolution of the Pentecost from Sinai to Promised Land to the early Church, it has remained true to its essence as life in God. As such, we must keep in mind it is not an isolated event in the past but a reality we must allow to happen every day in our lives. If there is one thing very much missing in the Church these days, it is the Holy Spirit. We need a “perennial Pentecost” to fill us with life and zest in living the Gospel, from the bishops to the priests to every baptized Catholic. See the vibrancy among other Christian denominations. They are so alive while we Catholics as so rigid and lethargic. We need to be “fired up” by the burning fire of the Holy Spirit everyday. It is Pentecost or nothing!
Above the Chair of St. Peter at the Vatican is a stained glass depicting the coming of the Holy Spirit like a dove. According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, that is in essence the Church which is like a window where God and man get in contact. At the middle of that meeting point or contact of God and man is the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we can never be in touch with God and with others. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of love that binds us all with each other and with God in the same manner it unites the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity to remain as One God. This explains why we heard again today the Gospel three Sundays ago of Jesus teaching about love at the Last Supper.
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep the commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to be with you always. Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”John 14:15-16, 23
These words are repeated today to present to us the new and definite context of the Pentecost flowing from that Last Supper discourse of Jesus about love, keeping his commandments, and coming of the Holy Spirit.
During his Last Supper, Jesus clearly showed that in the new covenant sealed by his blood, the Law is more than the personification of God: obedience to his commandments and to the Father is first of all an expression of love. Jesus is the new Torah, the new law of love found in his oneness with the Father. On this Pentecost Sunday, we hear again the Last Supper discourse of Jesus to remind us that being Christian is becoming united as one in him as “indwelling of the Father and the Son.”
That can only happen when we allow ourselves to be small. See that at the Ascension, we were presented with an upward movement that called for the need to be light and powerless in order to rise above. Now, Pentecost’s downward movement shows us the need to be small in order to be mixed or fused with God and with others. Every downward push leads to spreading out, of thinning out, of getting small.
As limited beings, our greatness can only be found in our ability to share, to be small to participate and become a part of a larger whole. In our very selves, we cannot do anything. I am so amused to realize this basic truth while watching those crime shows in Netflix like Narcos and Bad Blood where even the most evil men need to be small, to band together to be powerful. We all need conversion which is very essential to be truly great!
For true conversion to happen, there has to be love, even at least, an openness to love. It is no wonder that love is always presented in the fiery shades of red and orange because almost everything is purified and broken into little particles by fire. When love is intense, expect fire to be hotter with its hues of red and orange more aglow. Only when we are willing to be subjected to love’s purifying fire can we be truly filled with the Holy Spirit and its gifts, particularly joy.
Conversion and love demand constant dying into one’s self, of living in the spirit and not in flesh that St. Paul explained in the second reading. We can never be one in Christ without conversion, without getting off our ivory tower of pride and arrogance. We need to go down, if we have to lie face down, so be it. Most of all, oneness with others is impossible without conversion because we cannot insist on ourselves on others. We need to be broken, we need to smash our high walls that keep us away from others. That is what the Holy Spirit’s fire did on that Pentecost Sunday in Jerusalem, the very same thing needed to happen these days in our Church.
Every Sunday when we gather like the Apostles at the Upper Room during the Lord’s supper, we are invited to keep his commandments in love. This can only happen when we pray for conversion through the fire of the Holy Spirit. Let us be open to receive this fire of the Holy Spirit again every Eucharistic celebration so that after our gathering, we may set the world anew in fire with Jesus Christ’s loving presence. Amen.