The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday, 28 May 2023 Acts 2:1-11 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13 ><}}}}*> John 20:19-23
Super typhoon “Betty” (aka, “Mawar”) provides us with some interesting insights on today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday which closes the Easter Season after the last Mass tonight when the paschal candle is extinguished and brought back to the baptistry as we resume Ordinary Time this Monday.
St. Luke described in our first reading how the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary at the upper room in Jerusalem was like the coming of a powerful storm.
And indeed, it was a storm so powerful that have swept the whole world since then, still happening these days calling on us all Christians to be filled anew by the Holy Spirit to continue Christ’s saving work especially in these troubled times when the world is so fragmented and divided.
When the time for the Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4
On the other hand, we have heard in the gospel today how on the evening of the third day – that is, on Easter – Jesus came to his apostles amid locked doors and breathed on them the Holy Spirit after greeting them with peace twice. It does not really matter how the Holy Spirit came into the world, whether 50 days after Easter as narrated by St. Luke in the first reading or right on the evening of Easter as claimed by St. John in his gospel account. What really matters is the fact the Holy Spirit was given to the early Christian community who has continued to stay in the Church and in each one of us, renewing us constantly ever since. It is the same Holy Spirit alive and present in our congregations and parishes today
Pentecost is a different kind of storm we badly need these days in the Church. Unlike weather disturbances, Pentecost does not destroy but in fact builds people, specifically the Church as the Body of Christ and People of God. But, it is also very much like a typhoon in the sense that it batters us to destroy our pride and selfishness that in the process we forget our selves and start thinking of others.
The Holy Spirit is like the power of any typhoon that can shake the very foundations of our long held beliefs and traditions to give way to new ways of living and believing, opening ourselves to the movements of the Spirit that makes Jesus Christ more present in our time.
Let us allow the Holy Spirit to sweep us and the Church like a storm to enable us to see life and world in new perspectives, to find new ways of reaching out to others especially those in the margins we have always forgotten, even taken for granted.
I used to tell people that it is always after the storms when the leaves are greenest and rich soil are deposited that become seedbeds for bountiful harvests in the future. If we can allow the Holy Spirit to sweep us like a storm, then we also learn to hope and trust more in God than in ourselves, as well as in our traditions and even technologies that have prevented us from maturing as Christians and disciples of the Lord.
Every year, more than a dozen typhoons hit and devastate our country; worst, as we have seen in the last ten years, typhoons are getting stronger every year. If we apply that reality to the Holy Spirit, Pentecost is a constant call for conversion among us. And it is in this aspect that I wish to recall another news item we have had last week to appreciate the Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit.
While we were busy tracking the movements of super typhoon “Betty” last week, a huge fire razed the historic Central Post Office building early Tuesday in Manila. I personally felt so sad seeing the images on TV news of the Post Office building engulfed in fire having been there at least thrice to drop mail and visit the iconic edifice as part of our humanities class in college.
Watching it burned made me asking myself, “is there a war again?” because the last time the Post Office building was burned was at the liberation of Manila in 1945.
And indeed, there is another great war still raging, the war between good and evil, the war between life and death.
That is why, like the storm, the Holy Spirit is like fire in the positive sense. It purifies us, makes us stronger and more committed as disciples of Jesus Christ. Just what we needed in this time in history.
St. Luke tells us in the first reading how after hearing the sound of strong winds in the Upper Room on that Pentecost day in Jerusalem, “there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2:3-4).
In the gospel, the Risen Lord’s breathing on the disciples was reminiscent of the Genesis account of the first man coming to life when God blew into his nostrils.
The Holy Spirit is life because of the fire and warmth it brings to every faithful and to the Church. It purifies our personhood into better persons to enable us to be converted into Jesus Christ.
It is this transforming fire of the Holy Spirit that we need to bring more warmth and life among us Christians who have become so cold in our faith, becoming more passive than ever with all the decadence going on in the world, even in the Church.
Indeed, as St. Paul said in the second reading, No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3) because to believe in Jesus Christ is to always accept everyone as brother and sister by standing for what is true and good, protecting life especially at its weakest moments of infancy and old age.
Let the fire of the Holy Spirit dissolve the walls that separate us from each other. Let the fire of the Holy Spirit bring out her gifts for us to be more understanding and wise, being able to forge on with life with fortitude and knowledge, able to counsel those lost and weak, as well as pious and fearful of the Lord,
If fire has the power to destroy great buildings like the Central Post Office in Manila, fire also has the great power to build up not only edifices and other things but most especially people when they are open to its great potentials of conversion and transformations.
May this Solemnity of the Pentecost make us more attuned with the Holy Spirit so we may constantly be converted into better persons and Christians to sweep the world like a storm with great changes in uniting people to work for peace and like fire in having the enthusiasm to work for true development and progress of mankind. Amen.