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May 11, 2008 Year: A
Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13, Jn 20:19-23
WIND, FIRE, TONGUES
day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one
place. And suddenly from Heaven there came a sound like
the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire
house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of
fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each
of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit
gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under
heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd
gathered and was bewildered, because all heard them
speaking in their own languages. Amazed and astonished,
they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking
Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in
our own language? Partians, Medes, Elamites, and
residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus
and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of
Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both
Jews and converts, Cretans and Arabs - in our own
languages we hear them speaking about God's deeds of
power." [Acts 2:1-11]
"No one can
say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. Now there
are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there
are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there
are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who
activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the
manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and
all the members of the body, though many, are one body,
so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all
baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free
- and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." [1 Cor.
evening on the day Jesus rose from the dead, the first
day of the week, and the doors of the house where the
disciples had met were locked for fear of the
authorities. Jesus came and stood among them and said,
'Peace be with you.' After he said this, he showed them
his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when
they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the
Father has sent me, so I send you.'
When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to
them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins
of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins
of any, they are retained.' [Jn. 20:19-23]
I observed the father of a lad giving him Rs. 10 just
before entering the Church. I asked him why he gave
money to the lad before entering the Church? He told me
that the child is trained to be generous towards God and
people. I was impressed and was really appreciative of
the attitude of the father.
There is a story of identical twins. One was a
hope-filled optimist. "Everything is coming up roses!"
he would say. The other twin was a sad and hopeless
pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy's Law,
was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought
them to the local psychologist.
He suggested to the parents a plan to
balance the twins' personalities. "On their next
birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their
gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford
and give the optimist a box of manure."
The parents followed these instructions
and carefully observed the results. When they peeked in
on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, "I
don't like the color of this computer... I'll bet this
calculator will break... I don't like the game... I know
someone who's got a bigger toy car than this..."
Tiptoeing across the corridor, the
parents peeked in and saw their little optimist
gleefully throwing the manure up in the garden. He was
giggling. "You can't fool me! Where there's this much
manure, there's got to be a Rose!"
event of Pentecost was to fill the pessimist disciples
with the Spirit of courage and joy. In our life there
are so many things that happen. We tend to take them
simply without analyzing their importance to us. At
times we are so accustomed that we do not even think
that they are from God. Are we filled with the hope of
the Resurrected Lord? Or do we worry about things that
matter only concerning our material life? Are joyful? Or
do we make things sadder as we pass through them?
are events so wonderful, and so full of mystery, that
ordinary language cannot describe them. Such was the
Pentecost event which we celebrate today. In our first
reading Luke, the writer, uses symbols to describe
something beyond the power of words to portray. The
coming of God’s Spirit, he writes, was “like a strong
driving wind.” “Tongues as of fire” rested on these
first Christians, who suddenly received power “to speak
in different tongues.” These three symbols –
wind, fire, tongues
– are not arbitrary. Each tells us something about God
and his mysterious work in the world.
1. Wind: The
word used by Luke is used elsewhere in Scripture to
designate a person’s “breath” or “spirit.” (Cf. Gen
2:7; Acts 17:25) At birth breathing begins. At death
it ceases. The coming of God’s Spirit is said to have
been “like wind” because the Spirit is the Church’s
breath. Before the coming of this Spirit-breath, the
Church’s life was something like that of an unborn child
in the womb. Only with the coming of this “strong
driving wind” did the Church receive the fullness of
divine breath gives the Church an astonishing power of
self-renewal. Again and again in history the Church has
become so corrupt through the sins of its members that
people have predicted its imminent demise. Yet time and
again the Church has risen, through the power of this
divine Spirit-breath, renewed and purified. For this
recurring phenomenon there is but one possible
explanation the fact that the Church lives not from its
own strength, and certainly not from the strength of its
members, but from the continual in-breathing of God’s
Spirit, who is the Church’s life-breath.
breathing stops, so does body heat. Deep within the
collective soul of this great family of God which we
call the Catholic Church is the fire of the world’s
greatest love: the unbounded love of God for all he has
made. That is the secret of the Church’s
magnetism. People in the Church who are cold,
hard-hearted, always ready to criticize, to complain, to
complain, block the warmth of that love. They act not as
heat conveyers, but as heat shields. Which are you with
regard to the Spirit’s fire? Are you a heat conveyer,
or a heat shield?
warms because it burns. If combustible material is
nearby, fire spreads rapidly.
Christianity, it has been said, cannot be taught.
It must be caught. Are you burning with that fire? Are
you handing it on to others?
also gives light. God sent his Son into a dark world to
be the world’s light. This light shines today through
God’s continual gift of his Spirit to his Church and to
each of its members. He wants us to serve as lenses or
prisms of that light. “Your light must shine before
others,” Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “that
they may see your good deeds, and glorify your heavenly
Father” (Mt. 5:16). And in John’s gospel
Jesus warns: “Bad people all hate the light and avoid
it, for fear that their practices should be shown up.
The honest person comes to the light, so that it may be
clearly see that God is in all he does” (John 3:20f).
we fear God’s light, we need to ask God burn away
whatever causes us to shun the light, whatever stands in
the way of our spreading the light, fire, and warmth of
his Holy Spirit.
The Foreign Tongues:
in which these first Christians spoke symbolize the
Church’s work through history: proclaiming to all
peoples, in all languages, the wonderful truth of God:
God is, that he is real;
he is a God of love, who looks for a response of love –
for himself, and for our sisters and brothers;
God has made us for himself: to serve, love, and praise
him here on earth, to be happy with him forever in
he is the God of the impossible, who can do for us what
we can never do for ourselves: fit us for life with him,
here and in eternity.
is the message which we have to proclaim. Does any of
that message come through in your life? If you were
arrested tonight for being a Catholic, would there be
enough evidence to convict you? And if mere presence at
Sunday Mass were not enough for conviction, would there
be enough evidence then?
we are Christians in a land undreamed of by anyone on
that first day of Pentecost is proof that the Spirit’s
“strong driving wind” did not blow in vain. Those first
touched by that wind were blown into places, and
situations, they never dreamed of. Even those who never
left Jerusalem found their lives utterly changed.
same wind of the Spirit is blowing in the Church today.
Is it blowing in your life? Or are you afraid of that
wind – of what it might do to you, and where it might
blow you? Cast aside fear. The wind of God’s Spirit,
like the winds of the sky, blows from different
directions. But in the end this wind blows all who are
driven by it to the same place. The wind of God Spirit
blows us home – home to God.
Spirit of the Lord has given us the spirit of love,
truth, joy, peace, patience, generosity, kindness,
goodness, self control and humility. We need to bear
witness to them. Then perhaps we could say boldly that
we are the children of God and children of the Spirit of
laity] work for the sanctification of the world from
within as a leaven … [making] Christ known to others
especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in
faith, hope, and charity. [Lumen gentium, 31]
“The laity are called in a special way to make the
Church present and operative in those places and
circumstances where only through them can it become the
salt of the earth.”
are people here who are doing those things every day.
Are you? One day the Lord will examine us about how we
have responded to the call to be his messengers to
others. Here, ahead of time, are some of the questions
in that examination.
won’t ask what kind of car you drove; he’ll ask how many
people you drove who didn’t have transportation.
won’t ask the area and beauty of your house; he’ll ask
how many people you welcomed into your home.
won’t ask about the clothes you had in your cupboard;
he’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.
won’t ask what your highest salary was; he’ll ask if you
cut corners to obtain it.
won’t ask what your job title was; he’ll ask if you
performed your job to the best of your ability.
won’t ask how many friends you had; he’ll ask how many
people to whom you were a friend.
won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived; he’ll ask how
you treated your neighbors.
won’t ask about the color of your skin; he’ll ask about
the content of your character.
testimony of deeds before words is powerful. You
probably know the saying: “What you are speaks so loud
that I can’t hear what you say.” Words are cheap and our
world is inundated by words. People today are more
impressed by deeds than by words.
Bearing witness to Jesus Christ in daily life is
difficult. If you doubt that, it probably means that you
have never seriously tried it for any extended period of
time. With our own resources alone, the task is
impossible. But we are not alone. We have an unseen
companion in the missionary task: the same divine master
and Lord who is saying to us right now, as he said to
that little band of weak sinners and doubters on a
Galilean hilltop two thousand years ago: “Behold I am
with you always, until the end of the age.”
New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a
serious exegetical study on the important words and
texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The
study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic
and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to
EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph
Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East,
Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can
be ordered through email:
The cost of the book is Rs.
125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE
DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on
St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza,
OCD, MA. PhD.
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