03 Jun Pentecost Sunday 2017
Dear Friends in Christ:
Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection, when the Holy Spirit in “tongues as of fire” came to rest on each one of the Apostles. This is the birthday of the Church.
In 1968, at the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala, Ignatius of Laodicea, Orthodox Metropolitan spoke these words about the Holy Spirit: “Without the Holy Spirit God is distant, Christ is merely an historical figure, the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is just an organization, authority is domination, mission is propaganda, liturgy is only nostalgia, and the work of Christians is slave labor. But with the Holy Spirit, Christ is risen and present, the Gospel is a living force, the Church is a communion in the life of the Trinity, authority is a service that sets people free, mission is Pentecost, the liturgy is memory and anticipation, and the labor of Christians is divinized.” In other word the Holy Spirit is the life and the soul of the Church.
The First Reading of the Vigil Mass of Pentecost tells that after the Great Flood and God’s Covenant with Noah people migrated in the east and came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. In that place they decided to build for themselves a city and a tower in their own name independent from God. But this rebellious act caused all kinds of conflict and separation among them, their language was confused, and as a consequence they were scattered all over the earth.
However, by the miracles of tongues at Pentecost the pride of the Babel Tower has been reversed, order has been restored and unity has been brought back to the human race. Today’s Gospel tells us that on the day of Resurrection Jesus came back and gave his disciples the gift of his Holy Spirit that brings peace and forgiveness, the fruits of Resurrection and the promise of Pentecost.
Pentecost reminds us that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church uniting all peoples in truth and love, in mutual understanding and acceptance, so that all things in heaven and on earth will be united under Christ and brought into the Kingdom of God.