The Feast of Pentecost: The Work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:5-15)
There was a devastating Cyclone that originated in the Arabian and made its landfall in Gujarat on 17th night at 8:30 pm. The cyclone created havoc on 17th night and on 18th in many districts of Gujarat and its impact was felt in many neighbouring states as well. I visited a few places in Gujarat where the cyclone had really made its impact. The wind was blowing at a speed of 175 kms per hour. In some places, the speed was between 100 to 130 kms/hr, while in some other places it crossed even 190 kms/hr. So many trees were uprooted and all over. A total of 79 people were killed in Gujarat, while 55,384 homes were damaged. Over 5,000 poles were uprooted while and over 2,400 villages witnessed power supply failure. On the way to Mahuva, I could see Pipava Port almost 8 kms away from the Road. One of the Containers from the Port was lying next to an electrical pole by the roadside. Most of the concrete utility poles had fallen down and the electric wires were all over the road. At the same time, I was surprised to see hundreds of iron columns had bent down from the middle by the force of the wind. Just a week before the great feast of the Pentecost, the wind blew hard on the people of Gujarat. Wind’s speed was so intense that it could bend iron columns and carry away heavy tanks and containers to far away places.
The Holy Spirit too does His work in a similar way. He is the wind/breath from God. He can bend every stubborn, iron hearts into amiable hearts to welcome the message of Christ. We often say this prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “Send forth your Spirit, they are created. And you renew the face of the ground” (Ps 104:30). As we are celebrating the feast of Pentecost, our prayer should be for a great renewal of the hearts of everyone. If the iron columns could be bent by the power of the wind, so too, the Spirit of God can transform the lives of every stubborn sinner. There is Covid – 19 pandemic on the one hand and cyclone and other natural calamities on the other. It is the right time to mend our ways and open our hearts to God. Our life is 24 x7 watched over and protected by our Lord. How grateful are we to our Lord? How prepared are we to carry the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Moved by the wind from the Holy Spirit, may God’s messengers and His message be carried to the ends of the world. Last Sunday, we had heard that the end time will not come, until the message of the gospel is proclaimed throughout the whole world.
Now we are in the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. Lakhs of people have lost their lives all over the world. Our nation, India continues to lose thousands of people to this deadly virus. It is like a war time situation. We need to respond as in the time of emergency. It is time to be awake and pray like the disciples along with Mother Mary in the Upper Room. It is not the time to be in despair but to be strong in our faith. The time gap between Ascension and Pentecost was a time of waiting with great hope. Mary was with the disciples who were disappointed and had lost hope of a glorious life with their master, in his Kingdom. Those who craved for power became powerless with the crucifixion of Jesus their Master. They awaited the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise. They waited for the helper to instill in them new vigor and enthusiasm. On the day of Pentecost, they experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire rested on each of them. God’s Spirit continued to guide their lives. Their fear turned into courageous witnessing to establish God’s Kingdom through their kerygma or proclamation all over the world.
Pope Francis spoke of the Holy Spirit as bringing “new and previously unknown hope, peace and joy”, saying: “At Pentecost God ‘infected’ the world with life. How different this is from the contagion of death that has ravaged the earth for months now! Today, more than ever, it is necessary to implore the Holy Spirit to pour forth into our hearts the life of God, who is love. Indeed, if there is to be a better future, our hearts must change for the better”. Pope exhorts us to examine our lives during this unprecedented crisis situation and take a strong determination to build up a better world.
It is the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all the truth and teach everyone about sin and repentance and judgment. The world’s ways are the most satisfactory for those who love the world. It is only those who are led by God’s Spirit will realize that the ways of the world are against God’s ways. Jesus promised Holy Spirit to remain with us and to teach us God’s ways. To leave one’s former sinful ways and to choose the way of the righteous is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Scripture says: “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” (Jn 16:8-11).
Pentecost was the moment of this first outpouring of his Spirit on the Apostles who were chosen by Jesus to spread his message of salvation to the whole world. Those who hear the message and believe in it may have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16; 20:31). Those who refuse to believe in him are condemned (cf. Jn 3:18). May this Pentecost bring again the outpouring of God’s Spirit on all of us. May God’s Spirit renew every heart and mind to become the messengers of hope and life to this world gasping for breath. May God breathe into us his lifegiving Spirit. Amen!