Homily of Pater Juan Carlos Tinjaca, ss.cc., delivered Sunday 31 May 2020 in Sint-Kwinten’s Church:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Feast of the Holy Spirit. According to the author of the Acts of the Apostles, fifty days after Easter and ten days after the Ascension, the promise of Jesus is fulfilled: the Holy Spirit arrives.
There are several elements that I would like to highlight: the first, the disciples of Jesus are gathered with his mother and his relatives, in prayer. Second the figures of the strong wind and the tongues of fire. Third, the preaching of the apostles and the fact that everyone can understand the message in their own language.
Without underestimating the very personal manner in which the Spirit can inspire in each of us as individuals, the powerful action of the Spirit takes place within a praying community, in which its members, in harmony, gather to ask for the presence of God among them. Not for nothing did Jesus form a community of disciples to be with him, and to send them to announce the Good News to the ends of the world. Jesus himself tells us that, where there are two or more gathered in his name, there He is present.
Perhaps that sense of community has been tested in this corona-time, we have not been able to gather to pray in the same place, but the Holy Spirit has inspired us to find new ways to be together, to feel that we are in communion with each other, despite social distancing. That we are not to be alone. It is the Spirit that calls us from different parts of the world, to be together—physically, or, as we are today, virtually—and communicate with the same Father, our Father.
The figures of the strong wind and fire make us think of the action of the Spirit. A community that is open to the Holy Spirit cannot remain static and cold. When there is wind or fire, we cannot remain indifferent. At least you must stand up to close the window or see that the fire is not out of control. Nor can we forget that too much wind, too much fire, too much zeal, destroys, kills. Sometimes it is necessary to learn to feel the force of the Spirit in the whisper of the soft breeze and in the flickering light of a small candle, in the silence of prayer before a meeting. The creative power of the Spirit surprises us and gives us life.
After the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the apostles lost their fear and went out to preach the Good News: which News? That the Lord has risen. They did not go out to announce catastrophes. No, they went out to announce that life has defeated death. That after darkness and chaos come clarity and new creation, God continues his work. Why does everyone understand that despite speaking different languages? Because the message was simple and responded to the longing of every human being, wherever he or she is. We all seek the meaning of our existence; we all seek life.
Today, on the Feast of Pentecost, it is announced to us that the life and meaning of our existence are Jesus, who, out of love, gave his life for us and who has risen to give us new and abundant life. Who has gone up to heaven to prepare a dwelling for us in the Father’s house. That is what the Spirit calls us to announce today. This Good News is very relevant at this time when we have been confronted with the harsh reality of disease and death.
Happy Feast of Pentecost!