Pentecost Sunday, 23rd May

John 20:19–23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, 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.”

We may call today the feast of the Holy Spirit. It is on the first appearance of the risen Lord he conferred the Holy Spirit on the apostles as we learn from today’s gospel. In today’s feast, we commemorate the solemn public and publicized conferral of the same Holy Spirit.

Pentecost crowns Christ’s work among us. The Holy Spirit comes to abide with the Church, directing and effectively aiding its leaders to preserve, explain and spread the gospel of hope and love which Christ had brought on earth.

This same Holy Spirit also helps and aids each member of the Church to live a life of holiness by following the teaching of Christ and by helping his or her fellow men and women to do likewise. It reminds us the infinite love of the blessed Trinity for us finite and mortal mankind.

It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Incarnation took place, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy offspring will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

During the period of the four gospels, the work of the Holy Spirit centered around the person of Jesus. The God-man was begotten by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). Baptized by the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-33), led by the Holy Spirit into wilderness (Luke 4:1), anointed by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:27-28), and raised by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). Finally, having ascended into heaven Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be with the Church.

The Holy Spirit illumines the Christian mind. It is the business of the Holy Spirit to life the veil Satan has put over our minds, and to illumine them, so that we can understand the things of God, especially as we read the word of God.

The Holy Spirit indwells in us and works in our lives. He comforts us, guides us, and sanctifies us. He replaces the desire for earthly things and fills us with desire for heavenly things. He fills us with peace and joy even in the midst of distress and sorrow. The Holy Spirit brings about a transformation in our lives.

The good news for us today is that we are no longer waiting for the Holy Spirit as the apostles waited for Him before the Pentecost in the evening on the first Sunday after the Good Friday. Instead, the Holy Spirit is waiting for us. We are no longer living in the time of promise but in the day of fulfilment of the promise made by Christ to his apostles that he would send the Holy Spirit. Amen.