My Dear Sisters and Brothers gathered here to commemorate the Day of Pentecost! I realise that in our era dominated by doubt about things which don’t appear tangible some testing may be required, some kind of breathalyser, to detect the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Let us embark then on identifying the presence of the Holy Spirit, his influence. The most accurate breathalyser detecting the Holy Spirit is always the Word of God. I believe that the Scripture readings given to us this Sunday can do the job well.
The First Reading about the Descent of the Holy Spirit, about fire and wind, about the Apostles speaking foreign languages is captivating indeed. However the manifestation of the Holy Spirit wasn’t limited to the Upper Room only. In fact the Holy Spirit also manifested himself at evangelising which happened after. How does it apply to us? The Reading from the Acts of the Apostles is the first, mobile breathalyser. Those who are under the influence of the Holy Spirt cannot be shut up. They evangelise by their very life. Their actions, their prayers, their dreams, their hopes, and sometimes even their words, aim at telling the world that “Jesus is Lord,” because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Someone could say now: How can we know that this evangelising business was not empty words or an oratory show? Well, when police want to investigate further someone they suspect to be under the influence they take them to a specialist laboratory. For our Biblical investigation the Gospel reading provides such a laboratory. After fifty days from Easter Sunday we again listen to the account of the Resurrection. That Easter evening Jesus came to his disciples and said: “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them the breath of life, the breath of the Resurrection. Probably his breath wasn’t as noisy as the noise on the Pentecost, but it was the same Holy Spirit as the Lord said: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” What was the purpose of giving the Holy Spirit to the disciples? “For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.”
Before the disciples began evangelising they had to look into each other eye with honesty. In the Upper Room in Jerusalem there was no room for pretending to be OK or overlooking sins.
Before the disciples began evangelising they had to look into each other eye with mercy. In the Upper Room in Jerusalem there was no room for nurturing resentment and disappointment.
That community of self-confessed sinners was also a community of forgivers. When they walked out into the streets of Jerusalem 50 days later their credentials were not only their linguistic skills but the community which was backing them. They were able to say to their listeners: “What we are proclaiming to you now is what we are living as a community of followers of Jesus. When you convert you will have sisters and brothers who with realism and compassion will share the journey to the Kingdom.” If someone is under the influence of the Holy Spirt such a person is deeply engaged in his or her community because the Holy Spirit as we profess in our Creed: “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” The Holy Spirit is an expert at telling and creating communion, as it is his origin. Those who forgive their broken communities and who, at the same time, turn to their broken communities for forgiveness are always under the influence of the Holy Spirit. They are a means of unity Jesus prayed for at the Last Supper.
I pray for you my Dear Sisters and Brothers, and please pray for me too, that wherever and whenever we are “pulled over” by people who are in need of Good News “out of the abundance of our heart our mouth may speak” giving away that we are “under the influence of the Holy Spirit.”