Pentecost Sunday Gospel Reflection


Trusting the Holy Spirit (John 15:26-27; 16:12-15)


Today, Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the birthday of the Church. The Gospel chosen for today is from John’s account of the dialogue which Jesus shared with the apostles after the Last Supper. Aware that they did not fully understand everything he said, he promised the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now. But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you to the complete truth.”


The Holy Spirit is called the Advocate, literally meaning Called-to-your-help. Advocate is the Latin translation of the Greek word, Paraclete. Before his Ascension, the Risen Lord instructed the Apostles to gather together in prayer. Mary, his Mother, and other relations joined them. Then on Pentecost Day, a Jewish festival celebrating the fiftieth day of the grain harvest, the Holy Spirit descended in a powerful wind and tongues of fire. The harvest of souls had begun in the birth of the Church. The Apostles were utterly changed. Now they knew what to say and all fear was gone. Pilgrims from many lands who had come to Jerusalem for the harvest festival were amazed. The preaching of the Apostles and the exemplary lifestyle of the followers of Jesus inspired thousands to join them.


We are living at a time when the Church is experiencing a Winter season. But Spring is never far behind and history shows us that the lowest times produced the greatest saints. We are being encouraged to walk together (that is what a synod means), to listen to the diverse ideas of others and to trust in the Holy Spirit to guide the future of the Church. Rushing into hasty decisions would cause disunity or a schism. How long will it take? Nobody knows. With God a thousand years is like a single day! But history shows that nothing can stop the momentum of an idea which has reached its time. Today, Pentecost, we are celebrating the impact of the Holy Spirit against all the odds. Trust in the Holy Spirit.


Our personal synod


The call to walk with the Holy Spirit is not confined to meetings in Rome. Each and every one of us is called to our personal synod of walking with the Holy Spirit. In today’s Second Reading (Galatians 5:16-25), Paul instructs us to be guided by the Holy Spirit rather than self-indulgence. The toxic fruits of self-indulgence are clearly seen in sexual irresponsibility, arguments, bad temper, quarrels, disregard of the rights of others, abuse of drink etc. Not the sort of society that any sensible person would desire.


In contrast to self-indulgence, St. Paul then lists 9 beautiful fruits of a life transformed by the Holy Spirit.


The first three fruits express a healthy relationship with God: love, joy and peace. This is what Pope Francis calls the joy of the Gospel. Jesus proclaimed the inspiring ideal of the kingship of God in a world of justice and peace, inspired by love, respect, forgiveness and helpfulness. A good relationship with God leads to a better world for all.


Paul then highlights three virtues that will transform our relationships with other people: patience with others, kindness of heart and eyes that see goodness in people. We learn how to respect and accept other people, imperfect though they be.


Paul’s list then throws light on three virtues that greatly strengthen our self-identity. Trustfulness produces a strong backbone. Gentleness begins in being gentle with ourselves. It is the sort of personal strength that produces beauty. Then finally, the evils of self-indulgence are overcome by the discipline of self-control.


Come, Holy Spirit, continue the Day of Pentecost by transforming our lives to produce the nine fruits of your presence in our lives.



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