Home » Pentecost Gospel Encouragement – 23rd May 2021

Pentecost Gospel Encouragement – 23rd May 2021

Dear sisters and brothers,

I don’t know how many of us remember our Baptisms.  Most of us – like me – were Baptised as babies, but some of us will have made the decision to be Baptised as adults.  I often think how lovely it would have been to remember that experience.  I realise that I might not have felt any different afterwards, but to have gone through the preparation and have the expectation rising and finally come to the big day must be wonderful.  At least, that’s the sense that I get from those who I’ve had the privilege of going through the RCIA programme with.  RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and this adult Baptism would have been the norm in the early Church.  Most of those who were Baptised as infants 2,000 years ago did so along with their whole families, and so grew up in a family that had chosen to commit their lives to their faith.  That norm of adult Baptism would have meant that Baptism and Confirmation weren’t separated by a ten to fourteen year gap as they were for most of us, but happened as part one and part two of the same process as still happens when adults are Baptised at the Easter vigil.  As the two Sacraments signify, they would have been cleansed of their sins, become members of the body of Christ – the Church – and equipped for mission.

Every year, as Pentecost comes round, we are given the opportunity to embrace the reality of those two Sacraments in our lives; to welcome the Holy Spirit afresh to cleanse us, to affirm as members of Christ’s body and to equip us for our mission to share the love of God.  We may not have felt anything when we received the Sacraments, but the reality is that the Holy Spirit moved in power in our lives on those days, and he wants to continue to move in power in our lives today and every day.  Pentecost, as we celebrate the birthday of the Church, is a great day to be reminded of that and to open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit.

We heard in the first reading how there was what sounded like wind and what seemed like tongues of fire.  These two images are powerful images from key moments in the Old Testament.  The wind, the breath of God, was what brought order out of chaos right at the beginning of creation; it was what was breathed into the first man and woman bringing life itself; and it was the breath that Jesus breathed over the apostles in our Gospel today.  That wind that came upon the house where our Lady and the apostles were praying at Pentecost, breathed new life into each of them.  It ‘Confirmed’ the Holy Spirit’s presence within them and propelled them out of that room, out of the Church building, into the world.

And the fire was the same as the burning bush that was revealed to Moses, which itself had been a fire that didn’t destroy what it touched but drew Moses to it.  That same fire of God, the fire of the Spirit, separated out and rested upon and within the apostles and our Lady at Pentecost. And like the burning bush, the fire of God’s Spirit didn’t destroy them.  It drew others to them!!!

When we were Baptised and Confirmed we too received this breath of God and this fire, and the power and wonder that goes with the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives.  Sometimes, because we received those Sacraments as children, or because – and this may be true for those of us who have been through the RCIA as well – with time it’s just become normal, we’ve failed to appreciate the power and wonder as fully as we might.  Today, the solemnity of Pentecost is a key day in the Church’s calendar to open ourselves up to the power, the wonder, the fire, the breath and the love of God, cleansing us afresh, renewing us as members of the body of Christ and equipping us for mission.

I invite you now to take a few moments of silence, maybe opening your hands in your lap as a gesture of openness, closing your eyes so as to block out any distractions and asking the Holy Spirit to inspire you – which literally means to ‘in spirit’ you – and to reveal the fulness of his love for you, as you gently pray the oldest prayer of the Church:

Come Holy Spirit!  Come Holy Spirit!  Come Holy Spirit!……

With every blessing,