Gospel & Reflection 19th May 2024

Gospel & Reflection for Pentecost Sunday.

19th May ’24

Jn. 20: 19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors were locked where the disciples were, 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.”


Friends, there was a book published a few years ago by an American evangelical writer with the startling title ‘Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect Of The Holy Spirit’. The author, Francis Chan, argues that while we often pray in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, how often though, do we live with an awareness of just the first two? He points out that as Jesus ascended into heaven, the feast of which we celebrated last week, He promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, our feast for this weekend. This Helper was sent to us so that we could be true and living witnesses for Christ. Unfortunately, for Chan, he believes that many Christian people have admired the gift of the Spirit but neglected to open, unpack and use it.

It is interesting celebrating a feast associated with the Holy Spirit. We live in a time where many people are disassociating themselves with everything religious, Faith-based, Faith influenced. The idea of a spiritual aspect to our lives is still held unto by many but a belief in God as Father, Son, and Spirit is fading. That’s curious because ‘Spirit’ especially is recognised as something very important and necessary in life. We use the term ‘spirit’ in all sort of ways:

We talk about human spirit, national spirit, county spirit. We encourage school spirit and community spirit. We often describe people as being in good spirits, having the right spirit or maybe that their spirit is low. We sometimes get told to “lift our spirits”. With sport, we refer to spirited performances and we encourage players and teams of all ages to “show some spirit”. We talk of fighting spirit, generous spirit; of being with people ‘in spirit’, while remembering often those who may have been a ‘guiding spirit’ to us.

We speak of ‘Spirit’ quite a lot, even those who claim not to believe in it!

In some way, it is a fleeting recognition that as human beings we are more than just skin and bone. There is much more going on inside of us than just biology. There is more occurring in our world than just random experiences, or simple coincidences or accidents. In the ways that we use the word ‘spirit’, it expresses our natural, dare I say, God given instinct that there is something much more mysterious going on within and around us, than many will care to admit.

This mysterious yearning of our human nature is the Holy Spirit; but yes, it is a gift that we have neglected to open and use to its true and powerful potential ever since the Lord first gave it, and this tragic neglect has to be reversed.

Our reading from the Acts of the Apostles captures wonderfully the transforming effect of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. We find them first hiding, cowering; paralysed with fear and hopelessness. But the Spirit changes them completely. They are filled with a boldness that allows them to emerge once more into the world and to witness with conviction, and without fear of consequence to the love of God that the Spirit was helping them proclaim and witness to.

It can do the same for us all.

Friends, we are challenged this weekend to never underestimate the Holy Spirit. It is strong, powerful, ferocious, beautiful. It moves where it wills and works wherever it is welcomed and invited to be. St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Corinthians that ‘There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; …all sorts of services to be done but always the same Lord.’ The Spirit moves within and gifts us all differently but always to the praise of our one God.

We are being asked to be people who do not neglect the Spirit and its gifts within and around us. We must remember that we have been immersed into the Spirit through Baptism and Confirmation but maybe we don’t call upon the Spirit enough, and have it enrich our lives as it can so powerfully do.

So, let us never be afraid to call upon and trust in the Holy Spirit. It will give us all a much needed boldness and an unshakable nerve in living our faith and witnessing to the love and kindness of God. In these troubling times of ours, people need to hear and see such love, kindness and Spirit, as never before.

Come, Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Fr. Richard