Solemnity of Pentecost Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3-7; Jn 20:19-23 (Year A)

Pentecost comes this year at a time when our nation is still grieving for those who died in the Manchester bombing. These, and similar incidents, are a stark reminder of the alienation, anger and violence that continue to threaten our fragile world. Ours is a wounded world that longs for healing, that cries out for an understanding leading to peace.

Understanding characterised the gift of the Spirit at the first Pentecost. The Apostles, who were Galileans, began to speak, and were instantly comprehended by peoples from every part of the Mediterranean world. This reached beyond the particularities of nations and language; it was a gift of the Spirit, an understanding that reached from heart to heart. It was an understanding that spoke not for itself, but from a love that reached out to all. This gift enabled selfless listening, the kind of listening that reaches beyond words so as to become one with the person who speaks.

As we celebrate Pentecost, let us pray that this Spirit of true understanding might be renewed in our families, our parishes and above all in our divided world.

Likening the gifts of the Spirit to body parts contributing to the wholeness of a single body, St Paul invited us to acknowledge the diverse gifts of the Spirit surrounding us every day. Pentecost is an ideal opportunity to review the familiar circumstances of daily life. We take much for granted but, with a little reflection, we soon recognise those whose lives enrich us with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Such are the fruits of the Holy Spirit whose presence continues to bless our lives. May our hearts be renewed with his understanding.

Above all, let us surrender our lives to our Risen Lord who breathed his Holy Spirit into fearful Apostles. The fruits of that encounter were a peace that the world could not give and, from the reassurance of that peace, a longing to reach out with healing and forgiveness. “The disciples were filled with joy, and again he said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.’ ”

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