Gifts of the Holy Spirit

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The WORD in other words (2023) by Fr.Bernard Espiritu, SVD – New Zealand

Solemnity of the Descent of the Holy Spirit / Pentecost Sunday – A

Pentecost finds its origin in the Hebrew Scriptures’ Book of Leviticus (23:16-17). It is a feast Jews celebrate fifty days after Passover to mark their gratitude for the first fruits of the harvest. It celebrates and acknowledges the creative and collaborative fruits of God’s blessings and human labor together.

Such tradition is vital to understanding the event in Jerusalem on Pentecost Day 33 AD. As there were varieties of first fruits, many tribes of people came as pilgrims to Jerusalem. The incredible moment happened when each woman and man of the “Jesus Tribe,” touched by the Holy Spirit, spoke in languages not their own that each pilgrim of another tongue understood their message.

Pentecost is primarily a celebration of partnership: speaking and listening, Grace (God’s graciousness), and work (human dedication). Its epitome happens when water and wine blend during the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass; best still in the Incarnation of the Word – the becoming one of the Divine and the Human. Pentecost aims to bring harmony in unity and not uniformity.

Pentecost brings about community. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, points out the variety of gifts the Spirit entrusts to each person. The excellence of a gift is not found in itself but in the perfection it fulfills when it creates the Body of Christ. Each piece of the puzzle finds meaning and importance when related to the entire picture.

Pentecost brings life. In times of disillusion and loss, fear blocks the invitation to novelty. No wonder the first words of Jesus to his disillusioned and discouraged disciples after his death were, “Peace be with you.” But such words came at first only as ghostlike and haunting echoes, for they were so focused only on their guilts. Jesus had to simultaneously show the marks of his healed wounds caused by the nails of his crucifixion. With the marks of a healed past and the repetition of the first fruits of his Resurrection – “Peace be with you” – the disciples sparkled back with joy– another fruit of the Resurrection.

Only when they experienced this fruit of Gospel Joy that Jesus was able to give the essential truth and reality of his legacy: the Breath of Life, the Holy Spirit, the fullness of the fruit of the Resurrection. To receive the Holy Spirit mirrors the truth that the Father sent Jesus. To be gifted with the Holy Spirit is creating his followers, his missionary-disciples, the bearers of forgiveness. The gift of joy, peace, and life happens when forgiveness becomes heartfelt. 

Healing, Peace, Gospel Joy, and Forgiveness are the fruits celebrated by Christians on the Feast of Pentecost. These fruits are essential elements of a Synodal Church that can give believers a future with hope.

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