1, Acts 2:1-11, First Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13, John 20:19-23
Today we celebrate the solemnity of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. Today marks the birth of the Church. The feast of today is an event that happened in the midst of a festival as a sign that God uses some significant Jewish feasts to make known His mighty works and presence among them. The Holy Spirit plays significant roles from creation to this day. As Christians we can never do without Him. The event of today began with a preparation, then to the manifestation and indwelling and finally the effects of His indwelling. Let us have a moment of reflection on this.
When Pentecost Day came round
The first reading started with “When the day of Pentecost came, they had all assembled together”, thus indicating that the celebration of today is an event in the midst of an event. Pentecost as a term comes from the Greek word Pentekoste meaning “fiftieth”. This refers to a particular feast celebrated by the Jews, fifty days after the Passover.It would be recalled that the israelites celebrate the Passover as a commemoration of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt.The Israelites were instructed to mark their doorposts with the blood of a lamb. When the Angel of the Lord sees it, He will pass over the first-born in these homes. At Pentecost, the Israelites celebrate the fiftieth day of this great festival. It is a festival of thanksgiving where they gather their harvests in appreciation to God(Numbers 28:26, Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:9-10) significantly known in Hebrew as the Jewish Shavuot. It was in the midst of this celebration, that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. This event also was exactly fifty days after the resurrection, recalling how the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, all happened within the Passover feast. Pentecost Sunday is then celebrated 50 days after Easter.
2. Secondly, the descent of the Holy Spirit did not happen by chance, there was a preparation for it. Luke reported in Acts of the Apostles that before Jesus ascends into heaven, He instructed His apostles “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5). After this, they returned to Jerusalem and went straight to the upper room and remained in prayer (Acts 1:12-14). The disciples shut themselves out of the world, in obedience to the instruction of the master, and remained in prayer, awaiting that the promise of their master must come to fulfillment. Here you see faith, obedience, commitment to prayer and total concentration. The Holy Spirit is not a force, nor power, nor anything we might think Him to be. The Holy Spirit is a person. Other things are just manifestations of His presence. As a Person we have to be prepared for Him, we do this by shutting ourselves out of the world, from sin, from distractions, from earthly gain and prepare for His presence. We do this by remaining totally in prayer, faith, hope,expectation and confidence of His coming, this is the essence of the novena we do before this day. The Holy Spirit is real.
At the Pentecost
The first reading of today reported significant things that happened on the day the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. These events that happened on this day also have some significance in the lives of the apostles, the church and all of us.
(i)The Mighty Wind
Luke reported that on this day there came from heaven a sound as of a violent wind which filled the entire house in which they were sitting. While talking about the Spirit in John 3, Jesus says “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). This is a manifestation of His presence. The wind is a sign that something may happen and something is happening, we can see this before rain falls. The Wind indicates that something highly significant is happening in the lives of the apostles. In today’s gospel, Jesus before giving out His spirit breathed upon them saying “Receive the Holy Spirit. Which indicates an indwelling. John 20:22. After creation of man, Man was lifeless and nothing until God breathed into Him (Genesis 2:7) and man was filled with life. Something that was not there before is now made present, something that has not happened is now happening. We need the Holy Spirit. His presence makes significant things happen in us. He will surely fill us with spiritual life again.
(ii) Tongues of Fire
Luke reported today, that there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. The fire was on them but not burning them. A replica of the burning bush in Exodus 3:1-17. The burning bush experience signifies a time of change, a time of salvation for the israelites. Fire as a substance brings change. Fire changes anything brought to it from one form to another. The tongues of fire on the apostles is a sign of total transformation, they are now sanctified, they are no longer how they were before. Change becomes the Key word. We can imagine how they were filled with fear before this experience and the transformation after this experience.Old things have passed away, they are now filled with the Holy Spirit. If we need to change in our lives we need the Holy Spirit. He can change your condition, He can change your past, He can change your bitterness, He can heal you, He can make you whole again.
(iii) They spoke In Different Languages
Luke reported that during this experience they began to speak in different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves. This is not a form of abracadabra nor making any form of sound, they were speaking in different languages. This is antithetical to the event of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9,where the inmates were speaking and no one was hearing. Here as they speak, they understand each other, first a sign that the Spirit of God is not an author of confusion, wherever He is, there is order. Second He makes the impossible happen just like angel Gabriel told Mother Mary In Luke 1:34-35. What happened that day ordinarily is a case of impossibility. Thirdly, just as the tower of babel led to many languages, the Pentecost event is a pointer that salvation belongs not only for the Jews but others. Thus indicating the major work Jesus assigned to His disciples to be witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). In the Second reading Paul says “We were baptized into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink. It is a pointer that though we are many and with different gifts we work for the same Lord Jesus. The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good. Thus on this day, the Church was born.
According to John’s account, after Jesus has breathed on the apostles, with that powerful statement of the moment “Receive the Holy Spirit” He gave them power to forgive and retain sins. This power is handed to the apostles which is then handed down from generation to generation until today. We also recall His promise to them before the ascension “ But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”. (Acts:1-8). After the Pentecost event, they were filled with power, they became courageous. Healing, miracles, conversion etc accompanied their works. They were filled with faith, became so hungry and thirsty to defend God with their lives, they rejoice even in the midst of suffering, not blaming God nor complaining, they became staunch defenders of the faith, the fearful apostles became the most courageous, ever ready to die even for Jesus etc. These are what happen in any life filled with the Holy Spirit, Your life will totally transform and reflect the image of Christ wherever we go.
We need the Holy spirit, without the Holy Spirit we are nothing. This is not a matter of belonging to any organization, going to church, becoming a member of CMO or CWO or whatever positions we may think we have. To fully see a change in our lives we need the Holy Spirit of God.
We can never do without the Spirit. God created with His Spirit (Genesis 1:3), Virgin Mary conceived by the power of the Holy spirit (Luke 1:34-35, Jesus worked with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, and 18). The Apostles needed Him to function effectively (Acts 1:4-8, Luke 24:49). David pleaded God not to remove His Spirit from Him (Psalms 51:11). All the great prophets of old were led by the power of the Holy spirit. The Church does not do without Him either, in all the sacraments there is always an invocation of the Spirit. Holy orders will become invalid without prayer to the Holy Spirit and impositio manuum (laying of hands). During Consecration at Mass, we invoke Him to transform the sacred species. Beloved pray for the Holy Spirit, We can never do without him. Our problem is that we don’t take most of these things seriously. Many see the Holy Spirit as a figment of imagination and unreal, please think again. The Holy Spirit is the secret of every great man of God, every great achievement and every successful ministry. He is the secret of holiness. Let us embrace Him today.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to continually go close to Him. Be blessed. You can reply to me in the comment section. Peace be with you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Fr. Sanctus MArio
3 days ago • REFLECTIONS
Morning Breakfast With the Word May 28 2020
The number 1 is underrated but very powerful with meaning. In the gospel of today Jesus widens His attention and includes those who will follow him through the preaching of the apostles, by implication ,all of us. Jesus prays in verse 21 and 22, that they may be one and in verse 23 He added “that they may be perfectly one “. He does not want any single division among them and the only standard for this unity is the bond that exists between the Father and the Son. This is the standard expected from all of us who belong in Christ. This is the Church’s standard for every marriage.
The Mystery of One
Among all numerical figures, number one is the only number that can never be divided by any other number but yet in every number. Imagine how powerful one is. You can never divide it. Even when you try to put it in half and half, it is still one and one. When you remove one from any number, there is still another one in the other number. If you remove all, one will still remain, if you remove the last one remaining, then it becomes zero, which means nothing. So we can never do without the number one. This surely indicates that we can never succeed without oneness. We can hardly succeed without unity and peaceful co-existence with one another. This is the number that characterize the Trinity (Three in One). Jesus knows the power of Oneness, He understands the power of a unified force that is why He kept on hammering on this and praying and seeking for it. He exhibits this in the breaking of bread telling us that we belong to one body in Him.
The prayer of people united with one heart can break any barriers. In Acts 1, immediately after the ascension, the apostles in one heart and one Spirit entered into prayer and the Holy Spirit came to them in a mighty way. In Acts 12, When Peter was arrested by Herod, the believers in one heart and one Spirit remained in prayers, the prayer was so powerful that God sent His Angel to rescue Peter. In Mathew 18:19, Jesus says “in truth I tell you once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. In Acts of the apostles 16, Paul and Silas united in one heart and brought down power from heaven through their praises. Our problem is that we are seeking the face of heaven with hatred, disunity, selfishness and divided hearts. Some are praying for the death of the other person, not for a peaceful co existence. Our prayers then become powerless and less effective.
The Only Secret
The only secret to stand and be strong is one heart and one Spirit. Any family, organization and group that can unite in anything they do, will be very hard to break. When the number one is present, it means there is something. Without it, there is nothing. Zero is not a number but nothingness, like the state of things before creation. Without one, there is nothing, what we will have then is chaos, confusion, disorderliness, confusion, formlessness and void. The easiest way to destroy any family, organization, whether political, religious, economical etc is to bring division among them. What led to the fall of many great Kingdoms today is division and self aggrandizement. Divided we must fall but united we must stand. Here, when one tries to fall, at least he rests on the shoulder of the other to rise again.
“How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” ( Psalm 133).
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to live in unity and peaceful co existence with one another Amen.
*Fr. Sanctus Mario*
3 days ago • REFLECTIONS
Morning Breakfast With the Word 29th May 2020
No one will claim not to love Jesus, of course we all love Jesus but when we go through this gospel we can certainly understand that loving Jesus is not mere by saying it. It is a task full of responsibilities.
Do you Love me more than these?
The first question here is what Jesus truly mean by *”these”*. To understand this we have to go back to the beginning of the chapter. First of all this happened after the resurrection and after a great miracle. Peter who with the other apostles toiled all through the night but could not catch any fish became hopeless, until Jesus came to the scene. The presence and instruction from Jesus changed the whole story. Peter was so surprised by this miracle, hence comes the question “do you love me more than these”?. Jesus here is pointing to the miracle of the great catch and probably other things He has done. Peter do you love me more than these miracles? We can then ask ourselves; “Is the love I have for Jesus only based on wonders and miracles? Is the love I have for Jesus only based on what He does for me? Can I sincerely love Jesus whether good or bad? Why did you lose faith? Am I working for Jesus because of what I will gain?
Secondly, by asking Peter this question, Jesus is telling us what true love is. Because it has not been long Peter denied Jesus, so the question would have been ” Peter why did you deny me?” How could you lie Peter? But here, Jesus is teaching us that true love bears no grudges. True love is shown in moments of betrayal, challenges and troubles. Such as God loves us even though we are sinners ( Romans 5:8).
If You Love Me
Peter, having denied the Lord three times, was also asked by the Lord three times. Jesus repeats the essential question, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” These three questions hit Peter like a repeated hammer. And three times Peter’s denial ” I do not know who He is” was changed to “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” Here the past was swallowed, despite the pains and denial, love won the victory. Love conquers all. The easiest way to end grudges, hatred etc is to show love. Love is not easily angered, love does not keep record of wrongdoing ( 1 Cor 13:5). To show you truly love Jesus, remember his command to love and forgive one another, it is the only way to show we are his disciples ( John 13:35). If you truly love Him, go back and burn the records of the past, the denials and betrayal and begin a new life. Love bears all and endures all things. ( 1 Cor 13:7).
My Lamb, My Sheep
It is noteworthy that three times the Lord responded to Peter’s affirmation of love, “Feed My lambs, Shepherd My sheep and Feed My sheep.” First, Jesus uses “my” to denote that the work Peter is going to do is not his but that of Jesus. The souls handed into our care are not ours but that of Jesus. Secondly “feed, shepherd” is a task to continually take care of these souls, guiding, protecting and keeping them from being lost. It entails caring for the well-being of the flock. Granted, some of the sheep can be stubborn, and difficult to handle. But if Jesus loved them enough to die for them, then we all have to love them, too. Not for our own sake but for the sake of Jesus.
If we say we love Jesus, there are souls around us who are following the wrong path, bring them back to God, there are others facing great challenges, encouraging them, there are many dying in hunger, we can touch their lives if we can. This we are doing not for our own sake but for the sake of the one we love; Jesus. Let us live in love, this is the only to show Jesus how much we love Him.
May God bless you dearest and give you the grace to love Him sincerely. May He never allow you to stumble Amen
*Fr Sanctus Mario*
3 days ago • REFLECTIONS
Morning Breakfast With the Word May 30th 2020
This is the last interaction Jesus had with his disciples in John’s Gospel. Today’s gospel follows from that of yesterday and ended with “follow me”. In today’s Gospel as Peter was following Jesus, He turned and saw the beloved apostle also following, Peter began to ask Jesus about the fate of the apostle, but Jesus reproached Peter saying “If it is my will that he remains until I come, what is that to you? Please follow me. Remember that Jesus has already in the previous verses talked about the type of mission and death awaiting Peter. Jesus’ statement about John surely indicates that there are different missions and fate awaiting both of them. Jesus did not certainly say that John would not die, because He said “if” which is conditional. Although John was the only apostle that died a natural death, Peter was crucified upside down according to tradition after refusing to be crucified like Jesus.
Our Journey is Different
This simply shows we have different fate and different missions to accomplish.
1 . Sometimes we spend our time thinking and worrying about the other person that we forget to follow our own journey, just like Peter was following, stopped and began to put eye in another person’s soup. I wonder what went on in Peter’s heart? Was he jealous of John’s close friendship with Jesus? Why is he so inquisitive to find out about the other person. Jesus’ response to Peter can be seen like this ” Oh Peter what is your concern about him, please face your own vocation” He asked Him what is that to you. Follow me.
- We have a different apostolate, just like Peter was called to Shepherd the flock and John wrote boldly that His, is to testify that all that happened is true. He concludes his Gospel by saying that he is “the disciple who testifies to these events and has written them.” John also testifies that his testimony is true.
- We have different fate, we have different journeys, and we have different missions. Some are meant to pass through a lot of challenges due to the nature of their call, let us be focused and not to complain away the blessings awaiting us at the end.
4 . Jesus told Peter to mind his own journey. This is good advice for all of us. Sometimes we are so much distracted and afraid of the other. Sometimes many try to imitate the other person, trying to do the way He does. We are unique. The worst mistake one can make is to be distracted to the extent of losing focus of what his own mission is.
5 . Also many times we base our own sense of self-worth by comparing ourselves to others. We either look at those whom we consider highly gifted, talented, spiritual and powerful and tell ourselves we are not or we look at those whom we consider to be so inferior, worldly and not to our level that we are superior. Both attitudes are dangerous and unproductive in our mission. When Peter did this Jesus scolded him and said “Peter, you mind your own journey and simply follow me.”
6 . There it is. Our task is to follow Jesus. He is the way. Let us serve with the different gifts God blessed us with. Our task is not to judge each other, criticize, imitate, trying to kick at the back but simply to face our own mission, to follow Jesus side by side, work for Him and help each other along the journey. If we do this, we will continue to blossom and the vineyard of God will continue to prosper. Beloved, do not be distracted.
May God give us the grace to understand why we are in this world. May He show you the way to survival. Amen
*Fr Sanctus Mario*
3 days ago • REFLECTIONS