“And they all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” Acts 2:11
WE celebrate Pentecost this Sunday, the birthday of the Christian Church. Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentekoste, which means fiftieth. Hence, we celebrate it on Sunday 50 days after Easter.
For us Christians, it was that “new” day when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles like a strong wind and tongues of fire, filling them with courage, zeal, and passion for the mission of Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world and every creature. The Acts of the Apostles tell that they miraculously began to speak in different tongues to impress on people’s minds Jesus’ intention to bring the heart of the Gospel to everyone.
I often ask people what this Gospel means, and as always, they answer that it’s the truth that God loves each one of us that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die on the Cross for our salvation. It’s not just about this truth, but also about the way of life that Jesus taught and showed us.
It’s living by the Holy Spirit that St. Paul describes in Galatians 5:16-25: a life filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s opposite of living in the flesh according to St. Paul, which involves immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, fury, selfishness, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, and the like.
Pentecost Sunday then becomes more meaningful to us if we remind ourselves to live by the Spirit. If we don’t live by the Spirit, we will condemn ourselves to sin, darkness, and war. This is why the Gospel, a life in the Spirit of Christ who is love, continues to be relevant today when the world experiences division, acts of selfishness, fury, hatred, antagonism, factionalism, quarrels, and all sorts of immorality. The rise of nuclear arms, the factions among countries, the bigotry, anger, disrespect and racism that we see in social media exemplify this phenomenon.
Let’s ask God for the outpouring of Holy Spirit into our lives and the world that our mouths would speak only of peace and love for everyone. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to unite countries and their leaders to bring solutions to conflicts, divisions, and wars. Let’s act as people that have God within us. Let the power of God’s love melt every fear, fury, hatred, selfishness, and pride in each of us. Let God’s wisdom reign in our hearts, minds, and the world. Let’s live in the light of the truth and inside God’s Spirit. Amen.
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.