Pentecost Sunday - Year C - 15th May, 2016

The Birthday of the Church

 

The Feast of Pentecost is a most important celebration in our Church calendar.. Second in importance only to Easter. Pentecost (fiftieth day after Easter) commemorates the occasion on which the Holy Spirit came down upon Apostles, empowering them to bear witness to their faith. The Acts of the Apostles recounts the extraordinary success which the Apostles experience in attracting new members to the faith. All this success was attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit poured out into their lives on Pentecost.

 

For many people our church today is in crisis. So many ignore the church’s teaching. Many young people have abandoned coming to Mass on a regular basis. Vocations are declining. All of this causes heart searching, if not panic, among the committed.

 

Many people yearn for the securities of bygone days. But the church is an instrument of God's presence in the world, and in a world of ever quickening change, the church must be attuned to it so that the essential values and power of Christ permeates everyday life in our time. To bring this about is the daunting task facing all of us who follow Christ.

 

It is the same task that faced the first disciples. Believing that they were under attack after Christ's departure, their initial response was to hole up in the upper room to protect themselves and their beliefs. Then came the magnificent outpourings of the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost day.

 

The Spirit is not given to us so that we can sit down in our living rooms and enjoy our 'spirituality’ or private prayer. The Spirit is given for a purpose. As today's readings present it, the Spirit sends us on a mission.

 

We have to have confidence and realise that, whatever transitions we are going through, this is not because the Holy Spirit has gone away. He is still with us and will undoubtedly guide us through the difficulties ahead.

 

We don't have rushing winds and tongues of fire today but the breath of God is still active. Steady, constant, animating our every action, if we let it. Day in, day out, God's breath flows through us. Day in, day out, it keeps us going, fills us with vitality so that we, too, may be His witnesses toward all we meet.

 

The Feast of Pentecost is indeed the birthday of the Church but there are many more birthdays ahead for the Church, many more challenges to face.

 

Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

 

Fr Kevin O'Shea, C.M.