On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said his, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
—John 20: 19-23
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created and they shall renew the face of the earth.”
That is a prayer invoking the Holy Spirit, the Advocate (the Paraclete) the Helper. Today, the whole Church commemorates with joy the coming and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the disciples in a locked room.
The Spirit of God has been promised by Jesus to his disciples so they may not be afraid when he goes back to the Father. God the Father had sent the Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth and has came down and had stayed since then. The solemnity of Pentecost (fifty days after the Resurrection) is one of the great and major feasts of the Church and is considered as the beginning of the Church. Traditionally, it is celebrated as the birth of the Church, the beginning. There was no Church during the time of Christ but only the temple in Jerusalem and the synagogues.
“Peace be with you”
Peace in Hebrew is “shalom” and in Arabic is “salaam,.” It means, may you be whole and calm, may you not be afraid or disturbed. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord again and fulfilled his promise. Jesus their master who rose from the dead and had never abandoned them.
When the Holy Spirit came down, the disciples went forth and had made disciples. It is the Spirit that led and sustained the disciples in their task of proclaiming the good news to all nations. The authority of Jesus was given to his disciples and to their leader, Peter. The Lord Jesus told them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said his, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The mandate was very clear. The Lord Jesus had only mandated his disciples, the disciples led by Peter and his followers.
Today, the Church founded by the apostles is still around, growing and flourishing as it is the Church that has been and will always be sanctified and guided by the Spirit of God.
The true Church is the one that has Christ as its very foundation. There is only one Church, the one that was built by the apostles of Christ. It is an apostolic Church. Since it is from God, it is holy, a holy Church. Since it is only one, it is catholic, which means universal. The Holy Spirit, during Pentecost, had given birth to the community of faith, hope, and love with Christ who is its head.
The disciples have seriously taken the mandate “to go and make disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” through centuries; the Church has reached all corners of the world because of the fulfillment of this mandate.
Through and by our baptism, all Christians have already received the Holy Spirit, but have we grown in the Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit present and working in our lives? Has the Holy Spirit descended upon our families and communities? Can we really know whether the Holy Spirit is in us? There are certain signs, attributes, and indicators that can help us discern if the presence of the Holy Spirit is in us. For instance, we can through our ways of living and by our attitudes to life.
The Holy Spirit will enlighten us if we live in Him. If we follow the commandments of God in love, then the Spirit whom the Father had sent would be always be there for us. Every moment must be a life with and in the Spirit, every breath, every beating of our hearts, every grace we receive.
Let us pray, reflect and ask ourselves:
Do I receive the Spirit of God daily through the people around me and the whole of creation?
Does God live in my heart?
Do I live my life with zest and vigor? Am I fully alive in the Lord?
Do I work and contribute to the life of the Church—the people of God and community of disciples?
Almighty and Ever-living God, open our hearts and minds so we receive your wisdom to understand and accept you wholly. May we always be whole and in peace in your grace so we can be nourished and sustained by your Spirit. May we be renewed in the Spirit so we may live always in your loving presence and peace. This we ask through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen.
Let us pray for the one, holy, apostolic and catholic Church that she may be truthful to her task and mission given by our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray most especially those who are lost and confused, may the Spirit enlighten them and guide them to the right way, the path towards God.