The solemnity of Pentecost draws to a conclusion the Easter season, exactly fifty days after our Lord’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.   We know from Gospel reading that on the evening of Easter Sunday, shortly after Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to his disciples. He then commissioned them with these words, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21). With these words, He passes over the baton to His disciples and followers to continue the mission of evangelisation.

In this event, Jesus leaves us with two great gifts. First, He sends us the Holy Spirit by breathing on the disciples. The breath of God is life giving; just as Adam was brought to life by God’s breath, as during the Chrism Eucharistic Celebration, the bishop breathes on the oil and invokes the Holy Spirit upon the oil, making it the symbol of the Holy Spirit’s life-giving presence.

Second, He gave them the power to forgive sins. During the sacrament of reconciliation, the Holy Spirit is invoked and the opening line of the prayer of absolution goes “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.”

Then on Pentecost Sunday, the breath of God in the form of wind descends upon the apostles and disciples gathered together; “suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind and it filled the entire house, in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest upon each one of them.” (Acts 2:2-3) This powerful and visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit is still very much with us today, and is witnessed by the many miraculous healings when the Holy Spirit is invoked.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:4) While not everyone has the gift of tongues, nor the ability of language to proclaim the Word of God to all peoples of all nations, God has gifted each of us the ability to transcend all language and cultural barriers through the language of love. What better way to proclaim the Word of God than by putting the commandment to love your neighbour into action? Loving acts, done in the name of our Lord, speaks to the heart and has the ability to overcome language and cultural barriers.

While there are many different gifts of the Holy Spirit, we know that they are all given to us for our benefit; “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor 7).  Pentecost reminds us to invoke the Holy Spirit and to creatively utilise His gifts for the benefit of our neighbours. 

By Henry Seah, Oswald Song, Helen Yzelman