At Christmas we celebrated with great joy as we recalled the birth of Jesus all of 2000 years ago. Expectations were high that the Son of God who took on human form would indeed be the Saviour of his people.
At Easter we celebrated the resurrection of the Lord and that told us that Jesus had, in fact, fulfilled his mission, that the blessing of salvation was indeed available to humankind.
At Pentecost we celebrate the great truth that the fruits of what Jesus accomplished are being made available to us because the Spirit of God is with us. Salvation is for real.
The descent of the Holy Spirit breathed life into a group of disciples that wondered if its day was done. But now all was changed. They became enthusiastic and zealous missionaries.
We are all gifted in some way by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us there are different gifts and all are called to use these gifts in the service of the Lord and of the community. The gifts are given to us as St. Paul says ´for a good purpose´.
All these gifts are geared towards mission, they are for mission. It is a gift in itself of course to be called to mission, to be able to participate in the ongoing work of the Lord. And because missionary work has many different aspects to it people are gifted in different ways. The building of a house requires a wide range of skills and similarly the work of preaching the good news of salvation needs the different talents and skills of all the members of the community.
The feast of Pentecost gives us a sense of our belonging not just to a local community but to a community (Church) that carries out its mission throughout the world. It is the same Spirit who encourages and directs each and every one of the local communities.
Some people refer to Pentecost as the birthday of the church because it was on this day that the disciples felt empowered to go forth and proclaim enthusiastically the good news of salvation.
It would be a useful exercise at Pentecost for each one of us to identify/discern the gifts which we have received from the Holy Spirit for the furtherance of the mission. How well are they being used? Does an opportunity exist to use these gifts ´for a good purpose´?
And a word of caution: let us not fall into the trap of thinking that only the members of the Christian community are gifted by the Holy Spirit. Wherever people, of whatever affiliation, seek truth and justice, are concerned for the welfare of others, are good neighbours, the Spirit of God is present in their lives too.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.