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Pentecost Sunday B

May 23, 2021

John 20: 19-23

By Rev. John Tran

I am reminded of an incident which shows very will this relationship of God to us through His Holy Spirit. There was a young wife and mother who suffered a severe stroke; although she somewhat recovered, she was left paralyzed on one side and had to always be in a wheelchair. She was also left with a crooked, distorted shape to her mouth, where before she had a beautiful smile. Her husband’s love for her had not changed, so he knelt down by the wheelchair and shaped his own mouth in the distorted shape of his wife’s. He kissed her and said, “You see, we still fit.” Like the husband, the Holy Spirit shapes his power to our crooked ways so that we can be worthy witnesses to God’s love. We can also bravely witness to Christ presence which is still in our world. It is more present when we shape our lives to his and be his mouth, hands and feet, in short, His life giving breath.

I read in a commentary that mystics have referred to the coming of the Holy Spirit as being kissed by God. This is a most intimate gesture which we associate with greeting someone we love very much. And, to think, that this is just the right symbol of God’s love for each of us as he sends hope and life to us after Jesus’ Ascension. Truly a kiss is the sign of a comforter, a Paraclete who cares for all of us and each of us in our own unique way.

As the second reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, not all of the first Christians were a like. The each had different gifts, they each came from different backgrounds and different races. They also were not perfect in their lifestyles or degree of virtue. Not much has changed today! Often, for us, Pentecost is just an elaborate liturgy and a festive meal. But to the first disciples Pentecost was very real.

The early disciples were also afraid of life without Jesus. They huddled together in upper rooms after Jesus died. They were afraid for their lives, that Roman or Jewish soldiers would come for them and kill them too. It is only when the risen Jesus came to them and gave them his Holy Spirit that they changed and went out to boldly preach the Good News. Again, not much is changed today. But think what we can do, each in our different way, if we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter who kisses us with the breath of new life.

An old beggar lay on his deathbed. His last words were to his young son who had been his constant companion during his begging trips. “Dear son,” he said, “I have nothing to give you except a cotton bag and a dirty bronze bowl which I got in my younger days from the junkyard of a rich lady.” After his father’s death, the boy continued begging, using the bowl his father had given him. One day a gold merchant dropped a coin in the boy’s bowl and he was surprised to hear a familiar ring. “Let me check your bowl,” the merchant said. To his great surprise, he found that the beggar’s bowl was made of pure gold. “My dear young man,” he said, “why do you waste your time begging? You are a rich man. That bowl of yours is worth at least thirty thousand dollars.”

We are often like this beggar boy who failed to recognize and appreciate the value of his bowl. We fail to appreciate the infinite worth of the Holy Spirit living within each of us, sharing His gifts and fruits and charisms with us. On this major feast day, we are invited to experience and appreciate the transforming, sanctifying, and strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit within us. This is also a day for us to renew the promises made to God during our Baptism and Confirmation, to profess our Faith, and to practice it.

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