Prophets to the world

Al Cariño, OMI
Editor: Mindanao Cross
Reproduced with Permission

Pentecost Sunday

Shortly after the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove. This was the Father's way of showing the people that His Son Jesus was His Anointed (the Christ). It also signaled the start of His ministry.

After the Ascension of Jesus, the Father acted again: He sent the same Spirit to the disciples “to teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn. 14:26). With this, they were now ready for their mission: to proclaim the "Good News" to the whole world. This happened on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the community of believers, i.e., the Church and through her, to each one of us. Thus, the Feast of Pentecost is also the feast of the birth of the Church.

Luke gave us a detailed account on how Pentecost took place (Acts 2:1-11). The disciples were then gathered in fear in one place. Suddenly they heard a sound like a strong driving wind. They then saw what seemed to be like tongues of fire rest on each of them. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they went out and spoke to the crowd which gathered outside as the Spirit prompted them. This bewildered them as they each one heard the disciples speaking in his own language: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?” The Spirit was already at work in bringing about the spread of the Church!

The reflections of scripture scholars can help us understand some of things that transpired during Pentecost. They see Luke make use of familiar but deeply meaningful images: a powerful noise, fiery tongues and the speaking of languages. This Luke did with the use of three verbs: the disciples heard a great noise, saw something that appeared to them like tongues of fire, and began to speak.

To hear, to see and to speak are the three aspects of a prophetic vocation. A prophet hears a voice (God's), he sees something (its manifestations), and he begins to speak. This is exactly what happened to the disciples at Pentecost. They received the power — that is, the Holy Spirit — who makes them come forward as prophets, namely, as “called by God to speak for Him.”

More specifically, the experience of Pentecost gave the disciples understanding, faith and courage. Before they received the Spirit, they lived in fear of the religious leaders of the Jews. They thus gathered secretly and only talked about the Risen Christ in whispers. But when they received the Holy Spirit, they went out into the streets to proclaim their faith in the Risen Lord even if they knew they could be persecuted or imprisoned for doing so.

Now, with great courage, the disciples spoke of the mighty works that the Father had done in Jesus as they had heard and seen while they walked with Him from the beginning of H is ministry till His ascension. They spoke of how God healed their life and changed it. God now had become a power within them, putting their hearts on fire. They could no longer keep silent. They were impelled to do these so that God through the Spirit would do to others as He did to them.

This is the great marvel of Pentecost: God is now a God of people, the God of all peoples. In turn, the people are to become God's. It is a message never heard of before. The crowd gathered outside heard the disciples speak this message. They understood it because it corresponded to their own desire — the desire of every human heart.

As Christians, we are called to be prophets. This, by virtue of our baptism when we received the gift of faith and by our confirmation when, like the disciples at Pentecost, we too received the Holy Spirit. As we grew up, we continued to hear and see with the ears and eyes of faith God's love for and acceptance of us. We have heard and responded to God's call to show our love for Him by loving others specially those in need. We have seen God's mercy at work in us by forgiving our sins and in the process, healing and changing us. All these and more for one purpose: to also make Jesus, who is the Lord of heaven and earth, be the Lord of our hearts and thus our salvation.

God has wrought all these mighty works in us through the Holy Spirit. Do we proclaim all these to others in word and deed so that they, too, will discover and accept God and His love for them?

Now is the time of the Holy Spirit. He is at work in the world in and through us. Let us cooperate with Him by opening our minds and hearts to Him. Then we can speak out to others about the wonderful and mighty works God has done in and for us so that they, too, will accept Jesus as Lord of their hearts and thus be their salvation.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!