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Thoughts to Live by | Pentecost Sunday

by Cardinal Orlando Beltran Quevedo, O.M.I, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cotabato

On this day we remember the Coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-11).

The Apostles and disciples are gathered together in a house in Jerusalem for the the days of Pentecost. Suddenly a loud noise comes from the sky, like "a strong driving wind," that fills the whole house. "Tongues as of fire" appear and rest on each one of them (vv. 1-3). They are filled with the Holy Spirit. They begin speaking in different tongues, "as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim" (v. 4).

There are many Jews who have come from the far north and south, east and west of Palestine, to be in Jerusalem for the festival. They hear the sound of the mighty wind and are astounded. The Apostles and disciples, though Galileans, are speaking in the different tongues they speak! They are proclaiming the "mighty acts of God" (vv. 5-11).


Celebrated on the 50th day from Easter Sunday, Pentecost marks the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:5; Jn. 14:16-17; Lk. 3:16). Pentecost, known as the Feast of Weeks, is from the Greek word meaning "50th," referring to the Jewish festival 50 days after Passover. It is also called the feast of the Harvest (Ex. 23:16).

At Pentecost, about 120 followers of Jesus are gathered in a house. They are led by the 12 Apostles with Mary. While they are speaking in different tongues, Peter proclaims to the Jews the meaning of this extraordinary event. It is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-29. It is the beginning of a continual outpouring of the Holy Spirit for all Jews and Gentiles alike. For us, the age of the Church begins.

The Holy Spirit

We profess, "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life." He is the 3rd person of the Blessed Trinity, the last Divine Person to be fully revealed (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 684). But like the Son, the Holy Spirit has always been with the Father from all eternity. "He is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of our salvation" (CCC , 686).

In the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus declared, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the afflicted..." (Lk. 4:18-19; see Is. 61:1-2).

Jesus was Spirit-filled and Spirit-driven throughout his life. On special occasions, the Holy Spirit appeared and affirmed him in his mission, as at his Baptism and in his Transfiguration. After all, he had been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is is the Holy Spirit who reveals Christ. In turn, Christ alludes to the Holy Spirit in many ways (e.g., as the "finger of God" in Lk. 11:20; see Mt. 12:28).

Jesus finally reveals the Holy Spirit fully after his resurrection. Then he gives the Holy Spirit to his Apostles by "breathing" on them, saying, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn. 20:21).

The Mighty Wind

In Hebrew, "spirit" means "ruah," breath or air or wind. Thus, the "mighty wind" on Pentecost Sunday indicated the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also calls the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, the Advocate, and the Spirit of truth.

The Holy Spirit appears as a cloud in the Transfiguration (Lk. 9: 34-35) and in the Ascension (Acts 1:9; Lk. 21:27). He appears in the form of a dove at the Baptism of Jesus (Lk. 3:22) and like "tongues as of fire," at Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:3). Jesus uses the figure of "fire" to refer to the Holy Spirit (Lk. 12:49).

God's Spirit of Love

At Pentecost, it is the love of God, his Spirit of Love, that is poured out in abundance into our hearts. The first effect is the forgiveness of our sins and the restoration of communion with God (CCC, 734).

Grafted once more into the Vine, we bear "the fruit of the Spirit.... love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23). "We live by the Spirit... walk by the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25). We are God's children (see today's 2nd reading, Rom. 8:8-17).

It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us with spiritual gifts (see 1 Cor. 13:4-11) and intercedes for us, helping us in our weakness, when we do not know what to pray for (Rom. 8:28-27). He dwells in us. "Do you not know that you are temples of the Holy Spirit?" (1 Cor. 3:16).

He is the Spirit of renewal. We pray to him to renew the face of our families and communities, the face of our nation, the face of the earth.


O Holy Spirit, breathe on me and enkindle the fire of your Love in my heart. Confirm my faith, that I may zealously and devotedly assist the afflicted, strengthen the weak and the wavering. Keep me humble and poor as Jesus. Lead me by your grace, that I may be always pleasing to you. This I ask through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Based on a prayer of St. Augustine of Hippo).

Happy Pentecost Sunday! Prayers, best wishes, God bless!

N. B. Tomorrow is Monday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time. The Easter Candle is transferred to the Baptistry.

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