Being sent like Jesus: A homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost

Solemnity of Pentecost. June 8th 2014
Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7,12-13; Jn 20:19-23

Being sent like Jesus.

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

When I went shopping for a new cell phone some months ago, a sales agent tried selling me a particular phone. With great excitement, he said to me, “Father, this phone is hot in the market and I completely recommend it. With this phone, you can block the numbers of those who you do not want to disturb you. Their calls to you will never get through and their text messages will go right into your spam box.” Though I decided to pass on his offer, I must confess that he got my attention with that advertising pitch. He almost got me to buy a phone whose most attractive feature was blocking out unwanted callers.

Wouldn’t life be a little bit more peaceful if we could just block out a few undesirable people in our lives? Maybe we are used to blocking others out of our lives. Maybe we have already blocked many of them from our social media. But do we realize what we are missing out when we choose to block people out of our lives?

In today’s Gospel passage, before breathing the Holy Spirit forth on His disciples, the risen Christ says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” How was Jesus sent by the Father? Jesus tells us that He is the one whom “the Father consecrated and sent into the world.” (Jn 10:36) He was consecrated by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the moment of His conception. What did Jesus do with this Holy Spirit that He possessed in its fullness? This Spirit was not for Him but for all of us. By the Holy Spirit, we all find in Jesus Christ complete and unhindered access to the Father. Jesus made this clear in these words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.”(Lk 4:18)

Throughout His earthly life, Jesus remained a man of deep peace not just because He possessed the Spirit in its plenitude within Him but also because He became for all who came to Him complete access to the Father. In Him we all find forgiveness for sins, a sharing in the divine life, a participation in His divine sonship, a participation in His graces, merits and virtues, and the full truth about God. In Him we become children of God and heirs of heaven. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. He never blocked any one away from this access to God. Even in the throes of His death pangs on the Cross, He granted the repentant thief complete and immediate access to the Father when He said to him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.”

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus grants us the same Holy Spirit too so that we too can provide for others access to the Father no matter what we face in this life and thus know His deep and abiding peace. The disciples received the Holy Spirit in today’s Gospel passage so that they may become channels through which others will receive divine mercy and be reconciled to God: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The disciples will no longer live behind closed doors “in fear of the Jews” if they enjoyed the peace that comes from receiving the Holy Spirit and become channels of communion between God and others. In the Church as a whole and in their individual lives, the disciples, and we after them, will be people of peace as long as others find access to God through contact with us all.

The Acts of the Apostles shows us St. Luke’s version of the Pentecost event. The Spirit fills the disciples with the gift of tongues so that they begin to proclaim the “mighty acts of God” in different languages. The Spirit’s gift of tongues was not for them alone but was given to them so that the “devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem” could hear about God’s mighty deeds in Jesus Christ for the very first time in their native language. They are drawn to the Spirit-filled disciples, listened to the words of St. Peter and about three thousand of them become the first converts to Christianity.

Let us reflect on the words of St. Paul to the warring Corinthians in today’s Second Reading, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” The Spirit is not giving for egotistic quarreling and fighting. Neither is it given to make some people elite Christians among inferiors. But this Spirit is given to build up others in their own relationship with God. The Christian enjoys peace not just by reception of the Holy Spirit but being faithful channels of communion between God and others.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Spirit filled our souls at the moment of Baptism, we were further fortified with His presence in Confirmation. Every sacramental encounter also bestows on us an outpouring of the Spirit. Why then do we lack peace in our hearts? Why then do we live in fear and worry? Why then do we let anger conquer our hearts and allow resentment and bitterness prevail in our relationships? Receiving the Holy Spirit is not enough to guarantee us peace. We must first reject that temptation to block others away from us for whatever reason. How can we do this?

Reflecting on the offer that I received to buy a cell phone that could block many away, I pondered, “Why did I receive the Holy Spirit in the first place in my priestly ordination? Was it so that I could block people out of my life?” Maybe we need to remind ourselves often why we continuously receive the Holy Spirit, what this Spirit wants to do in us and the peace that we forfeit when we succumb to the temptation to block others away from us. These reflections may help us choose to provide for others that path to God that has loved us so much to dwell within us. If we reflect to all people the divine forgiveness, generosity, hope, patience, and gentleness that the Spirit brings to us, we shall surely have a peace that is not conditioned on earthly situations but rooted in the Spirit’s active presence within and our willingness to serve as His own channel of grace to others.

This Pentecost Sunday, let us turn to Mary, Queen of Peace. Jesus was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. She knows better than any of us humans how powerful the Spirit can be in our lives. She did not have peace just because she received an intense outpouring of the Spirit. She is indeed Queen of Peace because she was ready to go to whatever extent to bring us to God within her. In haste she went to visit Elizabeth, providing her relative with access to the God-Man who dwelt in her womb. Through Mary, Elizabeth realized that God was so close to her, in the womb of her little relative before her: “Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth’s contact with God redounded to Mary’s growing peace. May Mother Mary help us to follow her footsteps and enjoy that peace that Jesus Christ offers to us in His Spirit.

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” We receive the Holy Spirit again at this Mass this Pentecost Sunday. Deep abiding peace will be ours in this troubled world if we do not block others from us but let them find in us complete access to the God who love us so much to dwell within us.

A blessed and Peaceful Pentecost to you all!

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!

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About Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV

Welcome to my blog. I am Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV, a Roman Catholic priest and religious of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. I am involved in the Retreat ministry and in formation work in our seminary in Antipolo, Philippines. This blog is called toquenchHisthirst because its goal is to remind us of God's thirst for our love made present in the face of Jesus Christ in the midst of all the sins, pains and suffering of mankind today. Please read and comment respectfully.
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2 Responses to Being sent like Jesus: A homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost

  1. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    #1
    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    #2
    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

    • Hello my brother and God bless you. I am a little bit confused with your argument so please pardon me if I misinterpret you message. It is not right to oppose love of God above all things and love of neighbor. Our love for God is made concrete in our love for neighbor. True love for neighbor is from the fact that “God has loved us first.” (1Jn4:7-21) Love of God cannot be contrasted with genuine love for neighbor. See 1Jn 4:20. In addition, true love for God must be for the sake of God who has loved us first. In this way, our love for neighbor can never go against the love we profess for God because we will then be loving our neighbors as God wills us to do, in accordance with His Commandments. This is the sense in which St. Paul says that love is the fulfillment of the law. I cannot see how you can accept Jesus and oppose Paul. Didn’t Paul say that Christ lives in him? I hope that this helps to clarify things for you.

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