Originally a Jewish harvest festival, Pentecost has become to us a celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Red is the color of the Holy Spirit, signifying life, energy (the “tongues of fire” is the image used in the Scripture). Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the church. Can you think why that might be?
It is through the Holy Spirit that we receive the gifts of God’s life in us. The Acts of the Apostles tells us that the gift of the Spirit made it possible for people gathered in Jerusalem for the feast to hear and understand the preaching of Jesus’ disciples who, because of the Spirit, had finally left their locked room and took to the streets to tell everyone of the Good News of Jesus.
Some parishes around the world mark Pentecost by having the readings done in different languages. Another good way to reflect on the importance of this day and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to think about how the gifts of the Spirit are present in us, in our life as a parish and in our homes. Gifts of the Spirit include patience, forgiveness, hope, courage, generosity of service (think of the various parish ministries: those we see at Mass and those that go on throughout the week such as visiting the sick, knitting prayer shawls and baptismal blankets, feeding the hungry, teaching our children, responding to issues of justice in our communities) and so much more.
For what gifts of the Spirit can you thank God in your own life? The many gifts you see in your neighbors, family members, and parishioners – can you thank God for them? Can you thank the people in whom you see these gifts? Such wonderful ways to celebrate the reality of God’s presence in our lives!
Fr. Paul Sullivan, SJ