Homily for Pentecost 2023 - Cardinal Michael

Posted on 29th May, 2023

Pentecost 2023


The Gospel passage for this Feast of Pentecost is short, but it is rich in content and worth meditating on. Let us imagine the scene. The disciples are gathered in the upper room. They must have been sad, depressed, because their Master had been put to death. The doors were locked. They were afraid, closed in on themselves. But suddenly Jesus comes among them and he greets them saying “Peace, Shalom”. This is more than just “Good evening” or “Hi everyone”. Shalom means well-being, harmony with God and harmony amongst themselves.


The disciples see that Jesus is not dead, but fully alive, and they are filled with joy. They are perhaps, even probably, beside themselves with joy, so Jesus says to them again “Peace” as if he were saying “Calm down, friends, because I have something important to tell you.”


He goes on: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” These followers of his who had abandoned him in his darkest hour, when he had been arrested, put on trial – a mock trial we could say – and made to suffer an atrocious death by crucifixion, are being sent to preach the good news of his Death and Resurrection for the salvation of the world. “As the Father sent me” - God the Father so loved the world that he sent his Son to bring us life in all its fullness – “so am I sending you”. “What us?” we could imagine the disciples saying, “We who are so weak?” 


But Jesus shows them that they will not be alone. He breathes on them and imparts to them the Holy Spirit. If I had been among the disciples, I might have protested at this breathing on me, but the breathing is important: when God created the first human being, after fashioning a form out of the dust of the earth, something very weak, he breathed into it, giving it life. Here Jesus is giving ‘new life’ to the weak disciples.


The disciples will receive the Holy Spirit again on the Day of Pentecost. And we have heard in the First Reading how powerful the impact of this Spirit is. The disciples remain no longer behind closed doors but go out into the streets of Jerusalem to bear witness to what God has done in Jesus Christ. And we see that their message is received.


“As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” We can apply these words of Jesus to ourselves: we have all received a mission, each one of us. And each one of us could ask the question: “What me? I am so weak, how could I be given a mission?” How are we going to fulfil this mission? Perhaps we do not know. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us discover what we should be doing with our lives.  Those of us who have received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation have already received the Holy Spirit, but we can always receive the Spirit more fully. Let us remember the example of our Mother Mary. At the Annunciation the angel greeted her: “Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you” This means that she was filled by the Spirit of God, but the angel went on to say: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… and so the child [that you are to bear] will be holy and will be called Son of God.”


 We can ask the Spirit to share with us the gifts that have been promised. As we have heard in the Second Reading: “There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord.” Jesus wished his disciples to be in Peace, and peace and harmony should characterize the Church, and each community of the Church. We are all walking and working together.


This is why on this Day of Pentecost we should be praying that all Christians may be one, one in their faith, hope and love, one in their mission. This is why on this day, this afternoon, there will be a walk of unity from the Anglican cathedral to the Metropolitan cathedral. All are welcome.


May we be attentive to the Holy Spirit, and so become ever more faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ. Amen.




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