Reflection: Pentecost

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Acts 2:1-11; Ps.103; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.12:3-7,12-13; Gospel – Jn.20:19-23]


When one reads the Scriptures, one is often amazed at how the same things are presented and told in different ways, different points of view but with a common, though seemingly different, conclusion.

Today’s gospel starts by telling us that the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jews. At the same time we are told that Jesus came and stood among them and they were filled with joy on seeing him. The disciples experienced the contrasting feelings from being ‘closed and afraid of the Jews’ to being ‘filled with joy’ when Jesus came and stood among them. In today’s readings we have the same story where the disciples receive the Holy Spirit, but we have two different versions of it.

In the first reading we hear that the coming of the Holy Spirit was a noisy and a colourful event. We are told that the noise filled the entire house in which the disciples were sitting.  Furthermore, to provoke our imagination, we are told that something like tongues of fire appeared to them which then separated and came to rest on each of their heads. As a consequence, they started to give evidence and began to speak foreign languages. In the gospel, the same story is told but without such imaginative aids. We are told that Jesus simply appeared and stood among them, assuring them that it was really him (by showing them his hands and his side) and after he gave them his “Peace” (for the second time), he told them what he was going to do with them – by sending them as Jesus himself was sent – and finally he breathed on them, giving them the Holy Spirit.

The action of receiving the Holy Spirit in the two accounts is quite different. But despite these differences, there are some important commonalities:

– The Holy Spirit is given from Heaven (or from Jesus)…

– The others receive the Holy Spirit because they decided to follow and stay close to Jesus as his disciples…

– The Holy Spirit gives the disciples the courage to speak (gift of speech) and to give evidence…

– The Holy Spirit also gives the disciples the opportunity to do things that only God can do (such as forgiving or the retaining of sins). In other words the Holy Spirit will work through them…

We too have received the Holy Spirit in our Baptism and then confirmed through the Sacrament of Confirmation. Although we do not know how we received him, we do know that we have the Holy Spirit because we are baptised… However, we also know that just having the baptismal certificate and the Confirmation are not enough for we also have to follow Christ and his teaching… until the end. We have to let the Holy Spirit work in us and – most important – work through us. Then what Paul says in today’s second reading will be true in our lives: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit”.

“Lord, you gave us the Holy Spirit. Give us the wisdom to let Him work in us and through us! Thank you Lord!”



Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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