How can this world be renewed? It begins with us! If we are not renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit, how can we ever think of renewing the face of the earth? We need to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus so that we can transform the world with His truth and love.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Love. Only He can lead us into the fullness of truth and love. Only the Holy Spirit can bring lasting unity to the world. That was what the Spirit did at Pentecost. The Spirit brought all of humanity into one big family of God and that was how the Church was born.
We read that people of all nations were present when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. They heard the message that St Peter proclaimed in their own language. And three thousand were baptised on that day! The Spirit enlightened the minds of these people and they were docile to the sermon preached by St Peter. We read that their hearts were cut to the quick! They repented of their sins!
These tongues of fire that came upon the apostles remind us of the presence of God in the Old Testament. God’s presence is always enlightening, purifying, and cleansing. When Moses went up to the Mountain to receive the Commandments, there were strong winds, clouds, thunder, lightning, and fire. The tongues of fire symbolise the presence of God coming upon them. The Holy Spirit is a purifying agent because it enlightens us in the truth and brings about the forgiveness of sins. The Risen Lord’s first gift to the apostles was the power of discernment and judgement. “After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.” The power to forgive or retain sins has to do with the authority to judge. So the world needs the Holy Spirit to purify itself of ignorance and sin.
On the Feast of Pentecost, the Spirit is pouring forth new life into humanity and the world. Just as the Father at creation breathed life into man fashioned from the earth, so too, the Risen Christ breathed on the apostles and give them the New life of the Spirit. He granted them peace and the power to transform the world, set the world free from sin and evil.
We are also animated by the Holy Spirit to bring about the transformation of the hearts of mankind by our love and service, by announcing the truth and forgiveness and most of all, by embracing the diverse cultures of all, celebrating our diversity in unity. The Holy Spirit is given to us for this mission of being sent out to announce the Good News.
This is an abridged version of the message written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore, 31 May 2020.