Today, Pentecost Sunday is the day we celebrate the birth of the Catholic Church. From this day when the Holy Spirit enkindled the hearts of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles, the Church began to grow. As the Apostles went out into the world to preach the gospel message to all the nations, Christ through his Church was with them.
Before Pentecost they were simple men, but after the Spirit came upon them, they were men of self-sacrifice and full of great strength. In the book, The Spirit of Catholicism, Karl Adam says, “Twelve simple, uneducated fisherman revolutionized the world, and that with no other instrument than their new faith and their readiness to die for that faith.”
On the day of Pentecost, the Table of the Nations in Genesis 10 is being reunited (reunification) and the Tower of Babel is being undone in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the restoration of the family of mankind under one language, not a literal language, but the “language” of the Holy Spirit. From that moment till today, the Church has become the universal means of salvation for all nations.
No one knew the message of Pentecost better than Pope St. John Paul II, who as Holy Father traveled far and wide across the globe, much further than any of the Apostles originally traveled, to bring the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to nations and continents.
Being that this is the first Pentecost since his canonization, below are 5 quotes from Pope St. John Paul on today’s solemnity. Each one is packed with great wisdom focusing on the importance of the Church as a mission.
Pope St. John Paul II – Pentecost 1982 in the United Kingdom.
“The Church of Christ is always, so to speak, in a situation of Pentecost: she is always gathered in the Upper Room in prayer, and at the same time, driven by the powerful wind of the Spirit, she is always on the streets preaching” (June 8, 2003).
“On the day when we celebrate the memorial of the Church’s birth, we want to express heartfelt gratitude to God for this twofold, and ultimately one, witness, which has involved the great family of the Church since the day of Pentecost. We want to give thanks for the witness of the first community of Jerusalem which, through the generations of martyrs and confessors, has become the inheritance of countless men and women down the ages around the world” (June 10, 2000).
“Mary Most Holy, since Pentecost you have kept watch with the Church as she prays for the Holy Spirit: remain with us at the centre of our extraordinary Upper Room. To you, whom we venerate as Our Lady of Divine Love, we entrust the fruits of the City Mission, so that through your intercession the Diocese of Rome may offer the world a convinced witness to Christ our Saviour” (May 22, 1999).
“How can we not give thanks to God for the wonders the Spirit has never ceased to accomplish in these two millenniums of Christian life? Indeed, the event of grace at Pentecost has continued to bear its marvellous fruits, everywhere instilling apostolic zeal, a desire for contemplation, the commitment to live and serve God and our brothers and sisters with complete dedication” (May 31, 1998).
“In the Acts of the Apostles, St Luke describes the extraordinary manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as a communication of the very vitality of God who gives himself to men. This divine gift is also light and power: light, to proclaim the Gospel, the Truth revealed by God; power, to infuse the courage of witnessing to the faith, which the Apostles begin at that very moment” (May 18, 1997).
Let us pray…Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle us the fire of your love. O Lord, on this day of Pentecost, give us the grace and strength to go forth from our homes and parishes to bring the Gospel message to the world we encounter each day of our lives. Amen.