Outpouring of God’s Love

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. Fifty days after the Lord’s resurrection, the disciples gathered in the upper room together with Mary when the Holy Spirit descended on them in the form of tongues as of fire. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to proclaim in different languages that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who died and resurrected. Thus began the great missionary journey of the Church.

While it may be inaccurate to say that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, Pentecost is certainly the birthday of the missionary Church. It was on this day that the apostles, emboldened by the Spirit, came out of their hiding place, and carried out the Lord’s mandate to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15)

Pentecost affords us a deeper understanding of synodality. The great themes of synodality, namely communion, participation, and mission, become a reality through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Communion. In baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit who makes his home in us and unites us to Christ by incorporating us into his Body, the Church. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ of which he is the head, and we are its members. Thus, through the Spirit we become one with Christ and with one another. The Spirit is the first principle and the deepest source of our communion because the Holy Spirit is no other than the love of God poured into our hearts. (Rm 5:2)

Participation. Because we are all members of the one Body of Christ, we are called to participate in its life and contribute to its growth. We actively participate not only in the liturgy, but in all aspects of the Church’s life, even in its administration and decision making.

Mission. Above all, we participate in Christ’s mission which he entrusted to the Church to continue and bring to fulfilment. In his encyclical letter, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis reminds us, “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples. All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization… we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries’, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples.” (EG, 120)

Every baptized is a missionary regardless of age. In fact, young people can even be more effective in the work of evangelization. Yesterday, I presided the Mass for the leaders of our parish social communications commissions. I exhorted them to rise above their usual tasks as documenters, parish correspondents and power point operators and challenged them to be digital missionaries. The internet is a vast digital continent inhabited by millions of netizens in need of evangelization. Who can better evangelize this world than the young themselves? They are in social media platforms like Facebook, twitter, and tik-tok with thousands of friends and followers. If what they post is something truly inspiring that comes from the Word of God or a spiritual experience (instead of selfies or a recent meal), more good can be done and more lives can be saved. With his thousands of followers and subscribers, the young digital missionary can reach far more people with his post in the internet than a priest with his homily in a Sunday Mass.

Even children are called to be missionary disciples. In a homily addressed to altar servers, Pope John Paul II said something to the effect, “Dear altar servers, I thank you for bringing light to the Church and to the altar. Continue to bring light even after Mass outside where there is greater darkness. Bring the light of Christ to your friends, classmates and anyone who does not know Christ.”

Pentecost is the coming of the Holy Spirit who is the love of God poured into our hearts. God fills us with his love so that it can overflow to those around us. This is the reason for mission. “Freely you received, freely give.” (Mt. 10:8)

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