Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Church because it is the day the members of Christ’s Church were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the Gospel, which means Good News. Three thousand were baptised at Pentecost . From that day forward, the followers of Jesus began to fulfil the command to make disciples of all nations, through baptism and apostolic work. Without Pentecost, the Christ event would have remained imprisoned in history. Pentecost is the moment of empowering. The disciples are called to live in Christ’s Spirit and do His works. We are called to do so ourselves today.
Pentecost is born out of an intense experience of prayer in union with Mary and with Peter. The experience of Pentecost is one of unity and joy that transcends all ethnic and linguistic differences and is an expression of God’s universal love.
We remember particularly how the disciples were gathered in fear and confusion as they hid in the Upper Room. At that moment, they lacked a sense of outward mission and purpose. Christ then sent the Holy Spirit to them and a great transformation occurred.
The disciples were transformed. Courage replaced fear, as eleven of the twelve Apostles would ultimately die a martyr’s death. Understanding replaced confusion, and they gained a deep sense of purpose: they realized their experience of Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection was truly Good News and it needed to be shared. Their focus turned outward toward all those they were called to evangelise. They never returned to the Upper Room again!
The disciples began living the Church’s Great Commission from Christ: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” The early Christians were conscious of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit as the source of holiness, gifts of grace, and apostolic zeal.
Through the New Evangelisation we are reaching out again to those who have drifted away from the Church. Like the original disciples, we too rely on the power and grace of the Holy Spirit for our efforts. One can only really appreciate the beauty of the Church from the inside. The Church is a gift to mankind, which has been brought into being according to the eternal plan of God. Her mission is to continue Christ’s work of salvation. The Church is at the service of our authentic freedom by opening a window onto God and the eternal. The Church takes us beyond the limitations of this world; it points to the depths of God’s love for us. We must never tire of inviting people to come into the Church, to discover the beauty and light inside. Part of our mission is to build up the body of Christ, the Church, by being an inviting and welcoming community.
We are conscious of the fact that many Catholics here in the Archdiocese of Birmingham do not join us regularly for the celebration of the Sunday Mass . Much like the disciples on that first Pentecost, we see friends and relatives who are not deeply connected with our Church family. I ask you to continue to pray for those who are away from the Church, that their hearts may be opened to respond positively to our invitation. Continue to invite them to return home, reminding them that God has placed a longing for Him in their hearts and explaining that the community of faith suffers from their absence
We must remember that we can only share what we have received. In preparing to evangelize, we are called to conversion, which means continually to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ individually and as a Church. The Good News nurtures us, makes us grow, and renews us in holiness as God’s people. Conversion is on-going in the hearts of believers and it consists in knowing not just about Jesus, but in actually knowing Jesus. It comes about through the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us the grace to invite Jesus into our lives, to put on the mind of Christ by rejecting sin, and to accept the call to be ever more faithful Disciples of Christ in the Church. It is a fruit that comes from prayerful dialogue with Christ our Redeemer. Unless we undergo such a conversion, we have not truly accepted the Gospel. We know that people experience conversion in many ways. Some experience a sudden, shattering insight that brings rapid transformation. Some experience a gradual growth over many years. Others undergo conversion as they take part in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults — the usual way adults become members of the Church today. Many experience conversion through the ordinary relationships of family and friends.
Personal conversion for each of us will involve different steps depending on our relationship to Jesus and his Church. For those who practice and live our Catholic faith, it is a call to on-going growth and renewed conversion. For those who have accepted it only in name, it is a call to re-evangelisation. For those who have stopped practicing our faith, it is a call to reconciliation. For children, it is a call to be formed into disciples through the family’s faith life and religious education. Evangelisation involves handing on the faith to our own families; in other words, becoming mentors in this way of life to a new generation of disciples. As Saint Paul reminds us with passion, we are all called to be “ambassadors of Christ.
May I remind you that during this time I am only at the end of the phone and may I thank those who have phoned to ask after my well-being. Please continue to keep safe by observing the advice given by the Government.
Christopher J P Draycott