Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pentecost: Sin, Righteousness, and Condemnation

     Pentecost. The birth of the Church, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the day of enlightenment.  Jesus told his disciples at the last supper that where he is going they cannot go, but he will send them the Advocate, the Spirit of truth.

"But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned." John 16 7-11

     Sin, because they do not believe in me. The spirit will convince us of sin because of our lack of belief in Jesus. Think about it, God, the creator of the universe, humbled himself and became a human being. He walked with us, dined with us, and in the end, he only was able to convert a small number of people to believe in him.  Their faith was weak, they did not believe in him.  In the same way, today we encounter a world that is full of violence, oppression, greed, lust, power, selfishness, and so on.  It is evident that this world is sinful, and we are naive in thinking that just because those of us who are blessed enough to believe in him are free from sin.  Even more so are we held accountable for our sinfulness: to whom much is given, much more is expected.
     Righteousness, because I am going to the father, and you will no longer see me. The way in which he was to go to the father was certainly not an easy way.  In fact it was the way of a shameful death, just outside the gates of the garbage dump of Jerusalem; the king of the universe was nailed to a tree next to one of the largest cesspits of the known world. Yet, in this death, life was born; sin and death have been conquered, the new way has been opened up for us. In his return to the father he was justified.  No matter how shameful, how embarrassing his death was, in returning to the father, all was made right again; his mission of love came to completion: from the cross into death, into the depths of hell, back to earth to spread the good news to his disciples, and finally the ascension back to his father, back home. Now, at the right hand of the father, all is realized; all is justified--the journey is complete.
     Condemnation because the ruler of this world has been cast out. By the completion of the paschal mystery, satan, the ruler of this world, was cast out, he was condemned. That which had gone wrong from the beginning was rectified. In the garden Adam and Eve were led astray by disobeying God and falling for the deception of the evil one by eating from the tree.  Now, in the garden of Calvary, God himself is nailed to a tree to become the food for all. The evil one was at this tree too, but this time, the one being tempted was without sin, was without blame, was the Son of God, was the unblemished lamb.  And this time, the evil one had lost.  Banished from this world forever, that at the name of Jesus, even the demons must obey, and fall to their knees.
     This Pentecost, let us pray that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts and continues to guide and sanctify the Church.  Let us pray for a deeper conviction of sin, righteousness, and condemnation. That we may be filled with the grace to continue the work of the Church on earth, and truly change the word in which we live in. In the same way that Peter, and the other disciples did, despite their persecutions, death threats (and eventual deaths) were able to convert thousands at a time.  Let us pray that we may be able to bring the truth of the Holy Spirit to those who have already heard the name of Jesus, and who do not believe, or who believe partially, or who even go to mass regularly but still live a lifestyle contrary to the gospel, or who have become stale and complacent in their faith.  Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love, send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.


  1. Beautiful as usual!!! I think you're so right in highlighting the fact that awareness of our sinfulness is so crucial in order to further Christ's ministry on earth, even though we believe it doesn't free us from this painful fact of the human condition: that we are sinful creatures. Not recognizing this renders us unable to interact with others in the world and bring the light of Christ to them. I think it's so important to remember also that being given the gift of faith calls us to a higher responsibility - to love more like Christ and to give more of ourselves, all of ourselves, to him. It's so easy at times when our hearts have grown colder and our faith has become habit to look at our faithless friends and think "well at least I'm doing better than they are." Thank you for this reflection that we are meant to set the world on fire!!

  2. Anthony, this is so beautiful. We have heard, read, and spoken about the Crucifixion of Christ so many times. As I read this post, I was reminded in a very real way of how beautiful this act of Love is. There are elements about it that you have included that I often glaze over, or forget about. "In fact it was the way of a shameful death, just outside the gates of the garbage dump of Jerusalem; the king of the universe was nailed to a tree next to one of the largest cesspits of the known world." It is a simple sentence, but it really resonated with me. My entire family entered the Church 16 years ago on Pentecost Sunday. It has always been such an important day to me. Thank you for the reminder of how absolutely essential the Holy Spirit is to evangelization.