Homily by Fr. Myroslav Vons on the Feast of Pentecost
June 4, 2023
This Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. The Book of Acts describes how this event took place — the apostles received the gift of preaching in different languages, they received the gift of love to proclaim the Good News to all people in every corner of the world at that time.
I invite you to reflect on today’s Gospel, where Jesus Christ, in response to and instructing the people, says: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’
Let us think, what do we associate with the word ‘light’?
Light is safety. For many of us, it is safer to travel during the day than at night. It is easier to see and navigate on the road. Children are afraid of the dark up to a certain age, and we leave the lights on for them as well. As the Gospel tells us, after the Lord’s Ascension, the apostles locked the doors of their house and prayed. They were confused and afraid. Until the Holy Spirit descended upon them, giving them a sense of confidence. They gained courage and went out to preach.
Light is hope. When the sun rises in the morning and its rays illuminate our homes, we rejoice because it gives us hope that today will be better than yesterday, that there will be changes and bring us success. The Holy Spirit that descended upon the apostles gifted them with the power to preach and became a source of hope for all people because ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ (Romans 15:13).
Light is life. Light is energy. Without the sun, which gives us warmth, light, and energy on Earth, there would probably be no life. In Psalm 103, we pray: ‘When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.’
Light is the center of community. People gather around light. Let us remember our time spent in nature, our camps, when in the evening we all gather around the campfire and talk, sing songs, joke… We feel unity in those moments.”
“Light is indescribable joy. The joy of seeing the boundless ocean, snow-capped mountains, and rain; seeing your children and grandchildren grow; seeing your parents; witnessing the works of the Lord that He performs every day. The Holy Spirit grants us joy: ‘We are sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, yet possessing everything’ (2 Corinthians 6:10).
Light is Christians. When we see a person with a cheerful disposition, who is open to communication, caring, and supportive, someone who can rejoice and mourn together, who loves God and people, who knows how to pray — we call such a person a light. Through constant communion with God, such a person seems to carry this light. Let us recall how Moses descended from the mountain after communing with God, and his face shone with light. Many saints of our Church were luminous people because they knew how to listen to the heavenly whispers and were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ tells us, ‘Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.’ Follows, meaning sees the figure of Jesus Christ. Follows, because they trust the Holy Spirit, who guides them, for our compass is Jesus Christ, the One to whom our gaze should be directed when we embark on a journey. He is the One who goes ahead and illuminates our path. He is the center of our community gathered here for prayer today.
But are we truly following Christ, or are we wandering in spiritual darkness? This already depends personally on each one of us. What do we need to do to have the strength to walk and not get lost?
And here is a very simple advice: in order not to get lost, we need to use the instructions, have a map. God is the greatest Creator, and His instructions are the simplest and clearest.”
Therefore, the instruction is as follows:
Believe and act, for faith without deeds is dead (James 2:17). We must remain “firm and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard” (cf. Colossians 1:23).
Be active in your spiritual life. Only through the action of the Holy Spirit can we be active. Let us remember: the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, and they rose, began to testify and actively preach, and 3,000 people were converted (cf. Acts 2:1–47; 23).
Listen to the Lord and share your thoughts and experiences with Him, not being afraid to say: “Lord, it scares me to listen to You and follow You, to speak the truth, to be different, to live as You taught. But I believe that just as You helped Abraham and Moses, You will help me; as You forgave the apostle Peter, You will forgive me; as You saved the thief on the cross, You will save me.”
Frequent the Sacrament of Confession, at least once a month. God never turns away from us when we commit sins. When we confess in the Sacrament, it is as if we “converse with Christ—by the power of the Holy Spirit—under the maternal care of the Church” (Catechism “Christ Our Pascha”). Through immeasurable and boundless love, Christ extends His helping hand through the Sacrament of Confession so that we can repent, rise, and move forward: “Therefore, repent and do what you did at first” (Revelation 2:5).
Receive the Holy Eucharist worthily, that is, partake in Holy Communion. Jesus Himself says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Finally, know that following Christ will not be easy. The Lord does not say that when there is light, darkness will not attack you, but He says that whoever follows Him will not wander in darkness. There will be many trials, troubles, and it may seem that the whole world and everyone is against us. In those moments, amidst all of this, will we still hear the voice of the Savior speaking, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life”? Or will we stop hearing Him and wander in darkness?
Often people say that God has stopped speaking to them. In reality, it is the person who has stopped wanting to hear that heavenly whisper, the Holy Spirit; it has become uncomfortable for them to hear the voice of God. However, the Lord never tires of speaking to us, and the Holy Spirit never ceases to bestow His gifts. Jesus Christ is always near; He weeps with us when we are sad and rejoices with us in moments of joy. He promises that we will live eternally when we follow Him. He is that Light that never goes out and shines even brighter when the darkest days come into our lives.
Saint John Chrysostom says, “So, if we wish to be happy, let us avoid evil and practice virtues since there is no other way to obtain joy, even if we were to sit on the throne of a king. That is why Paul warned, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace’ (cf. Galatians 5:22). Therefore, by zealously preserving this fruit within us.