(N.B. There are alternate endings for the vigil Mass and the Mass during the day)
Today is the fulfillment of all the mysteries of the Lord we have been celebrating all year, from his Nativity and his ministry to his Passion, death, and Resurrection. They all lead to that most wonderful of gifts to us, the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, our minds, our families, and in us assembled as church.
In the first reading from the book of Genesis we heard the story of the tower of Babel, and how the language of the people working there became so confused that they could no longer work together and were “scattered all over the earth.” So what went wrong with their project? Think back to the beginning of the reading. They said to themselves, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves.”
Jesus gives to his disciples this power to heal the world in the Gospel we hear today. He breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This is the same Holy Spirit which hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation. It is the same Holy Spirit which overshadowed Mary and conceived Jesus in her womb. And now this Holy Spirit is on us. It is an empowering Spirit, and Jesus describes the power that it gives: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain and retained.”