Vol. 167 No. 20 - May 14 - May 20, 2016
Pentecost- the culminating feast of Easter - is not merely celebrating the 'birthday of the Church'' it is also the ongoing proclamation of the power of 'being the Church', of daring to live the life of Christ into which we are born by baptism through the power of His Spirit. The first Pentecost evokes the scene that stirs up the dead bones of that first little community of Jerusalem so that it comes alive, stands up and goes forward to the ends of the earth with the good news of the Risen Christ.
The faith experience of this event is too great a mystery for Luke to describe, so he gropes for comparisons. The surging power unleashed is like a wind and fire that fill the house of those who have gathered to await the Spirit whom Jesus has promised. This spiritual phenomenon takes this community and every community of believers beyond complacency and despair, enabling them to discover the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus and daring them to live it.
In the small, shaken, but inspired community that had huddled in the Upper Room, the disciples experience the coming of the Holy Spirt upon them– who is the love of the Father and the Son 'at home' with them, dwelling intimately within the community of believers, the Church. The Spirit is the enduring reality of Jesus' words and deeds and the One who urges the disciples to proclaim these to the world. The Spirit is present whenever we manifest heroic courage in living the gospel.
We therefore have the imagery of tongues of fire that proclaim the Risen One, in whom diverse people will be forged into a unity, and all false pride in race and culture destroyed. This is why after the coming of the Spirit, the disciples go out to speak to the pilgrims that that had thronged from different parts of the world for the festival. No matter what their language was, all heard them in their own language and praised the Lord in unison. There is a reversal of Babel for the people of God.
Pentecost signifies that for our contemporary church and society, there is still a great need to be able to hear what the other is saying and to communicate in a language that can be understood. Bishops need to listen to what people are saying: the government needs honesty rather than the language of political subterfuge and the media needs to speak without hysteria and sensationalism. The Church needs to preach the gospel and celebrate liturgy in all known languages of the human race.
If there isn't any widespread experience of such an outpouring of the Spirit, it is because we focus more on extraordinary gifts like speaking in tongues and being gifted with sensational powers of healing. There are also ordinary gifts of the Spirit that bring inner healings to the broken soul, empower us to forgive, be faithful and pray sincerely, honestly and powerfully. The Spirit can bring us back to a living faith - a renewed trust in God. We open ourselves to Spirit when we reach out to one another and when we appreciate the magnificence of God's presence in our life.
The outpouring of the Spirit is a continuing event that dares us to become a community of fire, who will keep the flame of missionary passion for God and for the world burning strongly, even in the darkest nights. Pentecost calls us to become a strong wind that blows the good news of the Risen life of Christ to the world, proclaiming with Pentecostal power about the One who will never fails us.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21-22). The gift of the Spirit on the evening of the Resurrection, took place once again on the day of Pentecost, intensified this time by extraordinary outward signs. On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22); on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple and the Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace and her smile, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus.
The word of God, especially in today’s readings, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit: He guides us into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), He renews the face of the earth (Ps 103:30), and He gives us his fruits (cf. Gal 5:22-23).
In the Gospel, Jesus promises His disciples that, when He has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to guide them into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13). Indeed He calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth”, and explains to His disciples that the Spirit will bring them to understand ever more clearly what He, the Messiah, has said and done, especially in regard to His death and resurrection. To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event. At first they were paralyzed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would
The Spirit of God is active and alive. In order to grasp the action of the Spirit in us, it is necessary to take a look at Jesus. The Spirit was present even before His birth, and ever after leading Him to the desert and consecrating Him for His mission among the people.
A Life in the Spirit
St Luke has accurately traced how the Spirit was at work at the annunciation (Lk 1:35), at Jesus’ baptism (Lk 3:22) and in His messianic work (Lk 4:11, 14, 18). Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will” (Lk 10:21).
Fr Dr Fuellenbach, writes amazingly about the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit:
“In the triune God there reigns a perfect exchange: The Father gives himself totally to the Son, and the Son on his part gives himself totally back to the Father. This personal reciprocal self-giving is the ‘Person’ of the
The fire that descended upon the apostles of Jesus Christ, his mother Mary and various other women disciples and his brothers in the Upper Room or Cenacleon, that first Pentecost fills all those who believe in the Trinity of God.
We recall and honour the Holy Spirit each time we sign ourselves. But is the Holy Spirit given the same importance as God and Jesus Christ in our prayer and appeal to the Trinity?
The Holy Spirit is omniscient like God is. St Paul says “no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God”. St Augustine says: “In no other subject is the danger of erring so great, or the progress so difficult, or the fruit of a careful study so appreciable”.
Who is the Holy Spirit?
John 14:16-17: “And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you forever. The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive”; and in John 15:26: “But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, he shall give testimony of me." The Spirit of consolation and of truth is also clearly distinguished in John 16:7, 13-15, from the Son, from Whom He receives all He is to teach the Apostles, and from the Father, who has nothing that the Son also does not possess. Both send Him, but He is not separated from Them, for the Father and the Son come with Him when He descends into our souls (John 14:23).
What role does the Holy Spirit play in our lives?
As the Feast of Pentecost approaches, here are seven saints to help you deepen your devotion to the Holy Spirit.
1. The Virgin Mary. In Catholic devotion we tend to focus—as we should—on the relationship between Mary and her divine Son. But Mary also has a special and unique relationship with the third person of the Trinity. As Luke 1:35 informs us, Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, which came to "overshadow" Mary. This relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit continues long after the Incarnation, which is why—to take just one example—it's no coincidence that Mary was present, along with the apostles, at the first Pentecost. In true devotion to the Holy Spirit, Archbishop Luis Martinez writes that both are involved in our sanctification. The Spirit is the Sanctifier by essence while Mary "is the cooperator, the indispensable instrument." What better way to learn how to be devoted to the Holy Spirit than from the immaculate virgin whose devotion was so great she conceived a divine Child through Him? Put another way, true devotion to Mary is true devotion to the Holy Spirit.
Ah, Pentecost. People ask me about it every once in a while. I remember it as though it were yesterday -- though it's been twenty years or more since then. History was being made, the end of an old era, the beginning of the new -- and I was there.
I was 19 or so, up to Jerusalem from Galilee for Passover. Just a kid. It was the year they crucified Jesus, a fellow Galilean. I was stunned, heartbroken. After his death I didn't go home. I hung around with some of his followers, in hiding actually. And then on Sunday, word came that he had risen from the dead. And so I stayed in the city.
Those were heady days, with Jesus appearing to the apostles and others for weeks on end. Then he ascended, went up into heaven. We were to wait in the city, the apostles told us. Something about power and witnessing and the Holy Spirit. So we waited -- about 120 of us -- meeting morning and evening, talking, reading scripture, praying. Nearly ten days we waited like that.
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