I ask that you pray with me as we call upon the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle 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. O God who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit grant that by the same Spirit we have a right judgment in all things and ever rejoice in his consolation through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the church and the time of new beginnings. Today we recall the Holy Spirit descending upon Mary and the Apostles who had been praying in the upper room who after receiving the Holy Spirit, went into the streets fearlessly preaching the Gospel to everyone they encountered. After Jesus had been taken up into heaven the Apostles prayed for guidance. They wanted to be free of all that hinders them. Most often it was their own fears that hindered them until they received the grace to change who they are - so they could change the world
Father Jean Nicholas Grou, a Jesuit who lived in the 19th century speaks about the Holy Spirit in his book ‘The Spiritual Life’ and its role in forming us to be the persons we’re called to be. He tells us that the Holy Spirit is that which guides us into the fullness of the truth and that we need the Holy Spirit in order to live our lives as Christians in the world. He also tells us that the Holy Spirit comes to us not just as individuals but as members of a community as this is what binds us in God’s love. If we hope to do well evangelizing, we need to establish a good rapport with people. He goes on to say the principal cause for not being able to develop close relationships is self - pride. Many of us can see the faults of others but we can’t see our own faults and we can’t minister to others until we look at our - own shortcomings
The holy spirit gives us direction by first helping us examine ourselves. People have the tendency to do all they can - to hide who they are - from themselves. The knowledge of what’s in our own hearts is the most necessary of all knowledge for a person to have - and it’s given the least attention. In other words no one wants to know about their inadequacies, just everyone else’s. The average person lives and dies without really knowing themselves or the willingness to find out. They rather disguise themselves. A big mistake is having to appear before the God of truth as we really are and not knowing who that is. We need to be aware - when we are in error - and acknowledge that before God.
Having this awareness brings about in us a good disposition of uprightness and sincerity When we acknowledge before God our failures. He will enlighten us. Only then will he commission us to minister to others. The Holy Spirit’s guidance will keep us from falling. If we walk under his divine light, rather than trusting our own judgement - a whole new world will become open to us. Like the Apostles in the upper room we too need to wait for the Holy Spirit. Think of the progress you will make in your own faith journey if you wait for the holy Spirit to guide you. Remember the holy spirit brings us to a place of recollection and prayer and having an awareness of God’s presence.
As Christ sends his Apostles into the world, he uses a kind of formula that establishes a parallel between the Father and the Son and the disciples as we read from several different verses. In John 6:57: Just as the Father has sent me and I have life because of the father, so also will the one who feeds on me - have life because of me. In John 10;15 Just as the father knows me and I know the father - I know mine and mine know me and I will - lay down my life for my sheep. In John 15: 9 Just as the father loves me - so I also love you. Remain in my love - and In John 17:18 Just as you - Father - sent me into the world - I sent them - into the world and I consecrated them in the truth
These passages give us a formula that conveys to us more than just Jesus being divine as his father is Divine, but they also show us - he acts as his heaven Father acts - as he too knows and loves as his father loves. The formula ends - when the holy spirit enters
In our first reading from the acts of the Apostles, we find a different description of the Holy Spirit's arrival. In John’s Gospel Jesus says to his apostles peace be with you and then breaths on them as they receive the Holy Spirit while instituting the sacrament of reconciliation saying to them: whose sins you shall forgive be forgiven them. He then tells them that when the holy Spirit comes he will testify on his behalf and that they too - will testify on his behalf - because he was with him from the beginning.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Instead of a gentle breeze, the Holy Spirit comes to the disciples with a strong driving wind and tongues of fire. While breath is necessary for life, it is the wind and fire that lend themselves to movement and change. We are given a fuller understanding of the Holy Spirit through the diverse ways it's portrayed just as the father and the son cannot be fully understood by his followers. The same is true of the Holy Spirit. St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians tries to help them recognize the unity that exists through the gifts and workings of the holy spirit being manifested in their community
The greatest and most difficult commission of all is the one that calls his apostles to follow him down the road of suffering - he had to endure. This is the same suffering the Apostles feared would come upon them when they locked themselves in the upper room but upon the arrival of the Holy Spirit they now have the courage and fortitude to go out into the world and proclaim the gospel, Jesus also gives you and I the commission to be vulnerable and to make sacrifices
Throughout the season of leant and Easter you and I have been strengthen and fortified by an ongoing conversion to the lord through penance and prayer and when celebrating Jesus triumph over sin and death. Now we are sent forth to live in the world in a different way than before. The coming of the holy spirit is a wake up call for each of us to realize the great obligation we have as Christians to live our lives for Christ and to follow him more closely/ With the breath of the holy spirit now within us we are called to use the different gifts and talents we have to bring - forgiveness and peace to the world
To be sent as Jesus was sent -is not an easy task -it means to strip away all of the human armor we often use to protect ourselves and become vulnerable. As I mentioned earlier it is when we acknowledge before God our failures that he will enlighten us and send us out to minister to others. If we walk under his divine light - rather than just - trusting our own judgement, he will lead us to the truth.
On this feast of Pentecost let us invite the holy spirit to help us renew ourselves to follow in Jesus footsteps the same footsteps - that led us - to his vulnerability on the cross but - also - to the glory of the empty tomb.