Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Little Something Extra... Pentecost

The Holy Spirit

Take a moment and ask yourself how much you know about the Holy Spirit. He tends to be the most mysterious of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. We can picture the Son, for He is God Incarnate and has a human body, now glorified in Heaven and present in the Eucharist. We can even imagine the Father. Although He remains unseen, we can identify with the concept of “Father” and form something of a mental picture of Him, as inadequate as it is. But we have trouble describing the Holy Spirit. We might imagine Him as a dove or as fire, but those images don't really capture the intimate, personal way He is present in our lives and interacts with us. 

Today's readings offer us some important insights into Who the Holy Spirit is and what He does for us. Although we still may not be able to picture Him, after a close reading of these six passages, we will certainly be better acquainted with the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. [Notice that I say six passages here. Both today's Second Reading and Gospel have two options. I will be examining both.] 

1. The Holy Spirit is powerful. We can see that in the First Reading. He comes with the noise of a strong, driving wind. He appears like tongues of fire. Both of these elements can be destructive, but they can also be purifying. Wind helps separate grain from chaff. Fire burns off impurities in metal. The Holy Spirit does that for us by His great power. He cleanses us and purifies us from the inside out. He also sets us on fire and provides the energy we need to proclaim the Gospel through our words and actions. 

2. The Holy Spirit draws people together. Notice how each member of the crowd in the First Reading can hear the apostles speaking in his own language. Scholars often point out that this phenomenon symbolizes the reversal of the Tower of Babel incident in Genesis 11, in which God confuses the people's language after they attempt to climb up the Heaven without Him. The Holy Spirit is the force that reunites God's people. He is the very soul of the Church. 

3. The Holy Spirit is the Creator along with the Father and the Son. The Psalm, addressing the Father, proclaims, “When You send forth Your spirit, they are created...” The Spirit is the breath of God that hovered over the waters at the time of creation. Through Him the Father breathes out life into the whole world. 

4. The Holy Spirit is the One Who sustains. The Psalm explains, “If You take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust.” That breath is certainly physical breath, but it is also the divine breath, the Spirit of God, Who sustains all things by His presence in the world. 

5. The Holy Spirit is the One Who renews. We pray in the Psalm's refrain, “Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” The Spirit makes us new in Christ Jesus. The Spirit Who creates also recreates. 

6. The Holy Spirit allows us to say, “Jesus is Lord.” In fact, as the Second Reading from 1 Corinthians 12 tells us, we can only testify that “Jesus is Lord” if the Holy Spirit is active in us. 

7. The Holy Spirit gives many spiritual gifts. Each individual receives his or her own set of gifts from the Spirit, and these gifts are used both to grow in personal holiness and to build up the Church. The Spirit gives as He wills according to God's plan. 

8. The Holy Spirit makes God's people one body. He comes into each of us at baptism, uniting us as one in Christ. 

9. The Holy Spirit is the Living Water. Jesus promises to give Him to us for our refreshment, and He always keeps His promises. 

10. The Holy Spirit dwells within us. He makes us alive in our spirits. Through Him we belong to Christ. 

11. The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. So says the Second Reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans. 

12. The Holy Spirit leads us and makes us children of the Father. He is the Spirit of adoption, Who makes us cry out “Abba!” He even bears witness for us that we are God's children, heirs of the Father and joint heirs with Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we are God's family. 

13. The Holy Spirit was breathed on the disciples by Jesus. In the Gospel reading from John 20, Jesus gave the disciples His peace. Then He “breathed on them and said to them,'Receive the Holy Spirit...'” The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. In fact, scholars and saints have said that the Spirit is the very love exchanged by the Father and the Son, a love so powerful and so alive that it is truly another Person. 

14. The Holy Spirit is the Advocate. He is our helper, the One Who defends us and Who guides us. He is the One Who pleads our case and Who comforts us. He stands up for us always unless we turn our backs on Him, and even then He is constantly waiting for us to allow Him back into our lives and our souls. 

15. The Holy Spirit is our Teacher. Jesus promises in John 26, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” The Spirit gives us insights into God and His plan for us and for the whole world. He gives us words to say when we proclaim God to others and defend our faith. He reminds us of God's law, God's love, and our responsibilities. All we need to do to receive this teaching and reminding is open our hearts to Him. 

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit 

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. 

Let us pray. 

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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