Receive the Holy Spirit

05-23-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Many years ago when I was a young boy, I thought the time between Pentecost and Easter Sunday, all 50 days, was a very long time. It seemed that the passing of time took forever to creep along before we finally came to the great Feast of Pentecost. I remember we always sang "Come, Holy Ghost!" on that Sunday with great gusto and enthusiasm. My motivation for this desire to celebrate Pentecost was not really religious; it was because this Feast meant that going to school every day would be ending because the first weekend in June was coming soon. Religious feasts and holydays helped mark the passage of time for me. We studied about the meaning of the special Feast in school so I knew what it was about religiously, but also knew what it meant educationally!

The religious meaning of the great Feast is that there is no way we can capture, pin down, or tie up the Holy Spirit of our God. This third person of the Trinity sweeps us away, transcends us, and enlivens us in our lives. God is greater than our will or imagination. This week's scrip­ture passages help us to understand the meaning and role of the Holy Spirit in a better way.

Notice the contrast of how this very first occasion and Feast of Pentecost began with the dreaded emotion of fear and ended up with the wonderful emotion of joy. Although Pentecost occurred in the past, it is still alive and with us today in our lives because we have this same Spirit here now in our lives.

To use a popular phrase: in so many ways this day is the very first day of the rest of the Church's life. It began with the fearful and confused apostles all crowded in a room and it took the magnificent appearance of the power of our God to change their hearts and make them bold proclaimers of the message of Jesus. We learn in the Book of Acts that it took the power of a strong wind to blow through their hearts to fill them with the Holy Spirit. Additionally, the flames of fire that also appeared danced madly over their hearts to signal the great power of our God.

It is most striking that Peter, the leader, got up and walked out of that room never to return. Peter began to loudly proclaim the death and resurrection of the Lord and also call for repentance. All sorts of people from hither and thither came to understand the message which Peter preached. The author of Acts tells us how this preaching unified the many people into one as be­lievers. This is when it all began for the Church.

In our second reading, Paul tells us that the Spirit generates harmony and unity in the Church. Paul tells us that it takes the Holy Spirit for us to do good work or to act in service in the name of Jesus. He tells us to be part of the Church and to be one that we must have the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. All of us are one in the Spirit; no one is "extra special."

Our Gospel tells us we are not responsible for the coming of the Holy Spirit; we receive it. Bear in mind that Christ appeared before the fearful apostles and imparted the gift and Spirit of peace. We read how this gift of the Spirit actually begins. It starts with Jesus forgiving the apostles and then showering them with the Messianic peace that the Jews had sought for so many centuries. This all occurred on that first Easter evening on that glorious Pentecost day.

We are a church of the power of God simply because we have the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives. The Spirit allows us to be one and different at the same time. We are one because of our central belief in Jesus Christ and we are different because we live by the power of the Spirit this truth in our own personal life each day.