Pentecost & the Holy Spirit

Pentecost, Year C
Acts 2:1-11
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
John 20:19-23
May 19, 2013

Today we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It is a gift because of what it means for us.

It’s a gift in part because of the gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit, gifts of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, courage, good judgment, piety, and fear of the Lord as found in Isaiah 11.  There are the fruits of the Holy Spirit that Paul speaks of in his Letter to the Galatians.  There is also unity that we receive with God and each other by our sharing in the Holy Spirit.

It is the unity that we speak of at the end of the Opening Prayer almost everyone time at Mass when I say, Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.  Or in the doxology at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, Through him, and in him, and with him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.

We can see the unity that the Holy Spirit creates coming in our first reading that tells of Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit arrives as a “strong driving wind” and appears as “tongues of fire.”

When the Holy Spirit comes down on the disciples, they begin to speak in tongues.  The people gathered there each hear them in their own tongue.

Remember the story of the Tower of Babel?

The people were trying to build a tower to heaven to raise their own status.  God destroys the tower and scatters them in different languages.

Now, the Holy Spirit restores that unity that was broken by the people’s sin of pride.  The Holy Spirit makes it possible for the disciples to reach across language barriers to speak to people of every tongue bringing unity.

Jesus’ first disciples received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  We receive it in Baptism and sealed with the Holy Spirit at Confirmation but the Holy Spirit is at work in all the sacraments.

The Mass we celebrate is no exception.  The Holy Spirit is what makes the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus possible.

Think of the words in the Third Eucharistic Prayer:

Therefore, O Lord, we humbly implore you: by the same Spirit graciously make holy these gifts we have brought to you for consecration, that they may become the Body and Blood of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ at whose command we celebrate these mysteries.

 But it is not just the bread and wine that are transformed by the Holy Spirit, further along in the Third Eucharistic Prayer we hear:

grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ.

We too are to be transformed into, as Paul writes, ‘one body in Christ’ united in ‘one spirit’ to follow Jesus.

What is the one thing that can keep us from becoming the Body of Christ?


We need to be open to the Holy Spirit.  We need to share the credit for the good that we do with God.  If we think we do it all ourselves we are mistaken and live with a hardened heart that keeps us from seeing the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit can be working in our lives in the ways we don’t even realize or appreciate.  Last Tuesday, when I was giving a presentation on the Holy Spirit, one man spoke of how the ‘Spirit gave him his wife.’

Would you see the spirit as active in drawing you to your spouse or did you find them on your own?  (Of course, this doesn’t mean if you don’t like your spouse that God gave you a bad one.  A bad spouse might mean someone wasn’t listening to the Holy Spirit.)

Where do you see the Spirit at work in your life?

If you can’t, here is what I suggest for you to begin with.  At the end of each day, take a few minutes, either simply in your thoughts or in a journal, think about how the day went.  What went bad, what went well, what went better than expected?  Where was God in the good?  How was God present in the bad?  That’s the Holy Spirit.


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