May 27, 2012 – Pentecost Sunday
Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church as it is commonly called. We commemorate how Jesus sent the Spirit to be with us after He ascended into heaven, to strengthen us, assist us, and comfort us as we carry out our mission as the Church – both as individuals and as the One Body of Christ. We recognize and rejoice in the fact that the Spirit is with us today. He is at work in the Church and in each of our individual lives. It is our responsibility to open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit, to allow His grace to penetrate our hearts and to yield ourselves to the strength he offers us.
Today’s readings focus on the gift of the Holy Spirit and the many ways he is active in the Church today.
In the first reading, we hear Luke’s version of the Pentecost story. Full of symbolic meaning, Luke’s story tells us that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles with power, “like a strong driving wind.” Then He tells us that tongues of fire came to rest on each one of the apostles. Each one of them was filled with the Spirit. Each one of them was blessed with the gifts He needed for His particular ministry, and then, armed with the Spirit, all twelve of them left the room and began proclaiming the mighty works of God, in such a way, that everyone there (people from many different places who spoke many different languages) could understand. And the Faith spread.
But it wasn’t just that one particular day that the Spirit filled the Church with the grace to spread Christ’s message. In fact, we know that He continues to work in our lives and in the life of the Church at large, blessing us with the gifts we need to proclaim the Good News.
As individuals, we each receive gifts particular to who we are and our state in life. For example, one might be given the gift of prophecy while another might have the gift of deep spiritual contemplation. Still another may have the gift to beautifully sing the Lord’s praises. All such gifts and so many others like them are given to us in order that we might better glorify the Lord and build His Church.
Paul tells us, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service, but the same Lord; there are different workings, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.”
Every one of us has been given different gifts. It is our responsibility as Christ’s disciples to recognize those gifts, to thank the Lord, profusely, for them, and then, to use them to build the Church.
The Spirit is here. We don’t have to do it alone. He is our “advocate” as the Gospel reminds us. Jesus says “he will guide us to the truth. He will glorify me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
So, today, as we focus on the Spirit’s work in the Church, may we all make an extra effort to yield to the Spirit’s work in our own lives, to recognize the gifts we have been given – both spiritual and otherwise – and yield to the grace of the Holy Spirit, using all we have been given for the sole purpose of glorifying God in all we say and do.