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Pentecost, Year C
Homily. Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; Romans 8:8-17; John 14:15-16, 23-26.

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Red Stole and Gospel
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; Romans 8:8-17; John 14:15-16, 23-26


THEME OF THE READINGS
The Holy Spirit empowers us to go beyond our natural abilities (Second Reading) in order to witness to Christ and to live as children of God (Second Reading), and to remind us of all that Christ taught (Gospel).

DOCTRINAL MESSAGE
With the mission of Christ completed, there was one more definitive step to establish his Church. That was the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is the transcendent software, as it were, that drives the Church. From the first moments of the Spirit´s gusty arrival in the upper room, the apostles were empowered to go beyond their natural abilities, speaking in foreign tongues, for the sake of the Gospel.

Pentecost recalls, albeit in reverse, the story of the tower of Babel (cf. Genesis 11). The ancients tried "to make a name" for themselves with a tower that would set them apart from divine plans. Mindful of their presumption, the Lord confused their speech, leaving them speaking different languages and foiling their scheme to build the tower. On Pentecost, by contrast, the Spirit brings unity from diversity by enabling all to hear the Gospel message in his own language. This time, too, they are confused, but for a different reason. Indeed, the work of the Holy Spirit is often baffling. The Spirit sees hearts and history at a glance, and can act accordingly. To try to fully and completely understand the Spirit is to reach beyond our grasp.

The Holy Spirit moves us toward unity in Christ and toward truth. When led by the Spirit, we are "sons of God" (Second Reading). Sons of the same father recognize one another as brothers. So it is: The Spirit that drives the Church, intends that all people live as brothers and sisters. The Church intends to exclude no one. Souls might choose, however, to reject the Church and its teaching and hence separate themselves from communion with the mystical body. "Those who do not love me do not keep my words" (Gospel). We can be sure that what the Church teaches is authentic, guided as it is by the Spirit who reminds it of all that Christ told his apostles (Gospel).

Cooperating with the Spirit enables us to share in Christ´s victory over sin and death -- "if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live" (Second Reading). But it does take cooperation, because God doesn´t force us to be saved against our will.

The Spirit also surprises. Whether raising up new souls, or new movements within the Church, the Spirit is at work to renew the face of the earth (Psalm).

Catechesis: "Spirit" translates the Hebrew ruah -- breath, air, wind (CCC 691). "Blasphemy against the Spirit,” which is the deliberate rejection of God´s mercy and the forgiveness of sins and the salvation offered by the Third Person of the Trinity, can lead to eternal loss (CCC 1864). The human person, by participating in the light and power of the divine Spirit, can understand the order of things established by the Creator (CCC 1704).

PASTORAL APPLICATIONS
Above and beyond. The Spirit enables us to do things that go beyond what we rationally think we are capable of. He empowers us to live our vocations, if we have faith and generosity. This applies to all of us. If we are married, are we open to new human life? If we feel called to the priesthood or religious life, are we confident that God will give us the strength to live celibacy?

Doing better. The Spirit constantly nudges us to do good, and to do better. Attentiveness to the Spirit requires a rich prayer life and a matrix of silence. How much time do we allocate to prayer each day? How much of our day is spent in quiet? A life buffeted by media from morning to night can stifle the voice of God in our hearts.

Unity. True exercise of religion should propel us to build up the Church. The Spirit moves us toward unity in Christ. Beware the spirituality that would allow us to sit comfortably in our room and ignore the plight of those around us.

 

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