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
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
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?
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.