Sunday, May 24, is Pentecost Sunday (Year B).
This is a week of favorite saints.
May 25: The Venerable Bede (673-735) is the father of English history. May 26: St. Philip Neri, the jolly, joking saint who loved the catacombs. May 27: St. Augustine of Canterbury, the Benedictine monk who brought Christianity to England. May 28: Blessed Margaret Pole, a high-society British widow beheaded for opposing the remarriage of Henry VIII. May 30: St. Joan of Arc, the girl who rallied France.
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23
In the first reading today, the apostles receive the Holy Spirit in a dramatic fashion, and, immediately, they are able to speak to the crowds. They go from being Christians huddled in the Upper Room to being Christians ready to die in the public square.
What exactly happened to them?
On this Pentecost Sunday, it is a good time to review how the Holy Spirit changes us.
1. The Holy Spirit makes us God’s children. All people are God’s children, in the sense that we are made in the image and likeness of God. But the Holy Spirit makes us God’s children in a new sense: We are adopted into his divine family and given a new relationship with him. We are called to be partners in the “family business” of spreading the faith on earth.
2. The Holy Spirit makes us one with Christ. We can see how this works in the second reading. There are many tasks within the Church; the Holy Spirit organizes us such that, “though many,” we “are one body.”
With the Spirit, the Church is more than just an aristocracy. It is the bride of the royal bridegroom, such that, when the Church acts, it is as if the prince himself were acting.
3. The Holy Spirit gives us the grace to “speak in the name of God.” It was through the Holy Spirit that St. Peter was able to speak to the crowds — and it was through the Holy Spirit that the prophets were able to deliver God’s messages to earth.
It is through the same Holy Spirit that we are given the grace to speak. As one option for the Gospel today puts it, Christ tells the apostles that the Holy Spirit is “the spirit of truth; he will guide you to all truth.”
4. He gives our work good fruits. In the second reading, from Galatians, that many parishes will hear today, St. Paul names the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
We receive these through the Spirit, in much the way Mary received the fruit of her womb. The Holy Spirit “made her virginity fruitful,” says the Compendium of the Catechism. She did not bring Christ into being in her womb; she accepted the Holy Spirit, and he accomplished that in her. The Spirit brings the sacraments to us through the Church, and through participation in the sacraments, he brings the fruits of the Spirit into our lives.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.