Sunday, May 25, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter.
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
It is easy to think of the Holy Spirit only in a mystical, almost magical, way: tongues of fire at Pentecost, mighty wind or fluttering dove. Ultimately, says the Catechism (688), "the place where we know the Holy Spirit" is the Church:
1. We know the Holy Spirit "in the Scriptures he inspired" — which means we have to keep his word. Are we people who know his word and keep it?
2. We know the Holy Spirit "in the Tradition to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses." We meet Jesus in the living traditions of his Church.
3. We know the Holy Spirit "in the Church’s magisterium, which he assists." Jesus tells the apostles: "You will know him because he remains with you and will be in you." This also applies to the apostles’ successors. The Holy Spirit guides the Church, and we can trust in what the Church teaches.
4. We know the Holy Spirit "in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ." In the first reading, the apostles hear that the Samaritan Christians’ sacramental life is lacking, so "they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." We have access to the same sacraments.
5. We know the Holy Spirit "in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us." According to the Psalmist, "Blessed be God, who refused me not my prayer or his kindness!" He won’t refuse our prayers either.
6. We know the Holy Spirit "in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up." In the first reading, we hear of all that Philip did in Samaria: "Unclean spirits … came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured." These charisms exist in the Church today, evidence of the Holy Spirit among us.
7. We know the Holy Spirit "in the signs of apostolic and missionary life." St. Peter, in the second reading, says, "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope." We can always be ready, in the Spirit, too.
8. We know the Holy Spirit "in the witness of saints, through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation." We have our faith thanks to men and women who spread the word in holiness before us. Now, it’s our turn.
Tom and April Hoopes
write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence
at Benedictine College.