Pentecost: Receiving the Holy Spirit

Posted:

Acts 2:1-11

Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13

Gospel: John 20:19-23

Tornado season is part of the landscape of spring. It brings with it images of the wind’s awesome power and autonomy. Alongside tragic stories of devastation there are incredible tales of straw driven through telephone poles and of beds, complete with sleepers, lifted out of houses and deposited unharmed, hundreds of feet away.

The power of the wind is undeniable. The mystery of it, however, is that the wind itself cannot be seen. We can recognize its presence only by its effect on other things -- roofless houses, snapping flags, mountainous snow drifts, sculpted dunes on an ocean beach.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “the term ‘Spirit’ translates the Hebrew word ‘ruah,’ which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind” (No. 691). As with the wind we recognize the power and presence of the Holy Spirit only by the shape it gives our lives.

In the Pentecost liturgy, Paul identifies one of the principal examples of how the Spirit invisibly moves us: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

It’s not that mere utterance of the words requires divine inspiration; rather, to say “Jesus is Lord” and mean it both requires and proves that the Holy Spirit is moving within us.

Whenever we see the Lordship of Jesus given shape in human community, we are seeing the effects of the Spirit. The loving attention of friends for a dying person; the courage of an employee refusing to cheat customers; the self-sacrifice of sleepless parents with a sick child; the inspiration of a heartfelt homily -- all signal the Spirit’s moving our hearts and hands and minds.

May Pentecost open us more fully to the movement of God’s Spirit. May our lives give evidence of Christ’s love in a hurting world.