This weekend we celebrate the feast of Pentecost and the first Christians’ reception of the Holy Spirit that empowered them to be Jesus’ “witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). We remember how the Holy Spirit came upon them as “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3), enabling them to speak other languages and preach the Gospel in astounding ways (Acts 2:4-12). That very day three thousand in all “came to be baptized and added to the church.” (Acts 2:41).
The early followers of Jesus were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, are you filled with the power of the Holy Spirit? Are the gifts of the Holy Spirit evident in your life right now? Have you had your own personal Pentecost?
The power of the Holy Spirit convicts, teaches, equips, and empowers Christians to grow in grace and spread the gospel to the nations to the glory of God. We feel this power through the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Are these gifts present and active in your life? Should they be? Yes!
Every year we try to schedule the children’s celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation around the time of Pentecost, and for good reason. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “The effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost” (CCC 1302). More specifically, just as the gift of the Spirit on Pentecost allowed the Apostles to preach the Gospel to the entire world, so too does the sacrament of Confirmation empower us today “to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross” (CCC 1303). In other words, the sacrament of Confirmation is like our own personal Pentecost. It’s that time when we received the Holy Spirit just like the Apostles did 2,000 years ago, and we take upon ourselves the same mandate to spread the Gospel that they received.
How can we continue to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit? Spirit-filled people acknowledge their weaknesses and ask for the strengthening, anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit every morning. In the evening they ask for His forgiveness and pass on that forgiveness to others. Spirit-filled people are praying people. They try to grow continually in their faith, and they seek out every opportunity to discover Christ and what it means to be children of God. Spirit-filled people are people who allow the Spirit to change their lives through their daily reading of the Bible and their frequenting of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. Spirit-filled people speak words that heal, restore, make people happy and build people up instead of tearing them down. Spirit-filled people pass on the love of God to the people living around them by their acts of kindness, mercy, and charity.
We can see the Holy Spirit quietly at work in our lives during this time of global pandemic. We see the Holy Spirit in the sincere concern we show for the health of friends; in our generosity to those who are in need of support and comfort; in the inner strength we discover in times of crisis; in those moments when we admit that we have been wrong; in the making of a tough choice; in our resilience to face one tough situation after another; in times when we have dared to love even though it was hard to do so.
This weekend let us remember to make Pentecost personal. Let us call on the power of the Holy Spirit to follow Christ and live out his mission of evangelization.
God bless you folks. Father Gerard