Pentecost Sunday

Today’s great feast of Pentecost is one in which we are invited to love and adore the Holy Spirit. In so doing, the Holy Spirit points us to Christ, allowing Christ to be formed in the church, in the world and in our hearts. It gives us the birthday of the church and indeed, the birthday of ourselves, for the most important life that we have is the life in Christ. It is through and in the church that we meet Christ. It gives us a freedom for it lifts us out of the world and points us to heaven. It also gives us the strength to live in the world but not of the world.

The first and second reading that we hear this Sunday give us ample evidence of what happens when we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to the Glorified Son. In the first reading, we are invited to go to the upper room where the disciples are anxious and fearful. They are locked in but also they are at prayer. The Holy Spirit comes as tongues of fire. Through this miraculous intervention, they come to find a freedom and a joy which spurs them to go and speak to all of Christ, the one who was crucified, rose and is now glorified. The listeners are liberated and freed for now they have truly come to know God and they understand what it means to be loved and saved. The Holy Spirit has brought them to meet and encounter Christ - what joy they now have!

In the second reading, Saint Paul simply spells out in words of one syllable what life in the spirit means in practice. He tells us of the fruits of the Holy Spirit namely joy, peace, gentleness, self-control, love and patience which is, of course, Christ himself. It is as though Christ is fully enfleshed in that community. Because of the enfleshing of Christ, there is no deadly or destructive sin that can prevail, such as gross indecency, sorcery, factions, envy or sexual irresponsibility. When Christ is ever-present in a community, family, parish or diocese, it is clear how ambition, parties of interest and jealousy are cast aside. 

How important it is in the Christian life that Christ can be allowed to rule through the action of the Holy Spirit. Then, people no longer see us and our spots and wrinkles but Christ himself. This must be the determined intention of any community of Christ’s faithful and that is why we pray to the Holy Spirit. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to cast all those destructive inclinations into the outer darkness. Saint Paul is asking us to let the Holy Spirit glorify Christ. It is in this that our lives and communities are changed because Christ comes to live within us.

So how do we meet Christ? Where are we to witness the action of the Holy Spirit? Every moment of the church, all sacraments, the preaching of the word, catechising of children, a work of charity or the celebration of Holy Mass is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is the sculpting, shaping and forming of the person of Christ in our world. The Church is here for us to meet Christ, no more and no less. It is how Christ asks for himself to become real and actual and that is why he sent us the Holy Spirit. It is because of this that we need to ask, beg and plead to the Holy Spirit that Christ should become truly present in our lives.

We can do no better than to ask Mary, who is the spouse of the Holy Spirit, to show us how. At the Annunciation, she said yes and because of that, she is known as the handmaid of the Lord. She was told that this would happen within her through the Holy Spirit; That perfect co-operation with the Holy Spirit allows God to become man. Then, in today’s feast, she is to be found in the upper room, leading the disciples and us, to be open to the Holy Spirit so that we may know Christ. Let us ask with Christ's words from today's gospel, that the Holy Spirit “will glorify me and lead you to the complete truth“.