Pentecost Sunday – Cycle B (Jn 20:19-23)

Do you feel the presence of God in your life? Are you open to accepting the presence of God—the Holy Spirit—to becoming a child of God? We are, as followers of Jesus Christ, commanded—commanded to not only live our lives as he demonstrated but commanded to go forth and spread the Good News through our actions as well as our words. We are expected to live our lives as Jesus lived his because we are the body of Christ.

Receive the Holy Spirit

Receive the Holy Spirit

Today is Pentecost, the Greek name for “fifty days” or seven weeks. Seven weeks ago we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any reflection on Scripture reveals that virtually all of the Old Testament concerns God the Father and that most of the New Testament speaks only of the Son. The Holy Spirit is only mentioned briefly throughout Scripture. I often wonder why because I am firmly convinced that, as we live out our daily lives, it is the Holy Spirit that is always watching over us and guiding us.

Some years ago I discovered that, while I was interested in a great many things, and could do well in some things, it was only those things in which I did the worst; that presented me with the greatest challenges that kept my interest beyond the moment. Those things that were easy to conquer or attain became boring and uninteresting very quickly. I tended to seek out new and more difficult challenges; the more challenging the task, the longer I remained involved; the greater the mystery, the greater the incentive to discover the hidden treasure just beyond my grasp. We all share this desire for knowledge, the desire to understand, to solve a mystery. And when we eventually figure it out, we tend to put it aside; because solving is the beginning of becoming bored.

So it is with God. Each of us would love to figure God out, to understand, really understand and know God. It is the ultimate challenge for us all. It is that mystery that holds our interest, keeps us hungry, coming back for more.

We know that God is always with us; that He loves us and that He will never leave us, and that He will carry us through the darkest times. But do we always believe that? Recently, I spent a weekend visiting with a cousin of mine whose husband has a terminal illness, a cancer that is quickly eating away at a once vibrant and vital human being; he now has but a few months to live. The sadness that I felt for the impending loss of such a brilliant and wonderful life was immediately removed by the complete and absolute joy that I experienced throughout my visit. The palpable presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, their complete acceptance of God’s will, their letting go of their fears, and their faith in God were awe inspiring. I never saw fear, or anger, or sorrow, or regret—I only felt joy and peace and love; I saw the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is the mystery of the Ascension and Pentecost, of letting go and imparting the spirit. Jesus lived his life through the power of the Holy Spirit. At his baptism the Holy Spirit came upon him. Through the power of the Holy Spirit he overcame evil and even death.  And when he ascended into heaven he told us that the Holy Spirit would come to help and guide us. It is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus is present to us in a way that is far deeper than he was ever present to his disciples when he was physically with them. St. Paul tells us (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13) today that:

No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.

Yesterday a large group of young adults received the blessing of the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Confirmation. As Bishop Calvo anointed each of them with the Sacred Chrism he said “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Fr. Ron Rolheiser says that this blessing is a way of remaining permanently present to each of us. Jesus left us with his blessing, and his spirit—the Holy Spirit—is received by all who receive that blessing.  Fr. John Foley says that whenever we find patches of charity or joy in ourselves, or patience and kindness, or the ability to endure hardship and injuries; when we are tempted toward mildness and modesty, then we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is at work within us.

The apostles, who were filled with the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room, came on fire for Jesus, lost their fear, and began to proclaim the Gospel to all who would listen. Jesus likewise calls us out of our Upper Rooms. But he doesn’t just call us to proclaim the Good News; he gives us the ability, the power, and the strength to do so. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to speak, through our lives, of the love of God and to see the presence of God in every one of us.

So, while the oil will wash away and the words will be forgotten over time, the blessing received by the confirmandi places a permanent mark on their souls and that will never wash away. On the bulletin board at the entrance of the church their photos and chosen saints’ name are posted. On each card is written the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, and wonder and awe. While these gifts are freely given, we must learn to use them, and we must use them, today, and every day of our lives.

Through the Holy Spirit our hearts are filled with the eternal love of God and the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the blessings of the Holy Spirit descend upon each of you today and every day, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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