“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit.” The gift of the Spirit on the evening of the Resurrection took place once again on the day of Pentecost, this time with extraordinary outward signs. On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit; on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they could proclaim Christ’s Resurrection to all peoples.
From Resurrection day to the day of Pentecost, Jesus had suddenly appeared and then abruptly ascended from the Apostles sight. Then, suddenly, he reappears in their hearts through the outpouring of the Spirit! Through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus’ presence is now interior, and experienced through faith. This experience grows as our faith deepens—through listening to the Gospels, through sharing God’s love with one another, through forgiveness, through sharing in Jesus’ meal of love, and ultimately by surrendering our lives to Love. At the beginning of our conversion God’s Spirit manifests through signs and wonders. But, as we journey that conversion deepens and becomes more interior, and the exterior signs lessen.
When we are confirmed and receive the Holy Spirit, God’s love is poured into our hearts making Christ interiorly present, and empowering us to give witness to God’s Love. The gift of the Holy Spirit can renew the face of the earth, if we first open our own hearts to inner renewal.
How does this happen? The Holy Spirit comes to do more than to teach us truth, rather, to live the Truth the Spirit reveals. The Spirit comes so that we may be one in love, set on fire for each other and God. Love isn’t merely a mushy feeling.
One of the greatest acts is to forgive those we don’t want to forgive. Through this act of love for another, we ourselves receive peace. The combination of Jesus’ showing his wounds and the sharing the gift of peace shows us how the forgiveness of hurts, is what leads to peace in our hearts.
That is the main teaching I want to reflect on this week. That is the most important – Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins. This is love. He died so we may be forgiven, and flowing from this, that we may forgive one another as a sign of our love.
A second reflection is that the Spirit unites us. Overcoming the misunderstandings of language barriers is a manifestation of the Spirit first breaking down the barriers in hearts. The Spirit opens us up so that we can be open to others. This attitude of heart which is a willingness to accept, to love, and to understand our neighbour, is what brings that understanding. Each one of us is unique – different. The Spirit allows us to accept and embrace that.
The effect of Pentecost is then: Forgiveness, and openness. That’s what builds community and breaks down barriers. Please God let it be in our community, our country, our world. Amen.