Pentecost Sunday

The Easter season concludes with Pentecost Sunday, commemorating that day in the budding Church when the Father and the Son poured out the Holy Spirit in a special way on the Apostles and they took up the mission of proclaiming the Gospel throughout the whole world. The Holy Spirit throughout the Church’s history has showered down gifts upon her to keep her faithful to the teaching she’s received from Our Lord, and to keep the fires burning to inspire hearts to turn to Our Lord and be reconciled with God and with man.

With wind and fire, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Twelve in a way that cannot be contained. It’s a sign no one can ignore. A rushing wind and tongues of fire. It draws a crowd. It’s a sign everyone can understand. It goes beyond the barriers of language to help humanity reunite once again in the Spirit.

The Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and gave him new life so that reconciliation would be possible. The separation between God and man, recalled by the story of the Tower of Babel, is reversed by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost: in pride, man distanced himself from God and his fellow man, and communication broke down. Through the gift of tongues, the Holy Spirit reestablishes the lines of communication. In the Spirit, man reconciles not only with God but with his fellow man.

To experience God’s transforming presence in our lives, we have to obey his will out of love: “Whoever loves me will keep my word,” as Jesus says in the Gospel.

Most of us want to obey God’s will in our lives. But how do we know what God’s will is? The Holy Spirit quietly reveals God’s will to us in two ways.

First, he inspires and guides the teaching of the Church. We have: the commandments of the Bible, the instructions in the Catechism, the examples of the saints, the regular updates from the pope’s encyclicals – the Holy Spirit wants us to know how a Christian should live, and he gives us the Church to keep us posted.

In this way, the Church, under the pope’s leadership, is like the conductor of a symphony: we have to keep our eyes on him if we want to play our part well. But the Church can only give commandments and guidelines that apply to everyone.

That tells God’s will 85% of the time. But 15% of the time we are faced with opportunities and challenges unique to our own life-circumstances. That’s when the Holy Spirit guides us more personally, through inspirations, through his seven Gifts, through wise advice.

In both ways, he is hard at work, quietly but surely, building up our happiness and that of those around us.

Renew our commitment to follow and obey – not in order to experience spiritual fireworks, but in order to feed the fire of God’s love in our hearts, whose light and heat we all need so much.