Reflections on the Readings
Pentecost Sunday - May 31, 2009, Year B
By Dennis Hankins
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
Theme: Be Filled with the Spirit
``O Holy Spirit, sent by the Father in the Name of Jesus...Renew Thy Wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost!'' Pope John XXIII
Is there anything you are attempting to be or to do that can only succeed if God is with you? Are you attempting anything that depends upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit?
On this Day of Pentecost we enter into the Liturgical Season of Pentecost. It is a time we embrace again the extraordinary birth of the Church. It is through the Holy Spirit the Church says, "Jesus is Lord." This confession brings the Church into the unlimited realm of divine love, a love that cannot fail. On the Day of Pentecost the Church was confirmed in its calling to bring Jesus to the world with power, signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirt. (see Hebrews 2:4)
Just a cursory reading of the Acts of the Apostles reveals the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church. Grace, signs and wonders, and Christian witness declaring with power Jesus to be the Son of God brought the Church into the world of its day. The spirituality of the Church was and is a personal communion with the Father and the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is this witness, this power of grace and holiness Blessed Pope John XXIII prayed for. The meaning and motivation of Vatican II came from his heart as a prayer for the Church to live out the fulness of faith in the wonders and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
As many of you know, I was raised Pentecostal. I remember the ridicule of name calling. It was the standard fare of 'holy roller' and 'snake handler.' Of course neither was true of my local Pentecostal church. And if any Pentecostals did that, I would have thought they were weird too! There are many good things I remember about my Pentecostal church. For example, there was good, powerful, biblical preaching, intense prayer for the sick and the sinner, and a joy about Jesus who was the same Jesus of the Acts of the Apostles.
Growth in grace would intensify if on this Day of Pentecost and every day we prayed, "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of us your faithful and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."
Every one of us is invited to drink of the one Spirit. This is an invitation to live deeply in that Spirit which is from above. We can only resist the 'spirit of the age' by the Holy Spirit. Life in the Spirit is in contrast to the obvious works of the flesh such as sorcery, idolatry, drunkenness, orgies and the like. It is the holiness of the Spirit's presence which brings us to love the truth, and empowers us to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit such as joy, peace, patience and generosity. Such is the kingdom of God and so much more.
Astonishment and amazement gripped Jerusalem on that first Day of the Church. They were captured by hearing in their own tongues the mighty acts of God. The Spirit brought the gift of tongues on that Day of Pentecost so that the Church could speak to every one gathered in their own language. Often a similar gift of tongues comes with the release of the Spirit in us. Does everyone speak in tongues? Not necessarily, but sometimes in prayer in can occur along with sighs too deep for words. (see Romans 8:26)
You see, it is not for show that we are to be filled with the Spirit. Rather, it's so we may put on Christ worthily, without reproach. My brothers and sisters, we are new creations in Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit. If the same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead, dwell in us, how might we be more prepared to turn the world upside down again? (see Acts 17:6)
Come Holy Spirit, and fill us. Fill every fiber of our being, renewing us in the spirit of our mind. Fill our hearts, our words, our thoughts, so that in every way we can be the face of Jesus to everyone we meet. Amen.