A Birthday Celebration
Birthdays are occasions of joy and hope! Pentecost Sunday, which we celebrate today, is the birthday of the Church. It is the celebration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit infused in us in Baptism, strengthened in Confirmation, and renewed within us today. Pentecost marks the beginning of the new covenant and the birth of the public life of the Church.
Our First Reading relates the events of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the great manifestation of God’s power. The speaking in different tongues that were understood by all the Jews that came to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, was a miracle. It was a clear manifestation of the mission of the universal Church; a call for the Church to be a sign of unity, irrespective of race, color, or language.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that by virtue of our “Pentecostal experience,” which was renewed in us today, we have been specially configured for God’s mission. It is the Holy Spirit that gives life and directs our mission, and through today’s outpouring, we are fully marked as God’s adopted children and fully heirs to God’s throne and heritage.
The principal roles of the Holy Spirit are highlighted in today’s Gospel. These include: advocating, teaching, and reminding us of the things we ought to know. However, for this to be possible, we must be ready to cooperate with Him. He can only advocate for us if we trust Him and allow Him to be in charge. He can only teach us if we pay attention to His counsels. He can only remind us of the things we ought to know if we pray constantly: “Help me because I am ignorant. Enlighten the eyes of my mind. O Holy Spirit.”
What will the Holy Spirit who has been renewed in us today help us to accomplish? First, the Holy Spirit is not a spirit of fear and timidity but rather a spirit of courage and hope. The Spirit empowers us to go forth with confidence and strength to proclaim God’s love in word and deed. The Holy Spirit has been given to us that we might bear good fruit that will last (Gal. 5:22). The Spirit was also bestowed on us that we may empower others to spread the Kingdom of God here on earth.
As we celebrate the birthday of the Church today, let us implore the Holy Spirit to instill His joy and hope in all our hearts, especially those of our suffering brothers and sisters here at home and throughout the world. Let us reflect on the words of God captured in this magnificent poem entitled “HOPE” by Charles Péguy.
The dream you dream is my dream,
The house you are building is my house,
And the love with which you love each other is my love,
And that is the heart of the matter.
May the Holy Spirit fill us with joy and hope!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM