For the next three weekends, we will be celebrating a few important feasts in our Church liturgy, namely the Feasts of Pentecost, the Holy Trinity and the Body and Blood of Jesus (Corpus Christi). This weekend we reflect on the Feast of Pentecost.
Pentecost came from the Greek word ‘pentecoste’ meaning fiftieth day after Easter. We, Christian Catholics know the meaning of Pentecost – the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the birth of the Church. For many of us, when we speak of Pentecost, we quickly connect three unusual events that happened at Pentecost – the rushing wind, the tongues of fire and the speaking of tongues. However, if the emphasis is only on these exterior signs, then we will be missing the true meaning of Pentecost – the descent of the Holy Spirit, which is the most important event.
When we read the Acts of the Apostles, written by the Evangelist, Saint Luke, it shows the powerful workings of the Holy Spirit in the Apostles, especially Saints Peter, Paul and Barnabas. The Apostles were living in expectation. Jesus had told them “to wait for the promise of the Father… and you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit… and you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,” (Acts 1:4-8).
Every baptised Catholic has received the Holy Spirit during our Baptism. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come and go in our lives but remains permanently in us. There are different titles given to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity such as the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Helper, Counsellor, the Consoler, Friend and Sanctifier.
This Pentecost weekend, we should get to know the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. We received these Gifts of the Holy Spirit on the day we were baptised: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and the Fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:1-2). How many of us actually remember them by heart? We should memorise and utilise these gifts and live our lives according to these. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are sealed in us, to become witnesses of Christ and to evangelise Christ.
The Bishop says that he “seals” us with the Chrism Oil during Confirmation. The anointing of the Chrism Oil imprints a spiritual seal – the seal of the Holy Spirit in us “… you have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise,” (Eph1:13) and “… do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal…” (Eph 4:30). The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the significance of seal: “A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority or ownership of an object. Hence soldiers were marked with their leader’s seal and slaves with their master’s. A seal authenticates a juridical act or document and occasionally makes it secret,” (CCC, nos. 1295-1296).
May we allow the Holy Spirit to do the work of transforming us to grow in holiness. Let’s become docile instruments in the hands of God, who is the Holy Spirit! May this Pentecost bring us to an even deeper assurance of God’s abundant love for each one of us. May the Holy Spirit fill us with a fresh understanding and renewed courage to share His love with those around us. This is our spirit of evangelisation and mission. We pray the traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle within us the fire of your divine love.”
Come, Holy Spirit, I need you
Come, sweet Spirit, I pray
Come in your strength and your power
Come in your own gentle way.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy