Sunday, May 28, 2023 – Pentecost Sunday
It’s impossible to live the life of a Christian without the help of the Holy Spirit. But to appreciate the role of the Spirit in the life of a Christian we have to start with Jesus himself. Even Jesus needed the Spirit. The Spirit had a big role to play in his life. The Spirit descended on him at his baptism, revealing him as the Father’s beloved Son.
At his baptism he also received power from on high for the mission he was about to begin. The Spirit was not just given for a moment; the Spirit remained with him throughout his public ministry. Jesus was continually led, strengthened and guided by the Spirit.
He began his ministry by making his own the lovely words of Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.”
What a beautiful mission. And how faithful he was to it. Jesus was filled with the Spirit, and power went out from him through his gracious words and compassionate deeds.
It was the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. It was the Spirit who opened the minds of his disciples and helped them to understand the meaning of his death. When he was raised up to glory at the right hand of the Father, Jesus poured out the Spirit on those who were to carry on his mission. The Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, individually and collectively. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they began their mission. And we see the great courage and confidence with which they did so.
And the same Spirit descends on us at our Baptism and Confirmation. The Spirit is not given for a moment but accompanies us on our journey in the footsteps of Jesus. The Spirit gives us power to participate in the work of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is our strength in times of weakness, our guide in times of doubt, our consoler in times of sadness, our advocate who always pleads our cause. We can’t take even one step without the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Wisdom, understanding, and counsel (right judgment) guide our mind and assist our conscience in knowing right from wrong. Fortitude (courage) enables us to do the right thing even when it is difficult or unpopular. Fear of the Lord is really awe and reverence for God.
St. Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). The Spirit brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are beautiful things, and make life joyful.
Paul warns us against self-indulgence, which is the opposite of the Spirit. Self-indulgence produces bad temper, fighting, jealousy, cruelty, meanness, revenge, fornication, idolatry, and drunkenness. These are ugly things, and make life miserable. The more we renounce ourselves, and “walk in the Spirit”, the more fruitful our lives will become.
The Spirit that we have been given is not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power. Wind and fire (heat) are symbols of power. Wind has the power to move, to uproot. Fire has the power to refine and transform. The power they symbolize here is the power of God. The coming of the Spirit provided the apostles with the energy, the courage, and the love to get on with the task Christ had given them.