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The Feast of Pentecost

posted May 25, 2015, 7:52 AM by Church of the Risen Christ   [ updated May 28, 2015, 7:56 AM ]
The Holy Spirit empowers and animates the Church

Jesus had come down from heaven to pay the price for man's sin. After he had completed his task, it was time for Jesus to return to the Father. But he had reassured his disciples that he was not abandoning them; instead, he was going back to the Father so that he can send the Holy Spirit to take God's mission of salvation into its next phase.

Pentecost celebrates the event in the history of the Church when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and indeed on the whole Church. At that time, the Apostles were holed up in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). But when the Holy Spirit swooped down on them in tongues of fire, the Apostles felt a mighty surge of power as they had never experienced before. They started speaking about the marvels of God. The people of different nationalities -- Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Syrians and even Romans and those from other lands -- were amazed that they could hear them in their own native language. And since it was the first time that the Church became fully charged and fully animated, Pentecost is considered as the birthday of the Church.

The Role of the Spirit
During his earthly ministry, Jesus had tried to tell his disciples about the things of heaven and many other things, but his disciples lacked either the intellect or the faith to grasp what he was trying to say. Now the Holy Spirit transformed their hearts and minds to understand the more sublime things pertaining to God and the heavenly kingdom.

The Holy Spirit also injected a boldness and sense of purpose in the disciples so that they were prepared to make sacrifices to bring the good news of salvation to the ends of the world. Indeed, some of them took after Jesus and give their lives in extending the gospel message. From hiding in the Upper Room, they started fanning out to the far reaches of the ancient world.

The Gifts of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the dispenser of spiritual gifts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church names seven gifts: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord. However, the variety of gifts that God gives us through the Holy Spirit cannot be limited. Indeed, there are also the Charismatic gifts of Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, the Discernment of Spirits, Tongues, the Interpretation of Tongues and many others besides.

Some of the gifts such as piety and tongues are meant to enrich the individual; others such as prophecy, the Interpretation of Tongues and healing are meant to edify and benefit the larger Christian community.

The Fruits of the Spirit
If we live our lives fully in the Spirit, we will experience some, if not all, of the Fruits of the Spirit. The Book of Galatians mentions Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Long Suffering, Modesty, Chastity and Self-Control (Gal 5:22-23). As with the gifts of the Spirit, there are countless other fruits which are not named.

The Holy Spirit of God is as present and active today as it was in the days of the Apostles. It is available to all baptised Christians for all time. But how effective the Spirit is in us depends on how fully we avail ourselves of its fellowship and its power.

We pray to the Holy Spirit to melt us, mould us, fill us and use us for the benefit of the Church and the glory of God.  “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.”