Gift of the Holy Spirit helps us share faith, hope, and love

By: By Sharon Priester

Pentecost Sunday, May 27

Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1,24,29-30,31,34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7,12-13 or Galatians 5:15-25; John 20:19-23 or John 15:26-27,16:12-15

This weekend we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, the birth of the Church. The first reading begins with the disciples gathering for Pentecost, a feast when the Israelite men traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest festival, 50 days after Passover. They brought the first loaves of bread made from the spring crop of wheat, offering them to the Lord.

Recall that the disciples were a close-knit group. A little more than 50 days before, they sat with Jesus at the Last Supper. During the meal, Jesus spoke to them about the Advocate that would come from the Father and from Jesus. This Paraclete would testify to Jesus and be a guide for the disciples.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples gathered behind locked doors, fearing for their lives. While there, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:22) He then breathed on them, just as God had breathed on Adam. God gave life to Adam. Now Jesus gives the disciples a new spiritual life and a mission “to proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (John 16:20)

As they now gather together in Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, they hear “a noise like a strong driving wind” and tongues of fire appear, which came “to rest on each one of them” (Acts 2:3), filling them with the Holy Spirit. As they speak to a large group of people from many different nations, each person hears the message of the disciples in his own language. Confusing, and, at the same time, amazing. How could this possibly happen?

Just as God, at creation, brought about order to “a formless wasteland, and darkness,” (Genesis 1:1), the Holy Spirit brought order to this community, which could not even speak to one another, and allowed them to hear in their own language “the mighty acts of God.” (Acts 2:11)

This transformation of the disciples by the Holy Spirit did not end here. The disciples continued to teach the people about Jesus, carrying the message to all the nations.

BEGIN WITH PRAYER
In the second reading, Paul speaks to the people who had been baptized and tells them they are one body in Christ. Even though they are diverse, they are all parts of the mystical Body of Christ, all having gifts, all having a function in the community. He continues to tell them that if each person were to use his/her gift for the good of all people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he/she would be saying with their whole being that “Jesus is Lord.” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

We, like the early Christians, are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, who helps us to share our faith, hope and love of God with others. How can we do this? You may be saying “I can’t do that.” I said that, too! Many years ago, I never thought that I would be teaching religious education classes in a parish, talking to people about my faith or writing articles like this. I know that it was because of the Holy Spirit that I have been able to do this. There were times that my tongue was tied and I had no idea of what I was going to say. But, the Holy Spirit kept that conversation going much to my amazement.

You too can experience this. Reflect on the gifts with which you have been blessed. How can you share these gifts and Christ’s commandment to “Love one another.” (John 13:34) Begin with prayer and trust in God. He will send the Holy Spirit to guide you: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And enkindle 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.”

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SHARON PRIESTER is one of six regional directors of religious education working with the diocesan Office of Catechetics. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.

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