Pentecost: Growing in love with the Holy Spirit, and in intimacy with the Trinity
Living the Word / By Father Tim Hepner
Solemnity of Pentecost/June 5
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1,24,29-30,31,34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7,12-13 or Romans 8:8-17; John 20:19-23 or John 14:15-16,23b-26
Imagine a young man bringing his girlfriend home to meet his family, introducing her one by one to each person, telling her their names as she smiles and shakes their hand. First dad, then mom, then his younger brother. Imagine that he then skips over his sister, leaving her standing with her outstretched hand empty. Unfortunately, this is how we often treat the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, ignoring him as we speak to God the Father and Jesus his Son.
The Holy Spirit, who is a divine person co-equal to the Father and the Son and sharing in God’s one divine nature, is a distinct person who desires a relationship with us. St. John Paul II described him as the love between the Father and the Son, the source of self-giving love that is at the heart of all human relationships. If you see within yourself the profound human desire to love and be loved, to give of yourself and to receive another, then you see a glimpse of the infinite Love which is the Holy Spirit.
This week the Church celebrates Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was introduced to humanity in an open way as he rushed onto the apostles in the form of tongues of fire, driving them to proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen. The apostles had encountered the Spirit before, as Jesus described his intimate relationship with the Father and the Spirit on Holy Thursday saying, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26).
Jesus’ disciples have the awesome privilege of being drawn into the inner life of God himself, which was opened up for us by Christ’s death on the cross as the veil to the Holy of Holies was torn open (Matthew 27:51). At Pentecost, this invitation is made to the whole world. And just as the Spirit is the loving union between the Father and the Son, so now the Spirit becomes the authentic union among all people and races, forming a truly universal gathering of people which we call the Catholic Church.
To have the Holy Spirit in one’s life and to be in continual relationship with him changes everything. Like the apostles, we don’t have to fear death, because he is the Spirit of the Resurrection. We don’t have to fear abandonment because he is the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:15).
We begin to understand things about God through wisdom, because we know him personally. We come to know and believe the truths of our faith, even the difficult ones, through the gift of understanding. We learn how to act in confusing situations and defend the truth through the gift of counsel. We live as brave Christians through fortitude, ready even to die a martyr’s death. We understand God’s purpose for our life and see how even the most difficult circumstances are woven into his plan through knowledge. We grow in a desire to worship God through piety and we have a deep awe and respect for him through fear of the Lord.
Let’s ask for the grace to acknowledge and grow in love with the Holy Spirit, so that we can grow in intimacy with the Trinity, live boldly as Christian disciples, and live with him forever in heaven!
Father Timothy Hepner is pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Monmouth, and St. Patrick Parish, Raritan. He also serves as chaplain for the St. Augustine Newman Club at Monmouth College.