Pentecost Year C
Deacon Les Ruhrmund
And so we come to the end of our Easter celebrations.
Pentecost – the fiftieth day after Easter Sunday – is sometimes called the birthday of the Church. We celebrate today that day, fifty days after the Resurrection, that the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor, the Paraclete, the one promised by Jesus at the Last Supper, came upon the apostles and anointed them with the fire of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the continued presence of Jesus on earth.
Pentecost heralds a turning point in the world; a turning point in the history of salvation. While Jesus in his humanity was only present to the people living in Israel at that time, Jesus in the Holy Spirit is present everywhere, in everything, in every time. After their Pentecost experience, the apostles went out into the world and spoke without fear or favour about the Messiah, the Holy Spirit and the good news of salvation. The church was born.
And here we are over 2000 years later, remembering and celebrating that first Christian Pentecost as we celebrate also our own Pentecost. Most of us have been anointed with the fire of the Holy Spirit; we’ve had our Pentecost experience.
First in Baptism and then sealed in the sacrament of Confirmation, we have been anointed and received the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
When we were in Sydney for WYD in 2008, we experienced and witnessed vividly the universal church that was born at Pentecost; that outpouring of the Holy Spirit; the ruling of God’s kingdom in our hearts; a time and place where the fruits of the Spirit were tangible to the complete exclusion of the evil forces that continuously prowl seeking to turn us away from God.
The fruits of the Spirit include joy, peace, patience, faith, goodness, kindness and generosity.
The fruits are products of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
In our catechesis one morning in Sydney, the lesson was taken by a visiting bishop (from Canada I think) who spoke to us about receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit. “Imagine” he said “that I give you a gift. It is beautifully wrapped and I give it to you with great love. You receive it and now have to decide what to do with it. You can put it aside with the intention of opening it later; or you can open it, have a look – and then decide; either to put it away and come back to it at another time or you can take the gift out of the wrapping, accept it with the love from which it comes and use it every opportunity you have.“
The question we could be asking ourselves today is: what have I done with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that I received in the sacrament of Confirmation?
Am I using the gifts or have I put them aside or have I forgotten about them?
The first gift is Wisdom: the wisdom to make wise decisions about the role that God plays in our lives: putting our faith at the heart of our being; the wisdom to be charitable with our time and our resources; loving creation and enjoying the things of this world for the sake of God, rather than for our own gratification. We need this wisdom every day.
The next gift is Understanding: understanding the meaning of life; understanding that our vocation as disciples is to know, love and serve God. When the way ahead seems uncertain or our vision for tomorrow is a bit blurred – we use this gift to get a clearer picture.
Next is the gift of Counsel that helps us know what is right and what is wrong. Using this gift, we are able to judge how best to act almost by intuition and we’re able to advise and help others make good and right decisions. The next time someone asks for your advice or guidance be sure before responding to draw on the Holy Spirit for the gift of Counsel.
The gift of Fortitude is the gift of courage: courage to stand up for what is right and to do what is right no matter what the cost. It is the gift that gives us the strength to hang in there when the going gets tough; to endure pain and suffering without falling into despair. We’re all likely to need this gift in great quantity in our lives.
Next is the gift of Knowledge which works hand in hand with wisdom and understanding. While wisdom gives us the desire to know God, knowledge gives us the ability to understand the meaning of God. The virtue of knowledge is faith.
The sixth gift is Piety which is the gift of reverence. This is the heartfelt desire to worship and serve God not out of a sense of duty or obligation or reward but out of a deep sense of devotion and love.
And finally we have the gift of Fear of the Lord. This is a gift that is often misunderstood. This is not a fear of punishment or retribution. It is a fear rather like that of a child who is anxious not to offend his parents because he knows how much they love him and he loves them. This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the desire not to offend God, as well as the certainty in hope that God will give us the grace to keep from offending Him. The Fear of the Lord, like Piety, is motivated out of love.
We are indeed blessed to have the power of the Holy Spirit living within our very being. The power to resist and overcome all evil. The power to reveal the love of Jesus to everyone we touch with our lives. The gifts are ours to use – as we choose.
The Holy Spirit helps us become all God has created us to be.
God desires to see His reflection in our lives; everywhere, in everything in every time.
Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with the fire of your love and renew the face of the earth.