Meditations by Msgr. Liptak

 

Msgr. Liptakweekly gospel meditations

 

PENTECOST

The Holy Spirit in Our Christian Lives

 

Acts 2:1-11; First Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23.

 

 

Aim: to explain (1) the role of the Holy Spirit in the first generation Church; and (2) the role of the Holy Spirit in our souls and lives.

 

Sermons about Pentecost and the role of the Holy Spirit seem especially comfortable today, principally because they relate to our experience. Most of us vividly recall Pope John XXIII and the events of Vatican Council 11; to have lived through those events was to have experienced the rush of the Holy Spirit descending upon us as really as he did on the first Pentecost Sunday, as recorded in today's First Reading. For a while we were all heady with the Holy Spirit, as we all plunged into the loving labor of aggiornamento-updating-and ecumenism-the quest for unity.

Since Vatican 11 we have seen further traces of the Spirit's breathing new life, enthusiasm, wisdom and joy into our midst. Witness for example, the growth of charismatic movements, of encounter groups. Witness, too, the sudden surge of new zeal that followed upon the election of Pope John Paul 11: suddenly scores of confused or hiding Catholics came forth from the shadows, acknowledged their identity, and confessed their faith. (This situation was especially evident in Mexico, to which Pope John Paul 11 went for a meeting of the Latin American Bishops.)

The presence of the Spirit has been so detectable in our times that we would have to be spiritually blind not to notice. This is the same Spirit who descended in tongues of fire upon the first Christians gathered in the Upper Room; through the Spirit they became the nucleus of our Church, this Roman Church which has withstood storms and assaults from all sides down through the centuries; this Church which, like the mustard seed of which Jesus once spoke, has become a giant tree whose roots and branches spread to embrace all men.

The same Holy Spirit comes to us today, especially in baptism and confirmation, to steel us for discipleship in Christ's Church. It can even be said that the Sacrament of Confirmation exists to extend to the Church of every age and every place the Spirit given on the first Pentecost. Today's Second Reading affirms this. By this sacrament we are conformed to Christ in a special way; we are in fact sealed with a permanent character and become "temples of the Holy Spirit" (First Corinthians 6:19). By virtue of this sacrament, we are both deputed and strengthened for witnessing to Christ more than ever before. "Deputed," because we are configured to Christ more closely; "strengthened," because through confirmation we receive special gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The fruits or rewards for using these gifts, we know from Scripture (Galatians 5:22-23), are charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, modesty, continency, and chastity.

Again, we who are experiencing the Holy Spirit's breathing these days know so well that all this is real. We also know that the Spirit comes to us through Jesus, who died and rose that the Father and he might so grace us.

When Jesus promised to send the Spirit he did so in the context of today's Gospel, which focuses on forgiveness of sins. The Spirit can only be possessed by welcoming him in repentance, faith and love.

 

 

 
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