Rev. Mark Watson/Pastor
PENTECOST: THE RECEPTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Almost 90 days ago we began the Season of Lent. Lent was a time of turning away from sin and toward God and a time of reflecting on the meaning of our baptism. Lent ended with the celebration of the Triduum on Holy Thursday evening. This sacred time allowed us to anticipate the upcoming celebration of Easter. At the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Masses, we celebrated the initiation sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. These were glorious celebrations. Please keep our newly initiated in your prayers.
On Easter Sunday we began the Season of Easter. Throughout the Easter Season, we have reflected on the meaning of the resurrection of Christ and the new life that we have received through Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is the celebration of the sending of the Holy Spirit. This event which closes the Season of Easter is also the last event in the Paschal Mystery – the Suffering, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Sending of the Spirit. They are the central mysteries of our salvation.
Pentecost is often called the Birthday of the Church because after the Apostles receive the Holy Spirit they go out boldly and bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. It is the celebration which marks the beginning of the ministry and life of the Church. It is a celebration which reminds us that we received the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation and that through the power of the Holy Spirit we are called to bring the Good News of salvation to those whom we meet.
In his article “The Message of Pentecost” Karl Rahner makes the following points. First Rahner says that Pentecost shows that “God is ours.” Pentecost celebrates that God has given us his whole being without reserve through his gift of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost shows that God loves us and has blessed us with himself. Rahner states that we should not lose sight of just how blessed we are to have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We first receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism. In order to remain in the Holy Spirit, we must be a people of conversion. Conversion means turning away from sin and back to God. This conversion is to take place each day.
The Holy Spirit is always with us, even in times of darkness and pain when we do not feel the Spirit’s presence. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift of love that cannot be earned nor controlled.
The readings that we will hear this weekend first show that the Holy Spirit works in our interior spiritual lives to transform and recreate us. The Gospel writer John speaks of the Holy Spirit reminding us of the words of Jesus and leading us to all truth. So we are to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit within our lives.
While the Holy Spirit transforms our individual lives, we receive the Holy Spirit for the upbuilding of the community. Through the Holy Spirit, we receive spiritual gifts so that we can better share our faith with others. In addition, the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles a sense of boldness which allowed them to move beyond their fear and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Thus the Holy Spirit not only works within our lives but helps to shape how we publicly live and share our faith.
My reflection on the working of the Holy Spirit has led me to ask a question. How do we open ourselves to both hear the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to live out the gifts of the Holy Spirit? The answer for me is twofold. First, we are to be a people of prayer and reflection who listen to the Spirit within. Second, we are to live lives of holiness which do not quench the presence of the Holy Spirit. The holiness of life allows us to listen to God and then to faithfully follow the promptings of God.
The presence of the Holy Spirit helped the disciples to share their faith and to form the new Christian community. As we look ahead to the future of our parish let us reflect on how each of us will use our spiritual gifts to build up our community.
I invite all parishioners to reflect on how God is calling you to use your spiritual gifts to work with Fr. Fidel in building up Christ the King Church. This may come through youth ministry, RCIA, Small Faith Communities, social events, Parish School of Religion, visiting the sick, St. Vincent de Paul, retreats and Adult Faith Formation.
May we open ourselves to the life of the Spirit within us. May we allow ourselves to become the living stones with which God will build up our parish community.
A blessed week to all! Fr. Mark