Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Pentecost Sunday and the Holy Spirit 

This Sunday is the feast of Pentecost, which commemorates the birthday of the Church. On the first Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection, The Holy Spirit came upon the small, frightened band of believers in a spectacular and powerful way. We hear about this amazing event in the first reading at Mass, from the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. 

While gathered together indoors, the disciples were startled by “a noise like a strong driving wind” that filled the entire house. Then tongues of fire appeared, “which parted and came to rest on each one of them.” If that wasn’t incredible enough, the Holy Spirit then filled each of the disciples, giving them the power to speak in many different languages. They went outside and began to proclaim the message of the Gospel to a diverse, multi-ethnic crowd. 
The crowd was astounded, and asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?” 

The display of power by the Holy Spirit is certainly spectacular, but we shouldn’t be surprised. Back on the night of the Last Supper, about two months earlier, Jesus promised that the Father would send the Spirit to the disciples. He said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” A bit later Jesus explained, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.” 

Since the Holy Spirit came from Heaven, promised by Jesus and sent by the Father, it would have been surprising only if His arrival was NOT spectacular. The supernatural power of Heaven is extremely potent. We can learn how truly powerful the Holy Spirit is by reading the rest of the Acts of the Apostles. The book is the story of the early church’s struggles to grow and spread the Good News. In chapter after chapter, it is the Holy Spirit who gives the believers the power to do amazing things: travel to distant lands, stand boldly in the courts of kings and rulers, endure persecution and hardship — and all-the-while gathering precious souls into the kingdom of God. There’s no way they could have accomplished what they did without the power of the Holy Spirit to guide them. 

Nowadays many people assume the spectacular power displayed by the Holy Spirit throughout the book of Acts was only for that time in history. The thinking goes that after waiting a gazillion years to make His appearance, the Holy Spirit came and empowered the early disciples in a special way. Then when enough Christian communities were established a few decades later, He went back to Heaven for another prolonged vacation. 
The fact is, the Holy Spirit is still present and active in the lives of believers. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul made it clear that a person cannot even be a follower of Jesus unless the Holy Spirit is present in his or her life. While discussing the ongoing battle we all face between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the spirit, Paul wrote, “But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (emphasis added). 

To be genuine disciples of Jesus, the Holy Spirit must dwell inside our hearts. If He is not there — guiding us and empowering us to righteous living — then we do not belong to Christ.

However, with many people these days, even faithful believers, the power of the Holy Spirit lies dormant. He is just waiting there patiently, hoping we will ask Him to empower us.

With that in mind, I am inviting you to join me at a “Life in the Spirit Seminar,” which will be held at St. Gregory Church’s CCD Center, at 1043 Stafford Ave.,  Bristol, CT, this Saturday, May 27th. The Seminar begins at 9 am and ends at 3 pm. At the Seminar we learn about the power of the Holy Spirit, and pray for a release of His power in our lives.
I’ve attended Life in the Spirit Seminars over the years, but none recently, which is why I’m so excited about this one. The Seminar is fun, informative, friendly, faithful, and fun. (Did I mention that it’s fun?) Also, there are rumors that the Merry Catholic fella will be giving one of the presentations. 

Please prayerfully consider joining us. I can’t think of anything more exciting on the day before Pentecost than a Life in the Spirit Seminar. It just may be the spiritual boost we all need. 

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