For the past seven weeks, we have celebrated Our Lord’s Resurrection and recalled his many appearances to the Apostles. As they recognised Our Lord’s presence among them they were filled with comfort, reassurance, inner-peace and strength. Today, as the Easter season draws to an end, we commemorate the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles in the form of a roaring wind and tongues of fire. The first reading describes the spectacular baffling effect produced on the Apostles by the coming of the Holy Spirit. The change in their lifestyle was startling: they threw aside caution; no longer afraid they rushed out into the streets to begin their mission of preaching the Good News. Suddenly there was no longer uncertainty, rather everything fell into place and made sense. At that moment the Church was born. The Holy Spirit filled the Apostles with new hope and courage. They received the power and the strength to go out into the world and enthusiastically continue the work that Christ had begun.
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost wasn’t a once and for all event, but the beginning of his permanent presence in the Church. By virtue of our Baptism, the Holy Spirit is closer to us than we dare imagine. Wherever there are hearts open to receive him, the Spirit of God is poured out, inspiring minds to undertake their mission as Christ’s representatives.
Today’s feast brings home to us the fact that God calls us to a deeper relationship with him and wants us to share in his life. It’s an invitation to enkindle the fire of love and to stir up the grace of our baptismal calling. We don’t always know when the Spirit moves us, yet we are frequently surprised by the power that drives us into action. Whenever we go beyond our own selfish indifference and reach out in genuine concern for people in trouble, then God’s Spirit is at work guiding us, giving us renewed strength to turn upside down accepted human values and the will to move along in a new direction.
As we face the inevitable trials and crosses of life, and encounter the difficulties and disappointments which can leave our daily lives in tatters, we stand in need of the help of the Holy Spirit, whose presence makes such a difference to our outlook on life. Christ has promised that the power of the Spirit will come, but only if we ask for him. And so it’s essential then that in our prayer we leave the door of our hearts open to invite him in. We become different and changed people to the extent that we allow the Holy Spirit to disturb our complacency, uproot our mediocrity, and make way for fresh growth. What the Holy Spirit will bring into our lives – if we permit him to lead us – is joy, peace and love.
On this day of Pentecost, we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who works in countless hidden ways to deepen our faith, fill us with strength and inspiration, and to renew our lives.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.