From the Pastor's Desk
From Easter to Pentecost our readings focus on the early apostolic preaching of the Good News of salvation and on the promises of Jesus to his disciples, especially his promise of the Holy Spirit. Today’s readings explain Who the Holy Spirit is, what His roles are and how we can experience Him in our daily lives.
The first reading describes how the Holy Spirit helped the Deacon Philip to preach powerfully and convert the Samaritans in large numbers. It also explains how the baptized Samaritans received a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands by the apostles Peter and John.
In the second reading, Peter shows us the God-fearing lives, which the Holy Spirit makes it possible for believers, including ourselves, to live in the midst of opposition and persecution.
Today’s Gospel, taken from Jesus’ “Last Supper Discourse,” describes the gift he will send, the Holy Spirit, Who will live as the Paraclete, the Divine Advocate, in those who obey Jesus’ commandments, especially the commandment of love. Thus, Jesus will continue to live in his believers with the Father and the Holy Spirit and they will not be left as orphans.
The risen Jesus’ continued presence in us and in the Church through the Holy Spirit gives meaning and purpose to all we are and all we do in his Name. As the Divine Advocate, the Holy Spirit will instruct us in Jesus’ doctrines and illumine our minds to receive deeper knowledge of our Faith. In addition, the Divine Advocate will empower us to defend our Faith powerfully and guide us properly in the practice of true Christian love. Thus, we will be able to recognize Jesus in the in the poor, in the sick, in the homeless, in the marginalized, in the outcast, in the drug addicts and even in the criminals ("I was in prison..."), thus becoming agents of healing and reconciliation in a broken and divided world.
The Jewish concept of Spirit: In Hebrew, the word for spirit is ruach in Greek, pneuma in Latin, spiritus – all of which suggest breathing. The idea is that when a person is breathing, he is alive. It is from this notion that the idea of an animating, life-giving, intelligent and active force comes. The word (in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin), thus meant “breath”, “life” and “spirit.” The Jewish tradition taught that when the Messiah came, God’s very own Life (Breath, Spirit) would be poured out upon all the faithful believers.
We need to be open to the Holy Spirit, our Paraclete. The purpose of the indwelling Holy Spirit is to help us grow towards maturity and wholeness. We all have faults that prevent our growth: blocks of sin and imperfection, blocks due to childhood conflicts, blocks due to deeply ingrained personality traits and habits, blocks caused by addictions, and blocks resulting from bad choices we have made. We all have these blocks within us and they keep us from becoming what God wants us to be. They prevent us from growing into maturity and wholeness. God, the Holy Spirit, helps us see the truth about ourselves, to discern the blocks that inhibit our growth and to allow Him to transform us. Like the good counselor He is, the Spirit enables us to become stronger. The Holy Spirit also comes to our aid and gives us the strength to make difficult and painful decisions. God’s Spirit actually lives in us, and we hear the voice of the Spirit, counseling and guiding us in the way of truth. Let us open the ears of our minds to hear Him and to obey His promptings.