Father Leslie Hoppe, OFM

May 19: Pentecost Sunday

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Giving thanks for the Spirit

Acts 2:1-11; Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34; Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23

In many families, religious communities, parishes and businesses, there are people who take care of things without a lot of fanfare or recognition. They do not look for thanks but only for the opportunity to be of service. As a result, their contributions are sometimes overlooked, and their service is not always appreciated as it should be.

The role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians does not always receive the recognition it deserves. The Solemnity of Pentecost provides the opportunity to offer thanks for the gift of the Spirit.

Today’s first lesson tells of the miraculous effects of the Spirit in the lives of the disciples gathered in the upper room on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Today, on the Christian feast of Pentecost, we gather for worship to offer our thanks for the gift of Holy Spirit in our lives.

But what precisely is the gift of the Spirit? Simply put, the Holy Spirit is the source of life as we affirm in the Nicene Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life.”

The book of Genesis tells of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters when the earth was formless and void of life. That Spirit brought life to this world — first to plants and trees, then to birds and animals and then finally to human beings. The Spirit of God overshadowed the Virgin Mary, and she conceived in her womb of the Son of the Most High. On the cross, Jesus died as he bowed his head and gave up his Spirit, but the risen Christ bestowed that Spirit on the church for the forgiveness of sins. 

The life that the Spirit gives is God’s own life — the life of the three persons of the Trinity. We have that life now, at this moment, but while we live in this world, we will not experience it to the full. Jesus promised, however, that those who believe in him will have eternal life: “I am the resurrection and life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” The life that the Spirit gives is the fulfillment of that promise.

Our worship ought to be a response to the gift of the Spirit. We begin our worship by recalling how we have failed to live in the Spirit. This prepares us to hear the word of God with open hearts and to offer God thanks for all God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

After giving thanks, we share in the Lord’s Supper though which our life with God is nourished. With our time of worship completed, we return to the world, empowered by the Spirit for the service of our sisters and brothers.

Whatever good we accomplish is the result of the gift of the Spirit that we have received.

Jesus lived as a man for others and his Spirit empowers us to do the same. St. Paul lists some of the effects of a life empowered by the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

A life empowered by the Spirit is a life worth living. It is a life that is the most appropriate response to the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus by whom we were saved.

A life empowered by the Spirit can be just as miraculous as the preaching of the disciples after the Spirit descended on them as tongues of fire. Imagine what good can be accomplished if every Christian embraced the gift of the Spirit and lived by its power. We have the power of the Spirit to transform the world if we only make use of the great gift that we have received.

Topics:

  • scripture
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