Fr Vincent's reflections on Pentecost Sunday 2021
On this Feast of Pentecost, it is good for us to rekindle our relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. When you pray to the Spirit, whom do you see, and how do you pray? Those who have been Confirmed have received the fullness of God’s Spirit, as did the Disciples on Pentecost. How are you making use of this awesome seven-fold Gift of the Spirit?
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on Pentecost Sunday 2021
Read the script:
Pentecost (May 23, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Feast of Pentecost, 2021, let us pray:
O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast
sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation,
pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit
across the face of the earth
and, with the divine grace that was at work
when the Gospel was first proclaimed,
fill now, once more, the hearts of believers.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is John 20:19-23.
✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Pentecost, of course, is the Feast of the Holy Spirit. But, who or what is the Holy Spirit? Encyclopedic volumes have been written about the Holy Spirit, so I have no plans to repeat all of that here. Yet, I hope this reflection will help each of us to experience something of the Holy Spirit on this day and on each and every day of our lives.
The Catholic Church, and all Christian religions, teach that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. As a person, the Spirit is completely equal to the Father and the Son. Traditionally, the pronoun, “He” is given to the Spirit, the same as is given to Jesus and to the Father. But, there is no Scriptural revelation of the Spirit’s “gender,” unlike Jesus who is clearly a man, and unlike Jesus referring to God as “Father” and himself as “Son.” But, we still should not refer to the Spirit as “it” because it is a true person. Most keep the gender-neutral word “spirit” to avoid awkward pronouns. My only point here is that we need to cultivate a person-to- person, heart-to-heart relationship with the Holy Spirit as I hope we have with Jesus and God the Father.
The Scriptural images of the Holy Spirit: wind or breath, fire or light, or even a dove, are strictly images and not personifications. That means, we don’t pray to the wind or fire or dove. They show us the “unseen” nature of the Spirit, or the “brightness” and “energy” of the Spirit, or the “freedom” of the Spirit. None of these images limit or confine the Spirit, but express unique characteristics for a Person who defies limitations. Effectively, the Holy Spirit can be imagined in almost any way you might choose. As the “Love” of God, you might see an image of a Valentine heart. As the “Wisdom” of God, you might picture a huge and old leather-bound book, too large to hold or difficult even to open. As the “Peace” of God, maybe undulating layers upon layers of soft fabric which cradle your body in weightlessness might capture your imagination. In other words, no image or any image might work as you try to visualize to whom you speak when your prayer is addressed to the Holy Spirit.
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom, Counsel, Courage (or Fortitude), Piety, and Awe (or Fear of the Lord). To think that we are “filled” with these at Confirmation can be a bit overwhelming. Yet in truth, that is what the Sacrament of Confirmation does for each person; we are given the fullness of God’s Spirit, truly, for ever and ever! As I tell people, don’t try to think of getting it all at once, but think more of these gifts being books placed on the bookshelf of your soul. You are able to pull any one off the shelf and use it as often and as much as needed when they are needed.
Wow, that was a longer introduction than I expected. But don’t worry, I’m actually ready to move to the conclusion. You see, I trust the Holy Spirit to speak to you and give you what you need today, or any day. I don’t need to “explain” the Spirit. Nor can I tell you anything the Spirit needs to tell you; that’s between the two of you, but I believe your conversation will be wonderful!
All I need to say is that the Holy Spirit wants a true person-to-person relationship with you. So let the Spirit be a real person for you, just like Jesus is, or just like God, “Abba,” is.
I can’t tell you how to picture the Spirit, but I can invite you to find an image with which you are comfortable. And I believe the Spirit is God enough to allow you to have that imagination and give you comfort through your chosen image.
Finally, I can say without doubt that you are not lacking in God’s Spirit if you have been confirmed, whether or not you believe that about yourself. I do invite you to read up on the Seven Gifts and then look within yourself to find them, because they are as real as the Holy Spirit, Himself. And they were given to you for your good and the good of others. Use them because this is how God plans to bless you and the world around you!
And now, I would like to offer the tri-part Blessing for Pentecost:
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
Bow down for the blessing.
May God, the Father of lights,
who was pleased to enlighten the disciples’ minds
by the outpouring of the Spirit, the Paraclete,
grant you gladness by his blessing
and may you always abound with the gifts of the same Spirit. R/. Amen.
May the wondrous flame that appeared above the disciples,
powerfully cleanse your hearts from every evil
and pervade them with purifying light. R/. Amen.
And may God, who has been pleased to unite many tongues
in the profession of one faith,
give you perseverance in that same faith
and, by believing, may you journey from hope to clear vision. R/. Amen.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.