Homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost
Today, the Easter season reaches its culmination with the Solemnity of Pentecost.
Pentecost was a feast day for the Jewish people. On this day, many Jews were known to have made a special pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem. At first, the feast was celebrated as a day of thanksgiving for the harvest and subsequently it also became a commemoration of the Ten Commandments that were given by God to Moses. Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the Passover.
Jesus’ return to his Father makes it possible for God to come to us in a way more active and more powerful than before. Only the second person of the Blessed Trinity became incarnate. Thus everyone was able to see Jesus.
The Holy Spirit can only be experienced by those who are believers.
Jesus now lives and rules through the Catholic Church, which the Holy Spirit brings to life. From the Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ brings every believer to a new existence, to deeper intimacy and directs our deeds and our journey to eternal life.
“And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them” (Acts 2: 2-3).
For many, the Holy Spirit is unknown and misunderstood.
Although it is true that the Holy Spirit can make his presence known through external signs and special gifts for the sake of unbelievers (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11), our personal Pentecost begins with the Sacrament of Baptism and is made deeper through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Through the Sacrament of Baptism, Original Sin is washed away and we become temples of the Holy Spirit, children of God and living members of the Church.
Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, baptismal grace comes to completion. It is through this sacrament that we are bound more perfectly to the Church and endowed with a special strength of the Holy Spirit to fulfill those promises made at Baptism.
Through these sacraments, the Holy Spirit enlightens us with ten special gifts.
The three gifts that we receive at our Baptism are faith, hope and charity.
The seven gifts we receive at our Confirmation are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
We need to remember that through these sacraments we have received an amazing treasure of gifts. It is through our daily spiritual life that these gifts allow us to persevere on our journey to eternity and allow us to be effective and courageous witnesses of the Gospel.
The gift of faith allows us to see the invisible in the visible world. Hope gives us the ability to trust in God who is our Father. Charity provides us with the grace that we need to love God above all things and to love our neighbor just as Jesus loves us.
Wisdom detaches us from the things of this world and causes us to desire only the things of heaven. The gift of understanding helps us to penetrate the truths of our Catholic Faith. Counsel enables us to see and choose correctly those actions that will help us give glory to God and ensure our own eternal salvation.
Fortitude gives us the strength to overcome those obstacles and difficulties that present themselves during our sojourn on earth.
The gift of knowledge shows us the path to follow and alerts us to the dangers that we must avoid in order to attain eternal life in Heaven.
Piety enlightens us with a tender and filial confidence in God and allows us to joyfully embrace all that pertains to our discipleship with Christ.
Finally, the gift of fear of the Lord fills us with a deep respect for God and makes us dread anything that may offend him.
On this Pentecost Sunday we need to open our hearts to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Many times the gifts that we have already received through Baptism and Confirmation have not become fully effective in our lives because our sins, inclinations and attachments are blocking the action of grace in our souls.
Sin, inclinations and attachments are like bad cholesterol.
Whatever may be holding us back from an intimate relationship with God must be uprooted from our lives so that we can fully live the new life that Jesus has gained for us through the Paschal Mystery.
We need to leave behind our attachments to worldly desires. We need to avoid all those sinful attitudes and actions that give Satan a grip on our lives.
On this Pentecost Sunday we need to renew our decision to always walk with the Lord.
This continual struggle to love the Lord and do his will is not an easy task.
However, the Holy Spirit not only assists us in this struggle, he is always there to renew our daily efforts.
In order that the gifts that we have received through Baptism and Confirmation can be effective and transforming, it is necessary that we have a mature spiritual life.
We need to cultivate daily moments of silence. We need to set aside time for meditation or contemplative prayer. Moreover, in order to ensure our success in doing this, we need to regulate our daily lives with tireless discipline so that we may carry out the duties and routines of our daily existence in an orderly manner.
Along with the wonderful gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to us through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, we need also to remember the fruits of the Holy Spirit that we experience as consequences of the gifts.
The fruits are signs or manifestations of his presence in our soul.
Saint Paul enumerates these fruits of the Holy Spirit as charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity (Galatians 5: 22).
Certainly, as we read this list, we can see how beautiful our lives can be when we allow the action of the Holy Spirit to permeate our entire being.