Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor.12: 3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23
Strong winds and mighty acts. Our God is full of surprises and special effects, today, the birthday of the Church. God takes this fearful group of disciples by storm, by strong winds and fiery acts. The Holy Spirit descends as fire on the disciples, gathered in the upper room with Our Lady. The fire ignites the public life of the Church. In the reading from Acts, the disciples announce the word of God publicly to all who will listen, in all languages.
Amid the apostles’ fear, Jesus comes and says, “Peace be with you.” In effect: ‘I am with you and the Spirit will be with you.’ This is the Paraclete. Deacon Bruce reminded us two weeks ago: “The word Paraclete is translated commonly as Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, or Helper, and it describes a Spirit who remains at our side forever (v. 16).” The Spirit brings gifts that bear fruit.
We received The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation, which was our own, individual, personal Pentecost. These gifts are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord (Awe). The Fruits of these gifts are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are observable in a person’s life. Whenever we show these, we are making Christ present in the world. I suspect you show these a lot.
They do not always show themselves in churchy behavior. They can appear in commonsense behavior, the virtue of prudence. I have a recent example in my own life. On Saturday, May 4, amid folding laundry, towels, underwear and socks, it came to me: “Better Google the warning signs of a stroke.” Afterward I described this as a prompting of the Holy Spirit. Evidently, I have more work to do!
So, we can see how the Holy Spirit guards and guides in our mission. Each of us is sent out to be a unique word of Christ’s presence, Christ’s Peace wherever we are, in the language God has given us to speak. Peace is the key.
The Holy Spirit always speaks in peace, not in discord and turmoil – in an individual life, in a family, a community, in the Church. Bishop Robert Barron has just published a short book, Letter to a Suffering Church, about the recent scandals. The Spirit is cleansing the church with its fire. The Bishop calls us to contribute to its renewal and peace with our gifts and fruits. Peace and harmony are the desire of the Spirit for us all.
Peace to you and Happy Birthday to us!