Alive with the Holy Spirit

Sister Barbara Ann Mayer | June 1, 2017

This Sunday, Christians around the world celebrate Pentecost, the day on which the early church received the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit, who would give them the power to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:3-8). This was the beginning of the Christian church.

On this day, we commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit which gives us “God’s very life, breath and energy.” Just as the disciples were fearful after Jesus’ death, we also often lack courage to proclaim the good news. Jesus reminded them, and he reminds us, that we are co-heirs with him and that we are baptized by one Spirit into one body, and that the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives inside each of us (Romans 8:9-11).

St. Paul relates that, at that first Pentecost, there were people from many different countries speaking in their own language, yet everybody understood one another. That was a shock to those present and they thought the disciples were drunk. But it was a great lesson in communication. Because the Holy Spirit was speaking though them, there was no language barrier. When we let God speak through us with no obstacles or hindrances, our message will be clear no matter what tongue our listeners speak.

Love is a universal language. Missionaries to other lands discover this right away. When they show people the crucifix and tell them that God loved them so much he gave his life for them, they comprehend. When they tell people about the Eucharist, that it is bread for the hungry and the poor, they understand that God cares about them.

We don’t have to be missionaries though. All of us ought to be on fire with the Spirit in our daily dealings with others. Then we will see that it is worth our time and energy to be present to each of them. We will reach out to those who are on the margins of society, discriminated against, homeless, or think differently than we do. If we are alive with the Spirit, people will see it, feel it, desire to share it. That means we have to shed our selfishness, our prejudices, our lack of compassion, in order to be Christians in deed, not only in word.

St. Basil the Great captures the essence of the Holy Spirit: “Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him … As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others,” (from St. Basil’s treatise “On the Holy Spirit”).

Come Holy Spirit, fill us with your light and grace. Set us on fire with your love and goodness so we can warm the spirits of all who dwell in darkness and fear. May we be “a source of grace for others.”