Holy Spirit, You're mine - Pentecost 4 June 2017

Friends, it's Pentecost day, today, we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the birthday of the Church. We read in the Gospels that after Jesus had left His disciples and ascended into heaven, they returned to the Upper Room where they had gathered around Jesus and celebrated the last Supper. According to tradition, it is in the same room the Pentecost took place. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he said, "the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all that I have said to you." The Spirit makes Jesus present to us in a new way.

The Holy Spirit's person has fascinated me and inspired me to search for her work in my life and in the world. I live in eternal wonder when I consider everything that the Holy Spirit can do among us. When the Holy Spirit comes, things happen. The mystery of Holy Spirit surpasses my ability to interpret. I just want to ponder on some things its existence gives rise to. I have had the privilege of attending prayer meetings of both Charismatic Renewal Movement and Catholic Biblical Movement, two groups in the Church that emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians. At these prayer meetings, there are different things happen. Among other things, the participants sing praise songs, speak different tongues, fall over, scream, cry and rejoice. I have prayed and read the Bible and spiritual literature in the search for understanding and explanations for these manifestations. The more I search, the more deeper questions arise. Therefore, I cannot claim to have understood how these manifestations happen. I have also observed that these manifestations can take place in other religions not only at Christian prayer meetings. This makes it more difficult to comprehend.

There are images of the Holy spirit in the Old Testament. We read from the Old Testament that at the beginning of creation "the depth was covered with darkness, and the spirit of God hovered over the water" (Genesis 1: 2). The wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit (ru ach). With the Evangelist John, we read a story I consider interesting in speaking of the Holy Spirit (John 7: 37-39). Sukkot (Festival of the Tabernacle) was one of the three pilgrimage festivals along with Passover and Shavuot, which united all Jews in holy feast. From the first book, we see that it is the Spirit that gives life (1Mos 2: 7), and renews the face of the earth (Ps 104:30).

Pentecost is one of the most important Jewish feasts. It was originally an agricultural festival to thank God for his great gifts. Later it became a celebration to commemorate when God gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. During the Pentecost celebration, as in the Easter celebration, many Jews in Palestine and those living in the Diaspora used to travel to Jerusalem on pilgrimage. It is important to note that it was during the Jewish Passover when the Jews celebrate their liberation from Egypt, that Jesus through his death and resurrection gave the world victory over sin and death. It was also just when the Jews received God's law on Sinai, the day when God made a covenant with his chosen people as he poured out his Spirit over the New Israel (Galatians 6:16).

Today's first reading (Acts 2: 1-11) talks about what it means to receive the Holy Ghost. When she comes into a person, something starts to burn in the individual. By God blowing his life into a human being, she became a living creature. The spirit is life-giving. It is the same Spirit that gives the different gifts and the different services in the Church. Without the spirit, God is far away. With the Spirit, our human actions in liturgy and preaching are divinely translated. The Father has promised to send His Spirit (Acts 1: 1-14). Behold, I will let my spirit come into you, that you may be alive again. In Joel's book, we hear, "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh ..." (2:28).

The Russian mystic Serafim of Sarov (1759-1833) said that the goal of Christians in life is to know the Holy Spirit. We can add that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to awaken in us the theological virtues of: faith, hope and love, and let them begin to grow. Therefore, all other charisma and grace gifts are only means used by the Holy Ghost to increase faith, hope and love in us (Jacques Philippe, Internal Freedom). The Holy Spirit makes our faith an existential experience, a relationship. This means relation to self, between the outer and inner life in which I become one with my soul, a journey of self-discovery. It is also a relationship with God that is the basis of my existence and finally a relationship with fellow human beings. The Holy Spirit is a person, it is love. As a human being, you are first in relationship with the Holy Spirit when you live in love. Experience of the Holy Ghost leads us to God and fellow human beings and God becomes everything for us. If you have God, then you also have everything. It is the Holy Spirit who unites us with God and gives us grace to follow in the world.

I have wondered what the Scriptures mean when it is said that tongues that spread out like fire stayed on each of them. Does this tongue mean fire in a physical or symbolic way? If the latter is the case, we wonder why the same does not happen at our confirmation. Furthermore, we hear that they began to speak other tongues. Should it be expected that those who receive this sacrament in the Church also receive the same gift? Words are not enough to speak of the work of the Spirit in a person. She does much more than we can fathom. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, Jesus will be even more present than before. The Holy Ghost will not only be with us but in us. It is Jesus Himself who comes in and through the Holy Spirit. With Paul, we hear, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you came to believe? This means one can believe without having ever heard of the Holy Spirit or received her.

Among most Protestants, especially Pentecostal and Evangelical Christians, the work of the Holy Ghost is emphasized in a human being and in the world. Some claim to heal the sick with the power of the Spirit. It is easy to reject such statements as manipulations of a massive psychosis. Previously, I used to be very critical of what happens among these Christians. Today, I understand more that it is impossible to interpret or use psychology to rationalize or dismiss what the Holy Spirit does in a human being. "The wind blows wherever it wills, and you hear it blow, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes" (John 3: 8)

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