On Pentecost Sunday, we are invited to stop and impress upon ourselves how every single aspect of our life, at all levels, from the biological to the supernatural, is brought into existence, guided and activated by the Holy Spirit.
The fact that we are alive is the work of the Holy Spirit. The fact that, today, we decided to drive to our parish church for Holy Mass is the work of the Holy Spirit. My time and thought applied to the preparation of this homily and your willingness to open your minds and hearts to God’s Word, you guessed it, is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our decision to trust God once more in spite of having many prayers gone unanswered is his work. Our decision to forgive, to overlook, to minimize the hurts inside, is all his work. Our inner disposition to be moved to compassion, to do our best for our family and our community is all his work.
There is nothing good, healthy, wholesome, uplifting, and praiseworthy which is not inspired in us by the Holy Spirit.
Today we are invited to dwell on just a few vital aspects of His divine action in our hearts. The Gospel passage (John 7:37-39) ties the gift of peace to the reception of the Holy Spirit from the side of the Risen Lord Jesus opened by the soldier’s lance, while on the cross, and from which rivers of living water flowed; it also ties it to the other wounds visible on his glorified body. Those wounds are the most compelling proof that the peace which Christ gives is quite different from any other type of peace with which we are familiar and for which we hope.
Jesus’ peace proves that the Father has kept all his promises to us. His peace is also evidence that our entire life unfolds, day after day, around the clock, under the watchful and caring eyes of the Father. Jesus’ peace means that we can look forward with confidence and resolve to a promising, fruitful and glorious future. Jesus’ peace becomes the abiding inner disposition of all those who, enlighten by the Gospel, are ready to become totally docile to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and relinquish to Him the direction which their efforts and hopes should take in dealing with evil and sin.
Nowadays, we find ourselves at a very crazy juncture. Our country is split down the middle. Apprehension, frustration, anger and bitter discord are felt by many because foolish people have decided to concentrate their efforts independently of God or even against God and His Church. But we cannot forget that the Risen Lord, radiant in his victory over our worst enemy, death itself, has given to some men the power to eradicate sin from the hearts of people.
We should feel deeply anguished that, on the one hand most people are casual about sin rather than being horrified by its irrational devastation striking at random the guilty and the innocent alike and, on the other, that the totally uncontainable power of the Holy Spirit is left partially untapped. We shall think, even if just for a brief moment, about the devastation caused by the sin of pride: all the violence, assaults, jealousies, divisions, contentions, wars, vendettas, tears and death that it causes. For another few seconds, we shall think also of the sin of greed: how many families are destroyed; how much misery is unleashed; how many suicides result from someone’s insatiable hunger for money. All this happens without mentioning lawsuits, widespread corruption, shameless lying, deceptions, betrayals and unspeakable hardships.
The Holy Spirit, available through the ministry of the Church, can uproot these and all other sins from the face of the earth!
Moving now to the 2nd reading (Galatians 5:16-25), we could compare the action of the Holy Spirit to life-giving water. The same stream running through a grove can irrigate a large variety of fruit-bearing trees, thus enabling each of them to produce tasty and generous fruit, according to their species. This analogy should prompt us to spend some time at home going over our personal fruit production, according to our personality traits, temperament and skills, for the good of our soul, family, place of work and community.
If we sense that someone in our family or in our community expects or needs more love, or more joy, or more peace, or more patience, or more kindness, or more generosity, or more faithfulness, or more gentleness, or more self-control from us, we should feel so indebted to them that we beg the Holy Spirit to generate in us the heavenly gift which is wanting for an overflowing of genuine joy all around.
To motivate us, I think we should picture how different our family, our workplace, our church, our community would look if we gave more of ourselves. As an added incentive, we might want to ask the Holy Spirit for a spark of His divine fire to burn away all traces of indolence, to erase all lame excuses, to allay all fears and to propel us past all our hesitations.
At times, I wonder what would happen if a decent number of us decided, all at the same time, to allow the Holy Spirit to do what He did on that Pentecost day, and asked Him to use them for His divine purpose without holding back. Let me dream with you. Let me hope with you that this would happen also among us in our corner of the world.
What the Holy Spirit would do is simply this: He would teach us the language that every single person on the face of the earth understands, the language of genuine love. It is the only language that is free of all ideologies, self-interest and ulterior motives. It is the only language open to anyone different from us; it is the language spoken by those willing to listen, to trust, to try new ways and are ready for self-sacrifice. The language of genuine love breaks down all barriers and levels away all obstacles; thus, it would unify our country that is presently so woefully divided and torn apart.
Can we all dream together? Can we all hope together? Can we all let the Holy Spirit renew the face of the earth starting right among us and with our little corner of the world?