Cardinal Newman on Pentecost

Sunday, June 4, AD 2017

 

 

 

WHEN our Lord was going to leave the world and return to His Father, He called His disciples orphans; children, as it were, whom He had been rearing, who were still unable to direct themselves, and who were soon to lose their Protector; but He said, “I will not leave you comfortless orphans, I will come to you;” [John xiv. 18.] meaning to say, He would come again to them in the power of His Holy Spirit, who should be their present all-sufficient Guide, though He Himself was away. And we know, from the sacred history, that when the Holy Spirit came, they ceased to be the defenceless children they had been before. He breathed into them a divine life, and gifted them with spiritual manhood, or perfection, as it is called in Scripture. From that time forth, they put away childish things:  they spake, they understood, they thought, as those who had been taught to govern themselves; and who, having “an unction from the Holy One, knew all things.”

That such a change was wrought in the Apostles, according to Christ’s promise, is evident from comparing their conduct before the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on them, and after. I need not enlarge on their wonderful firmness and zeal in their Master’s cause afterwards. On the other hand, it is plain from the Gospels, that before the Holy Ghost came down, that is, while Christ was still with them, they were as helpless and ignorant as children; had no clear notion what they ought to seek after, and how; and were carried astray by their accidental feelings and their long-cherished prejudices.—What was it but to act the child, to ask how many times a fellow-Christian should offend against us, and we forgive him, as St. Peter did? or to ask to see the Father, with St. Philip? or to propose to build tabernacles on the mount, as if they were not to return to the troubles of the world? or to dispute who should be the greatest? or to look for Christ’s restoring at that time the temporal kingdom to Israel?  Natural as such views were in the case of half-instructed Jews, they were evidently unworthy of those whom Christ had made His, that He might “present them perfect” before the throne of God.

Yet the first disciples of Christ at least put off their vanities once for all, when the Spirit came upon them; {338} but as to ourselves, the Spirit has long since been poured upon us, even from our earliest years; yet it is a serious question, whether multitudes of us, even of those among us who make a profession of religion, are even so far advanced in a knowledge of the Truth as the Apostles were before the day of Pentecost. It may be a profitable employment today to consider this question, as suggested by the text,—to inquire how far we have proceeded in putting off such childish things as are inconsistent with a manly, honest profession of the Gospel.

Now, observe, I am not inquiring whether we are plainly living in sin, in wilful disobedience; nor even whether we are yielding through thoughtlessness to sinful practices and habits. The condition of those who act against their conscience, or who act without conscience, that is, lightly and carelessly, is far indeed from bearing any resemblance to that of the Apostles in the years of their early discipleship. I am supposing you, my brethren, to be on the whole followers of Christ, to profess to obey Him; and I address you as those who seem to themselves to have a fair hope of salvation. I am directing your attention, not to your sins, not to those faults and failings which you know to be such, and are trying to conquer, as being confessedly evil in themselves, but to such of your views, wishes, and tastes, as resemble those which the Apostles cherished, true believers though they were, before they attained their manhood in the Gospel: and I ask, how far you have dismissed these from your minds as vain and trifling; that is, how far you have made what St. Paul in the text seems to consider the first step in the true spiritual course of a Christian, on whom the Holy Ghost has descended.

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One Response to Cardinal Newman on Pentecost

  • Interesting.
    The Apostles were very familiar with Jesus’ mother. They comforted her as she also had comforted them during their time on earth. The relationship is a vital one and should not be glossed over. The relationship between Mary, Apostles and indwelling of the Holy Spirit is more than a formula to advance in the spiritual journey, it is a bond that is as magnificent as mother and child. In this exchange is found an abundance of grace to completely loose one’s life for the cause of Christ.

    Consecrated souls know this relationship. They have child like trust. They nurtured​ a lovely relationship with Mary in their beginning stages of trust which in turn lead them into the richness of knowing Her Son.
    This introduction or familiarity is from the spouse of Mary…the Holy Spirit.

    A consecrated life is not only for religious who profess the vows and live in convent’s.
    No. It’s for everyone. My personal consecration to Jesus through Mary via St. Kolbe’s method lead me almost immediately into a field of service I had never imagined. Profound change resulted in this first step in dieing to self and living a new life in Christ.

    I do not know Jesus in the fullness that the Apostles knew him, but I’ve been allowing myself to be guided by trusting in His inspirations​. Happily too.

    Ad Jesum per Marium.
    When you’ve become a child of Mary you will benefit from the Spouse of Mary.

    Praise be Jesus Christ.. today tomorrow and forever.

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Pentecost and Renewal

Sunday, May 14, AD 2017

 

So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel.

 

When my children were small as the family drove to Mass, I offered the kids a dollar for the first one to sight the Questing Beast, tying the Arthurian legend with the great feast.  When my son died on Pentecost four years ago, the bright spot on that bleak Pentecost was when my bride gave voice to a thought that had occurred to me:  Larry has gone after the Questing Beast.

The birthday of the Church, inaugurated with the great miracles of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire underlining the universal nature of the mission of the Church, at Pentecost has always reminded me that since the coming of Christ we live in an age of miracles, if we only have the wit and the faith to see them.  I know this from personal experience:   since the death of Larry I have received a small miracle to assure me of his love from the other side.

We live in a time in the West of great cultural pessimism and spiritual sickness that has infected the Church.  We forget that over 2000 turbulent years Christ has never failed us and that we Christians should never give way to despair.  We do battle with Principalities and Powers, and not merely misguided or evil fellow men, and Christ is ever ready to aid us if we call on Him in humility and love.

The Holy Spirit, Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us, brings us renewal:

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Of Peter and Pentecost

Sunday, May 15, AD 2016

And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:  17-21

 

 

I have always found it striking that Christ decided to call as His Apostles the plainest of men.  As His Vicar he chose Peter, a humble fisherman, whose courage failed him when Christ needed him most.  In human terms Peter’s desertion of Christ, along with that of the other Apostles except for John, is just what we would expect.  Christ had taken these men from their lowly lots in life, and told them that they would be the chiefs of what He called His Church.  Christ was the linchpin.  When He was executed these former apostles would quickly scatter and resume their previous lives as best they could, the dreams of glory inspired by Christ forgotten in the horror of His execution.  In human terms that is just what should have happened, but it did not.

At Pentecost we recall the great miracle by which the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles, granting them the charism of being understood speaking in the native tongues of all who heard them:

“Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

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One Response to Of Peter and Pentecost

  • “I have always found it striking that Christ decided to call as his Apostles, the plainest of men. ”

    Yep, none of them would get admitted to any Catholic seminary today. Not one.
    Then again, the Council of Trent attempted to standardize seminaries and priestly formation because history showed that sometimes the plainest of men were not good enough.
    So what is the answer? One wonders if seminary rectors should take seminarians on three-year walks in poor regions, and present theology by the campfire.

Pentecost and Other Miracles

Sunday, May 24, AD 2015

 

So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel.

 

When my children were small as the family drove to Mass, I offered the kids a dollar for the first one to sight the Questing Beast, tying the Arthurian legend with the great feast.  When my son died on Pentecost two years ago, the bright spot on that bleak Pentecost was when my bride gave voice to a thought that had occurred to me:  Larry has gone after the Questing Beast.

The birthday of the Church, inaugurated with the great miracles of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire underlining the universal nature of the mission of the Church, at Pentecost has always reminded me that since the coming of Christ we live in an age of miracles, if we only have the wit and the faith to see them.  I know this from personal experience:   since the death of Larry I have received a small miracle to assure me of his love from the other side.

We live in a time in the West of great cultural pessimism and spiritual sickness that has infected the Church.  We forget that over 2000 turbulent years Christ has never failed us and that we Christians should never give way to despair.  We do battle with Principalities and Powers, and not merely misguided or evil fellow men, and Christ is ever ready to aid us if we call on Him in humility and love.

Thirty two years ago Solzhenitsyn had this striking passage in his Templeton Address:

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

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3 Responses to Pentecost and Other Miracles

  • Great birthday gift to our Church, your eloquent words, Mr. McClarey.

    I’m reminded of the fair warning’s given to us at times when men were walking away from God. These warnings are miracle’s as well.

    Our Lady of Lasalette.
    Our Lady of Fatima.
    Our Lady of Akita.

    The multitudes of Gods holy ones that serve Him in Heaven rejoice beyond imagination when one sinner repents, and your call to conversions is THE icing on this pentecost cake 2015.

    All for Gods glory.

  • The Shroud of Turin: studied by scientists who determine that this cloth bears more than science alone can explain. Jesus’ blood type and His human appearance!
    .
    Diego’s tilma from Guadalupe is another miracle. The springtime regrowth – the same plant can do infinitely different kinds of blooms depending on care and environmental conditions, the watchful eyes of nesting birds, migrations, all the movement of the elements, day and night, creation in general, He did it all for us. The horrors are what man under powers or principalities do to beauty and goodness.
    .
    The spiritual sickness is what I pray that the Church will clearly address when speaking of the ‘poor’ – so that men will connect the dots; Solzhenitsyn did so, the above haunting lyrics do so. The illness has Divinely inspired cure in black and white.
    .
    The “omg” slang is something for the users to ponder, as if a starting point of return – as if frozen on speaking the “g” and hearing the Word.

    ‘Up with the good, and down with the bad’ – a phrase of my mother’s when she still used staircases.

  • The blood of the martyrs is another miracle. Yesterday, Archbishop Oscar Romero was beatified. I have little patience for a certain crowd who was attracted to his story, but I rejoice at the knowledge that he attained Heaven.

    We are always prone to forgetting God. Chesterton wrote that we may still be in Eden, and that it is only our eyes that have changed. He also wrote that the Church always seems to be dying, but was founded by One who could defeat death. The good news is still good, and it is still new. It’s right that we take (at least) one day a year to admire this brand-new 2000-year-old Church.

GK Chesterton on Pentecost

Sunday, June 8, AD 2014

 

Those who maintain that Christianity was not a Church but a moral movement of idealists have been forced to push the period of its perversion or disappearance further and further back. A bishop of Rome writes claiming authority in the very lifetime of St. John the Evangelist; and it is described as the first papal aggression.  A friend of the Apostles writes of them as men he knew and says they taught him the doctrine of the Sacrament, and Mr. Wells can only murmur that the reaction towards barbaric blood-rites may have happened rather earlier than might be expected. The date of the Fourth Gospel, which at one time was steadily growing later and later, is now steadily growing earlier and earlier; until critics are staggered at the dawning and dreadful possibility that it might be something like what it professes to be. The last limit of an early date for the extinction of true Christianity has probably been found by the latest German professor whose authority is invoked by Dean Inge.  This learned scholar says that Pentecost was the occasion for the first founding of an ecclesiastical, dogmatic, and despotic Church utterly alien to the simple ideals of Jesus of Nazareth.  This may be called, in a popular as well as a learned sense, the limit. What do professors of this kind imagine that men are made of? Suppose it were a matter of any merely human movement, let us say that of the conscientious objectors.  Some say the early Christians were Pacifists; I do not believe it for a moment; but I am quite ready to accept the parallel for the sake of the argument. Tolstoy or some great preacher of peace among peasants has been shot as a mutineer for defying conscription; and a little while afterwards his few followers meet together in an upper room in remembrance of him.  They never had any reason for coming together except that common memory; they are men of many kinds with nothing to bind them, except that the greatest event in all their lives was this tragedy of the teacher of universal peace. They are always repeating his words, revolving his problems, trying to imitate his character.  The Pacifists meet at their Pentecost and are possessed of a sudden ecstasy of enthusiasm and wild rush of the whirlwind of inspiration, in the course of which they proceed to establish universal Conscription, to increase the Navy Estimates, to insist on everybody going about armed to the teeth and on all the frontiers bristling with artillery; the proceedings concluded with the singing of ‘Boys of the Bulldog Breed’ and ‘Don’t let them scrap the British Navy.’  That is something like a fair parallel to the theory of these critics; that the transition from their idea of Jesus to their idea of Catholicism could have been made in the little upper room at Pentecost.  Surely anybody’s commonsense would tell him that enthusiasts who only met through their common enthusiasm for a leader whom they loved, would not instantly rush away to establish everything that he hated.  No, if the ‘ecclesiastical and dogmatic system’ is as old as Pentecost it is as old as Christmas.  If we trace it back to such very early Christians we must trace it back to Christ.

GK Chesterton, The Everlasting Man (1925)

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2 Responses to GK Chesterton on Pentecost

  • Bl John Henry Newman was very much of the same mind: “this utter incongruity between Protestantism and historical Christianity is a plain fact, whether the latter be regarded in its earlier or in its later centuries. Protestants can as little bear its Ante-Nicene as its Post-Tridentine period. I have elsewhere observed on this circumstance: “So much must the Protestant grant that, if such a system of doctrine as he would now introduce ever existed in early times, it has been clean swept away as if by a deluge, suddenly, silently, and without memorial; by a deluge coming in a night, and utterly soaking, rotting, heaving up, and hurrying off every vestige of what it found in the Church, before cock-crowing: so that ‘when they rose in the morning’ her true seed ‘were all dead corpses’—Nay dead and buried—and without grave-stone. ‘The waters went over them; there was not one of them left; they sunk like lead in the mighty waters.’ Strange antitype, indeed, to the early fortunes of Israel!—then the enemy was drowned, and ‘Israel saw them dead upon the sea-shore.’ But now, it would seem, water proceeded as a flood ‘out of the serpent’s mouth, and covered all the witnesses, so that not even their dead bodies lay in the streets of the great city.’ Let him take which of his doctrines he will, his peculiar view of self-righteousness, of formality, of superstition; his notion of faith, or of spirituality in religious worship; his denial of the virtue of the sacraments, or of the ministerial commission, or of the visible Church; or his doctrine of the divine efficacy of the Scriptures as the one appointed instrument of religious teaching; and let him consider how far Antiquity, as it has come down to us, will countenance him in it. No; he must allow that the alleged deluge has done its work; yes, and has in turn disappeared itself; it has been swallowed up by the earth, mercilessly as itself was merciless.”

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Pentecost: Why Was the Holy Spirit Sent?

Sunday, May 19, AD 2013

 

 

Saint Thomas Aquinas, in his sermon on Pentecost, explains why the Holy Spirit was sent to us:

I say, first, the Holy Spirit is sent without His needing to be sent. When someone is sent to a place so that an event may happen which could not happen unless he were sent, this would be a sending out of necessity. But this has no place in the sending of the Holy Spirit, whom the Book of Wisdom describes as “having every power, beholding all things” (Wis. 7:23).  What, then, is the reason for the sending of the Holy Spirit? Our neediness; and the necessity of this neediness of ours comes partly from human nature’s dignity, and partly from its deficiency. For the rational creature excels other creatures because it can actually reach the enjoyment of God, which no other earthly creature can do. “The Lord is my portion, said my soul” (Lam. 3:24). Some seek their portion in this world, such as those who seek worldly honor or dignity. But the Psalmist says: “It is good for me to cling to God” (Ps. 72:28).   You should consider that all things that are moved to some end must have something moving them toward that end. Those that are moved to a natural end have a mover in nature; but those that are moved to a supernatural end, namely to the enjoyment of God, must have a supernatural mover. Now, nothing can lead us to our end unless two things are presupposed, for someone is led to an end by two things—knowledge and love. The kind of knowledge in question is supernatural: “No eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it arisen in the heart of man, what God hath prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). “Never have they heard, nor perceived with ears, nor has eye seen, O God, without Thee, what Thou hast prepared for those who await Thee” (Is. 64:4).  Now, whatever a man knows, he knows either by discovering it himself or by learning from another. Vision serves discovery and hearing serves learning, and for this reason it is said that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,” showing that it [the final end] altogether transcends human knowledge. It exceeds human desire, too, and that is why Scripture says: “nor hath it arisen in the heart of man.” How, then, is man led to know it? It was necessary for heavenly secrets to be made known to men; it was necessary for the Holy Spirit to be invisibly sent, in order to move man’s affections so that he may tend toward that end. And thus it says: “Eye hath not seen.” How, then, do we know? “God hath revealed it to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit examineth all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). “Who would be able to know Thy thought [sensum], unless Thou gavest wisdom and sent the Holy Spirit from the Most High?” (Wis. 9:17).  Therefore the Holy Spirit is sent not owing to any need of His, but for the sake of our benefit.

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2 Responses to Pentecost: Why Was the Holy Spirit Sent?

  • Our master the Teacher came humbly in human form into our world with great love to gather and instruct God’s children. He proved to all to be “God among us”, as the Spirit had named him at the time of His conception, through the “works” he preformed. And thus God revealed He could be human…. for our sake.
    Now, the Spirit of Love at Pentecost comes to the disciples, and through them, to all humanity to give us the strength and courage to go forth in His name accepting the challenge to do “God’s work” on earth…. for His sake.

  • “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they May be one, as we are one, (23) I in them and you in me, that They May Be Brought To Perfection As One, that the world May know That You Sent Me, AND THAT YOU LOVED THEM EVEN AS YOU LOVED ME.”

    Is this not the workings of the Holy Spirit?
    The the world May Know Jesus & know the Father sent Him….and that They love us.
    A call to love.

Saint Augustine on Pentecost

Sunday, May 27, AD 2012

I. The Coming of the Holy Ghost with the Gift of Tongues foretells the Unity of the Church throughout all peoples.

This is a solemn day for us, because of the Coming of the Holy Ghost; the fiftieth day from the Lord’s Resurrection, seven days multiplied by seven. But multiplying seven by seven we have forty-nine. One is then added: that we may be reminded of unity.

What is the meaning of the Coming of the Holy Ghost? What did it accomplish? How did He tell us of His Presence; reveal It to us? By the fact that all spoke in the tongues of every nation. There were a hundred and twenty people gathered in one room; ten times twelve. The sacred number of the Apostles was multiplied ten times. What then, did each one upon whom the Holy Spirit descended speak in one of the tongues of each of the nations: to this man one language, to this man another, dividing as it were among themselves the tongues of all the nations? No, it was not so: but each man, singly, spoke in the tongue of every nation. One and the same man spoke the tongue of every nation: the unity of the Church amid the tongues of all the nations. See here how the unity of the Catholic Church spread throughout all nations is set before us.
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One Response to Saint Augustine on Pentecost

  • Simply beautiful. Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the Faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your Love. Send for Your Spirit and they shall be created and You shall renew the face of the earth. AMEN

Saint Augustine on Pentecost

Sunday, June 12, AD 2011

 

This is a solemn day for us, because of the Coming of the Holy Ghost on the fiftieth day from the Lord’s Resurrection.

What is the meaning of the Coming of the Holy Ghost?  What did it accomplish?  How did He tell us of His Presence; reveal It to us?  By the fact that all spoke in the tongues of every nation.  What then, did each one upon whom the Holy Spirit descended speak in one of the tongues of each of the nations: to this man one language, to this man another, dividing as it were among themselves the tongues of all the nations?  

No, it was not so: but each man, singly, spoke in the tongue of every nation. One and the same man spoke the tongue of every nation: the unity of the Church amid the tongues of all the nations.  See here how the unity of the Catholic Church spread throughout all nations is set before us.

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One Response to Saint Augustine on Pentecost

  • I hadn’t known until the other day that those who ‘speak in tongues’ should be speaking in a known language – there is a priest who goes into speaking in tongues during the consecration at Mass…an unintelligible sound like: “bananabananabananabanana!” – it always made me uneasy – especially during the consecration. Someone told me then that this is not permitted and that when one speaks in tongues there should be an interpretator…I’m not sure of these things.

Pope Benedict on Pentecost

Sunday, May 23, AD 2010

Homily given by Pope Benedict on Pentecost Sunday on May 15, 2005:

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Ordinandi,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The First Reading and the Gospel of Pentecost Sunday offer us two great images of the mission of the Holy Spirit. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles speaks of how, on the day of Pentecost, under the signs of a strong wind and fire, the Holy Spirit sweeps into the community of the disciples of Jesus who are in prayer, thus bringing the Church into being.

For Israel, Pentecost – celebration of the harvest – had become the celebration marking the conclusion of the Covenant on Mt Sinai. In wind and fire, God made his presence known to the people and then gave them the gift of his Law, the Ten Commandments. In this singular way was the work of liberation, begun with the Exodus from Egypt, brought to fulfilment: human freedom is always a shared freedom, a “togetherness” of liberty. Common freedom lasts only in an ordered harmony of freedom that reveals to each person his or her limits.

In this way the gift of the Law on Mt Sinai was not a restriction nor an abolition of freedom, but the foundation of true liberty. And since a correct human ordering finds stability only if it comes from God and if it unites men and women in the perspective of God, the Commandments that God himself gives us cannot be lacking in a correct ordering of human freedom.

In this way, Israel fully became a people, through the Covenant with God on Mt Sinai. Israel’s encounter with God on Sinai could be considered to be the foundation and the guarantee of its existence as a people. The wind and fire, which enveloped the community of Christ’s disciples gathered in the Upper Room, becomes a further development of the event of Mt Sinai and gives it new fullness.

They were gathered in Jerusalem on that day, according to what is written in the Acts of the Apostles: “devout Jews of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2: 5). Here is made manifest the characteristic gift of the Holy Spirit: all understood the words of the Apostles: “each one heard these men speaking his own language” (Acts 2: 6). The Holy Spirit gives understanding.

Overcoming the “breach” begun in Babel – the confusion of hearts, putting us one against the other – the Spirit opens borders.

The People of God who found its first configuration on Mt Sinai, now becomes enlarged to the point of recognizing no limitations. The new People of God, the Church, is a people that derives from all peoples. The Church is catholic from her beginning and this is her deepest essence.

St Paul explains and underlines this in the Second Reading when he says: “It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit” (I Cor 12: 13).

The Church must always become anew what she already is; she must open the borders between peoples and break down the barriers between class and race. In her, there cannot be those who are forgotten or looked down upon. In the Church there are only free brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. The wind and fire of the Holy Spirit must continually break down those barriers that we men and women continue to build between us; we must continually pass from Babel – being closed in on ourselves – to Pentecost.

Thus, we must continually pray that the Holy Spirit opens us and gives us the grace of understanding, so that we become the People of God deriving from all peoples. St Paul tells us more along these lines: in Christ, who as the one Bread feeds all of us in the Eucharist and draws us to him in his Body wracked on the Cross, we must become only one body and one spirit.

The second image of the sending of the Spirit that we find in the Gospel is much more hidden. Exactly in this way, however, all of the greatness of the Pentecost event is perceived. The Risen Lord passes through the closed doors and enters the place where the disciples are, and greets them twice with the words: “Peace be with you”.

We continually close our doors; we continually want to feel secure and do not want to be disturbed by others and by God. And so, we can continually implore the Lord just for this, that he come to us, overcoming our closure, to bring us his greeting: “Peace be with you”.

This greeting of the Lord is a bridge that he builds between heaven and earth. He descends to this bridge, reaching us, and we can climb up on this bridge of peace to reach him. On this bridge, always together with him, we too must reach our neighbour, reach the one who needs us. It is in lowering ourselves, together with Christ, that we rise up to him and up to God. God is Love, and so the descent, the lowering that love demands of us, is at the same time the true ascent. Exactly in this way, lowering ourselves, coming out of ourselves, we reach the dignity of Jesus Christ, the human being’s true dignity.

The Lord’s greeting of peace is followed by two gestures that are decisive for Pentecost: the Lord wants the disciples to continue his mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20: 21).

After this, he breathes on them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound” (Jn 20: 23). The Lord breathes on the disciples, giving them the Holy Spirit, his own Spirit. The breath of Jesus is the Holy Spirit.

We recognize here, in the first place, an allusion made to the story of creation in the Book of Genesis, where it is written: “The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life” (Gn 2: 7). Man is this mysterious creature who comes entirely from the earth, but in whom has been placed the breath of God. Jesus breathes on the Apostles and gives them the breath of God in a new and greater way.

In people, notwithstanding all of their limitations, there is now something absolutely new: the breath of God. The life of God lives in us. The breath of his love, of his truth and of his goodness. In this way we can see here too an allusion to Baptism and Confirmation, this new belonging to God that the Lord gives to us. The Gospel Reading invites us to this: to live always within the breath of Jesus Christ, receiving life from him, so that he may inspire in us authentic life, the life that no death may ever take away.

To his breath, to the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord joins the power of forgiveness. We heard earlier that the Holy Spirit unites, breaks down barriers, leads us one to the other. The strength that opens up and overcomes Babel is the strength of forgiveness.

Jesus can grant forgiveness and the power to forgive because he himself suffered the consequences of sin and dispelled them in the flame of his love. Forgiveness comes from the Cross; he transforms the world with the love that is offered. His heart opened on the Cross is the door through which the grace of forgiveness enters into the world. And this grace alone is able to transform the world and build peace.

If we compare the two events of Pentecost – the strong wind of the 50th day and the gentle breath of Jesus on the evening of Easter – we might think about this contrast between the two episodes that took place on Mt Sinai, spoken of in the Old Testament.

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One Response to Pope Benedict on Pentecost

  • In the Regina Caeli that day, the pope explained a little about his message to the newly ordained priests (“Dear Ordinandi…”) towards the end of the homily:

    “Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    “I ask you above all to excuse me for my great lateness! I had the honour of being able to ordain today, the day of the Holy Spirit, 21 new priests for the Diocese of Rome. And such a harvest of God naturally takes a bit of time! Thank you for your understanding!

    “A little while ago this Eucharistic Celebration concluded, during which I had the joy of ordaining 21 new priests. It is an event that signifies a moment of important growth for our Community. In fact, from ordained ministers one receives life, above all through the service of the Word of God and of the Sacraments.

    “This, therefore, is a day of celebration for the Church of Rome. And for the new priests, this is in a special way their Pentecost: I renew my greeting to them and pray that the Holy Spirit accompanies them always in their ministry. Let us thank God for the gift of new priests, and let us pray that in Rome as well as in the entire world numerous and holy priestly vocations blossom and come to maturity. …”

    He finished by asking for the intercession of Mary:
    “We entrust this hope to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who today we contemplate in the glorious mystery of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, who at Nazareth descended upon her to make her the Mother of the Word Incarnate (cf. Lk 1: 35), descended today on the nascent Church joined together around her in the Upper Room (cf. Acts 1: 14). We invoke with trust Mary Most Holy, in order to obtain a renewed outpouring of the Spirit on the Church in our days.”

    http://tinyurl.com/2993bt9