Pentecost Sunday – … “Receive the Holy Spirit”…

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rm 5:5)

 

Each Sunday, during the Eucharistic celebration, we confess our faith in the words of the Creed.

What do we profess about the Holy Spirit?

“I believe on the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets”.

The Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, is the first Gift the believers received in the day of Pentecost, after Jesus had ascended to heaven.

Pentecost is regarded as the birth of the Church, which is baptised and sent all over the world to announce the Risen Lord, call to conversion and forgive sins.

“As the Father sent me, so am I sending you” (Jn 20:21).

Who is the Holy Spirit?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church helps us to find out something more about Him:

“The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God. Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. […] When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him” (CCC 689)

After the Last Supper Jesus told his disciples that, as soon as the Holy Spirit had been sent in their hearts, they would have been aware of his holy presence:

“I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete, to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept, since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you” (Jn 14: 16-17)

How can we recognise the presence of the Holy Spirit in us?

How does the Holy Spirit work in our life?

The Holy Scripture is full of the signs of the Holy Spirit, from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation.

God’s Holy Spirit was already present, before the beginning of times, sweeping over the waters (Gen 1:2); He led the people of Israel from the Egyptian slavery to the freedom of the promised land, “by day in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light” (Ex 13:22; cfr. Ex 40: 36-38); He rested on Mount Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments; He spoke through the Prophets; John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (cfr. Lk 1:15).

In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfilled the plan of the Father’s loving goodness: through the Spirit, she conceived and gave birth to the Son of God (CCC 723).

The Holy Spirit accompanied the Lord’s mission from his baptism in the river Jordan on.

Jesus had promised his disciples to send the “Spirit of truth”, and after He was glorified He appeared to them and breathed the Holy Spirit on them (Jn 20:19-23).

St Cyril of Jerusalem depicts the Third Person of the Holy Trinity in a sublime way:

“His approach is gentle, his presence fragrant, his joke very light; rays of light and knowledge shine forth before him as He comes. He comes with the heart of a true protector; He comes to save, to heal, to teach, to admonish, to strengthen, to console, to enlighten the mind.”

While St Basil the Great uses the metaphor of the sunrays:

“Even as bright and shining bodies, once touched by a ray of light falling on them, become even more glorious and themselves cast another light, so too souls that carry the Spirit, and are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and send forth grace upon others”.

 

We are these bodies, shining of God’s light! As members of the body of Christ, we join the prayer of the Church in this ancient and beautiful “Sequence of the Holy Spirit”:

Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height,
Thy pure beaming radiance give:

Come, thou Father of the poor
Come, with treasures which endure,
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest
Dost refreshing peace bestow:

Thou in toil our comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit Thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

If Thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on those who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.

Amen

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter – the Holy Spirit and the circle of Love

 

Readings:

  • First reading: Acts 8:5-8.14-17
  • Psalm: 65 “Cry out with joy to God all the earth”
  • Second reading: 1Pt 3:15-18
  • Gospel: Jn 14:15-21

 

“I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever” (Jn 14:16)

Today’s Gospel reading is a part of the Lord’s farewell discourses that took place after the last supper. Jesus starts and ends up his speech speaking about the commandments He left to his disciples.

“If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15); and “Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him” (Jn 14:21).

These words seem to draw a “circle” that contains the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And we are invited to join this circularity of Love: the Father in the Son, the Son in us and we in Him, and the Holy Spirit, who remains with us for ever.

Our human mind struggles to understand this “circle”, it is something that “slips from our grasp”. But, at the meantime, it sounds like an invitation to go more deeply into the fascinating mystery of the Holy Trinity.

“Oh, eternal Trinity, You are a deep Sea, into which the deeper I enter the more I find, and the more I find the more I seek; the soul cannot be satiated in Your abyss, for she continually hungers after You, the eternal Trinity, desiring to see You with light in Your Light” (St Catherine of Siena).

Which commandment does Jesus leave to his disciples? “This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15: 12-13)

He loved us with a boundless love, laying down his life for each of us.

And He calls us to do the same: by this we will know if we truly love Him and if we really are his disciples.

But how can we manage to love so much? Certainly not by our own efforts.

It is the divine Love we have received that teaches us how to love!

“Christ’s love is a compelling motive” (2 Cor 5:14).

This compelling love, that moves us inwardly, is the Holy Spirit. We are temple of the Holy Spirit, by virtue of our baptism. And Jesus promised that He will pray the Heavenly Father to send the “Paraclete” (“advocate” or “defence lawyer”) to be with us for ever.

How does the Paraclete work in our lives? He is the One who guards us in our spiritual and daily battles. He is the Spirit of Truth. He upholds our cause in the Father’s court, where He defends us from the accusations of Satan, the prince of lies (cf. Zec 3:1; Jb 1:3)

As the Feast of Pentecost draws near, let us join the prayer of the Church that, in Christ, asks for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Holy Spirit, the Paraclete,
Come and dwell in me.
Promise of the Father, Gift of the Son,
Kindle in us the fire of your Love,
So that we can love our brethren unconditionally
Send me to inflame the earth.
Use me as You wish.
                                         Amen.

Fifth Sunday of Easter – … “Do not let your hearts be troubled”

Readings:

  • First reading: Acts 6:1-7
  • Psalm: Ps 32 – May your love be upon us, o Lord, as we place all our hope in you
  • Second reading: Pt 2:4-9

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house. […] I am now going to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too”. (Jn 14: 1-3)

There is a room, a place for me in heaven. There is a place for you.

There is room for the poor and the rich alike, for who is forgotten or forlorn, for the drunk and the drug-addicted… even for those who do evil, even for the murderer.

All those who have turned their back to God have still a place preserved for them in heaven. God’s Mercy is amazing! The only thing to do is to repent and ask forgiveness, to change life and return to God with all the heart. Sometimes it is not so easy. But we have the chance to do so, and his grace will help us. God leaves us free to decide whether to choose Him or not, whether to take our place in heaven or to refuse it.

As a couple, who is expecting, arrange a nice and cheery room for their child, so the Father has prepared us a place in his House, through his Son Jesus Christ.

And Jesus has worked on it with love. With all his love, with all his life indeed: through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross.

“I have ardently longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Lk 22:14) – said the Master to his disciples during the last supper, on the night He was betrayed.

Our Lord’s desire to save us is far greater than our own wish to be saved.

He longed so ardently to bring us all in the Kingdom of Heaven, that He willingly underwent extreme suffering and death.

“I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too” (Jn 14:3)

These words show clearly the Lord’s loving concern for us.

He will accomplish what He has promised.

May you believe with all you heart that these words of Jesus are addressed to you.

How does heaven look like?

“What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualise; all that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

Our own eyes will see heaven one day.

Shall we let our place remain empty?

Shall we exclude ourselves from eternal joy, from the beatific vision of God?

 

Dear Lord,

thank you for having prepared a place for me in your Kingdom.

Thank you because it means that I have a place in your heart as well.

Help me to live my daily life keeping my eyes fixed on You,

Looking forward to the joy of seeing You face to face.

Do not let my sin, nor my own will, separate me from You,

Now and forever.

Amen.