A stained glass window at St. Mary Church in Luxemburg, Wis., depicts the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles at Pentecost. OSV News photo/Sam Lucero

Let Pentecost awaken the Holy Spirit’s fire

By  Fr. Yaw Acheampong
  • May 25, 2023

Jesus said to His disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever” (John 14:15).

The above quotation was the beginning of the Gospel reading for the Mass on the Sixth Sunday of Easter. The Gospel reading (John 14:15-21) drew our attention to one of the tenets of the Christian faith: the presence of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit. We read about Jesus’ promise to send another Advocate to be with the disciples forever. The word “advocate” means a counsellor — someone called to another’s aid.  Jesus referred to the Advocate as the Holy Spirit “that the Father will send in my name to teach you everything and remind you all that I have said to you” (John 14:25).

On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. In the Vatican Council II document “Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity” (Ad Gentes Divinitus), we read, “The Holy Spirit gives to the whole Church at all times unity in communion and ministry. He endows it with a diversity of gifts, hierarchical and charismatic; He gives life to its institutions, becoming as it were their soul, and instills into the hearts of the faithful the very missionary spirit that was the driving force in Christ Himself” (4).

On Pentecost, the three readings (Acts 2: 1-11, 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13, Gospel of John 20:19-23) echo the message of this document. The description of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s activities in the Church depict the divine power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guided the activities of the Church in carrying on Jesus’ mission of proclaiming the Good News. The Holy Spirit enlightened the early disciples to bring God’s love and mercy into the world.

The Bible and the Church teach that the Holy Spirit is associated with baptism. God saved us “through baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5) —  for in the one Spirit “we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12: 13). By virtue of our baptism we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).

So, how would we describe our experiences of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives?  The celebration of Pentecost emphasizes the importance of the Holy Spirit to service. In his book The Church of Mercy, Pope Francis writes, “The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drives us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in ourselves, on our group or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?”

Pope Francis’ message is one for us to reflect upon on this Pentecost Sunday. When we strive to surrender ourselves to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the Holy Spirit opens us to missionary activities. On Pentecost, as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the first disciples, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit came with different gifts.

As baptized people, we are invited to examine the ways in which we can use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to serve. Our service to others can be a way in which we can experience the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It can be a way of seeing the Holy Spirit active in our communities. Through our participation in a variety of activities, the Holy Spirit continues to guide us in the missionary activities in our communities. Even during the pandemic, we could have experienced the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we have continued to share our gifts by participating in any of the various ministries in our parishes: preparing children to celebrate the sacraments and reaching out to those in need in our communities.

God sent the Holy Spirit in the name of His Son because of God’s love for us. Living in the Holy Spirit reflects our love for God and others. Today, let us ask God to awaken in us the fire of the Holy Spirit so that we may all live as people united in one Holy Spirit and in one love.

(Fr. Yaw Acheampong is pastor of Our Lady of Peace in Etobicoke.)