The Gift of the Holy Spirit
Today is Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the unique event of the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles and disciples in Jerusalem. They were filled with the Holy Spirit as He descended on them in tongues as of fire. Normally we celebrate this day with a big Parish Mass and much festivity, so I hope you are celebrating well in your homes. Pentecost also marks the completion of Easter and so the Paschal Candle will be removed from the Sanctuary.
St Paul says in today’s Second Reading, “No one can say ‘JESUS is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). This is true because faith is a gift of grace and the Holy Spirit moves our hearts and our wills to accept the truth of who JESUS is. In Baptism and the other Sacraments we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and Sanctifying Grace into our souls which is ordered to our becoming holy. But the Holy Spirit also operates in another way so as we help other people on the path to salvation. For example in today’s First Reading the Apostles had the gift of tongues in which all their listeners heard them speaking in their own language so as they could be converted to the True Faith, and as a result 3,000 were baptised that day!
It could well be that the Holy Spirit wants to use you to touch the heart of someone who might otherwise be lost forever. Perhaps through your compassion or kindness God will heal somebody who is truly suffering. A few words of sound advice to a young person might help them find their true vocation in life. Or maybe our courage to stand up for our Faith will encourage someone else to play some major role in society or in the Church.
When the Polish Pope St John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) was a young man, there was a mystic by the name of Jan Tyranowski living in his parish in Krakow, Poland. Following the arrest by the Nazis of many Polish priests, Tyranowski (a layman) was asked to found a group for the young people called the Living Rosary. At first he objected because he had no skills in dealing with young people and was not a good speaker, but the priest told him not to worry and that Our Lord would guide him. Many thought Tyranowski a little odd because he had a strange appearnace, a high-pitched voice and a rather intense manner. But nevertheless, he had a huge influence and led many of this group of over a hundred to a much closer relationship with Christ. He had a great concern for all of them and began to direct some of them individually including Karol Wojtyla with whom he became good friends. Wojtyla, at the time, wanted to be an actor. Well, eleven of them became priests and one of them a Pope and a canonised Saint. As Pope, Wojtyla was one of the most influential figures of the Twentieth Century. He had a massive influence on the Church and the world and played a vital role in the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Fr Mieczyslaw Malinski, one of the eleven who also became a priest said, “I can safely say that if it wasn’t for Tyranowski, neither Wojtyla nor I would have become priests. If I hadn’t become a priest, perhaps it wouldn’t have made so much difference, but if Wojtyla hadn’t become a priest…!”
The Holy Spirit can work wonders through us if we allow Him. We might be a link in an important chain. All we need to do is spend some time in prayer with Him each day asking Him to guide us and work through us. We can’t do anything on our own but we can do much through His power. This is the good news of Pentecost. Veni Sancte Spiritus!
Fr Paul Gillham, IC