Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday! It's Pentecost

Today is the birthday of the Catholic Church.  Fifty days ago we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, in which he overcame death and sin and opened the gates of heaven to mankind.  Ten days ago we celebrated the ascension of our Lord into heaven, in which he rose to heaven with his resurrected body to sit at the right hand of the Father.  But before he left us, he said, "And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever, The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you."  (John 14:16-17). 

The Holy Spirit, Third Person
of the Trinity, descends upon the
Blessed Mother and Apostles
As we say in the Nicene Creed, "And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets."  This sentence is packed with so much meaning. "The Lord and Giver of Life".  The Holy Spirit is the one who conceived Jesus Christ in the Blessed Virgin Mary and brought Jesus Christ into the world, and yet at the same time, the Holy Spirit proceeds from and is given to us by both the Father and the Son.  It is a great mystery which my small, infinite human mind cannot begin to comprehend.  We are told that the Holy Spirit is to be worshipped and glorified.  Since worship belongs only to God, this means the Holy Spirit is God just as much God as the Father and Son are God.  This member of the Trinity is the very One who descended upon the Blessed Mother and the Apostles in the Cenacle on that first Pentecost, transforming the Apostles from weak, timid men to courageous and powerful men, standing up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and unafraid of any man.

The Holy Spirit never leaves us but is always
guiding, comforting and protecting us
The Holy Spirit is the great gift given to us by the Father and the Son to walk with us in our Christian lives, guiding us and comforting us, and as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:26, "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."  When we go before the great God, we are like babbling babies, completely unable to express ourselves, but the Holy Spirit intervenes and interprets our prayers to the Father.  Satan accuses us before God day and night (Rev. 12:10), but the Holy Spirit is our advocate on our behalf, which is the meaning of the word "Paraclete" used in John 14:16.  The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is our defense attorney before the Father. 

Jesus pouring himself out on the cross for us

Philippians 2:6-8 tells us that Jesus "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery, to be himself equal to God: But debased himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in shape found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Jesus took on the form of man, completely humbling himself. He then took on the sin of all mankind and spilled his blood to save us from sin. While dying on the cross, our Lord gave us his very own beloved Mother to be our Mother, to intercede for us before His throne in heaven. On that first Pentecost, which we celebrate today, he sent a member of the Godhead to be our advocate, guide and comforter and even interpret our weak and ineffectual prayers before the Father. Jesus has left nothing back from us but has done everything possible to bring us to salvation and eternal life with him in heaven.

Pentecost is a day of great celebration.  Although Jesus has left us and gone in his glorified body to sit at the right hand of the Father, he and the Father have sent the Holy Spirit so that we are never alone, never without a guide and protector and advocate.  All we need to do is follow the example of Jesus' most beloved Mother, and say "Be it done to me according to thy word". 

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