Two weekends ago we began to have Mass open to the public for the first time in over two months. I wouldn’t say that it was the most normal of circumstances for several reasons. We have to practice social distancing and be limited to 25% capacity. And judging by the numbers, people are still hesitant to interact in large groups. We also have to wear masks during Mass. It might not be the most normal of circumstances, but it was great celebrating Mass with parishioners again!
Today is Pentecost, the day of the great gathering and the day of the great sending out. And it is our Parish Feast Day. It is very different this year. Normally, we would have international feast to celebrate this joyous day. However, due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, we will have to postpone this to a future date TBD.
What was the setting of the first Pentecost? When Jesus died the disciples were shattered. Their lives had collapsed. They sat there dazed and despondent in the upper room. They had forgotten that Jesus had said, “It is better for you that I go away… if I go away, I will send another Helper to you.” Jesus came among us and offered his life so that when raised to the right hand of the Father he could send the Holy Spirit. Remember, on his Resurrection day his first act was to breathe on his disciples and gave them the Spirit.
What about us? Each of us has been baptized in the Holy Spirit. But it is not enough just to know this. We must experience it. The Holy Spirit is God’s Love and the Source of God’s power. He is in you and in me. This fact should become a dynamic reality. As he changed disciples from being fearful and despondent into being people of great wisdom, knowledge and courage, so he must change us.
How is this to come about? After Ascension the disciples with Mary the Mother of Jesus spent their time in earnest prayer. If we want to have the experience of the Spirit in our lives, we need to pray for him daily. Each day we need to be anointed by him. Daily we need to grow in our capacity to receive him.
We are the disciples of this generation and we need to be filled again and again as were the first disciples. (Acts 4: 23 ff). It is the longing to receive the Spirit and the desire for the Spirit to recreate us that will bring about miracles in our lives. The Father longs for the Spirit to come into our lives with power: “how much more will the Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11: 13).
What happens then? When the Holy Spirit comes into a person and into a family, great things happen. First, they experience the fruits of the Spirit coming: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, humility, gentleness, self-control.
There will be more fruits too: Compassion for one another, meekness, bearing with one another and forgiving one another and harmonious living together. They will have a great love for the Word of God and will pray with gratitude. Through the Holy Spirit we can overcome every kind of sin and addiction. This is not by our own efforts, but because the Holy Spirit is within us. The difference between a person with the Spirit and without is the difference between mid-day and mid-night.
Where do you stand? Why not surrender to the Spirit now and invite him earnestly into your life? Spend time in prayer for him daily. Then you will experience the new life.
Do you believe that your happiness is in your hands?