50 Days after the Lord's Resurrection
Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

Jeremiah R. Grosse
Reproduced with Permission

The Feast of Pentecost predates the birth of the Church, but the significance in Judaism is very different from our celebration. In Judaism, Pentecost is an agricultural festival which is celebrated fifty days after Passover. It is on this day that the first fruits of the harvest would be brought to the Temple as an offering to God.

While there is no historic connection between the Jewish feast of Pentecost and today’s feast, the fact is that it was on this day that the Church experienced the “first fruits” of the Spirit when He entered the Upper Room preceded by a sound like a strong driving wind and came to rest upon all those present as tongues of fire.

Why did the Holy Spirit appear as tongues of fire? Fire purifies, fire cleanses, and fire brings new growth. It is the fire of God’s love which purifies the human heart, cleanses our conscience, and brings new spiritual growth to our lives.

The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, gives us Wisdom to direct our lives and the desire to be pleasing to God in all that we do. He gives us Understanding to enable us to know more clearly the mysteries of faith. He gives us Counsel to guide us away from the inclinations of the Devil and to remain steadfast in our faith. He gives us Fortitude in order to strengthen us to carry out God’s will in our lives. He gives us Knowledge so that we might discern the things of God and know His will for us. He gives us Piety so that

we might love God above all things. He also gives us Fear of the Lord that we might turn away from evil and avoid offending God through our sinful actions.

Our Lord Jesus promised that He would not leave us orphans and He remained faithful to that promise by sending us the Holy Spirit to be with us on our earthly journey.

To be able, to whatever extent, to reflect upon God’s love for us is one of the joys of Christian contemplation. The very essence of the expression of God’s love was the incarnation. We, as Christians, received a pure gift from God when we were given the

gift of faith. All too often, we take for granted the fact that the God who pre-exists time and space, came down from Heaven and took on our very nature for the sole reason of saving us from sin and death. This fact should be an enormous source of hope for

people drawn to despair. It was not merely that God rose up a great and gifted man from among His creatures to be our Redeemer, it was God Himself! By virtue of our baptism we died and were buried with Christ in order that we might live with Him in glory. If we never give up on our upward journey and never lose hope we can win the prize of eternal life in Heaven. St. Benedict admonishes his monks to “never lose hope in God’s mercy.”

St. Teresa of Avila once said, “If I committed every sin known to man at the same time it would be but a drop of water in the furnace of God’s redeeming love.” This should be a tremendous source of consolation for us. How much more can God do for us that He has not already done?

The sacramental life of the Church has changed numerous lives. Not long after I was ordained, I was asked to hear confessions for a women’s retreat group in Indiana. One of the women who came to me stated that she had not received the sacrament in over twenty

years and she began to bear her soul to me. By the time she received absolution I could see the transformation which she had undergone. I told her, “Regardless of what has kept you away from the sacrament all these years, welcome home!” Before she left she said, “I should have done this years ago. I’m glad I’m back!” This is the power of God transforming the life of another one His children.

As we go forth from this Eucharistic celebration this morning, let us share the graces and blessings we have received with those we will meet so that their lives may be transformed as well. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are meant to be shared with others and there is no danger that by sharing those gifts they shall be diminished in us. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The more we share our gifts, the more they increase.