Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pentecost: The activity of every Christian community

The Descent of the Holy Spirit in a 15th centu...

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VATICAN - AVE MARIA: Mgr. Luciano Alimandi -

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Saint Cyril, in his teaching, with regard to the working of the Holy Spirit in the souls of believers who welcome Him: "Meek and gentle is his coming, fragrant and sweet his presence, light his yoke. His arrival is preceded by splendid rays of light and of knowledge. He comes as a brother and as a defender. He comes in fact to save, to heal, to teach, the exhort, to strengthen and to console. First he illuminates the mind of the receiver then, through this person, the minds of others. Like when a person is in the dark and then, when the sun suddenly appears, the person receives light in is bodily eye and what before he could not see, he now sees clearly. So too, he who is judged worthy of the gift of the Holy Spirit, is illuminated in the soul and, lifted above man, sees things of which before he had no knowledge" (From the Teachings of St Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop).

The great solemnity of Pentecost concludes the Season of Easter. Every day is an occasion to encounter the Risen Lord, especially when we live with faith the daily celebration of Mass and we adore Him in present and living in the Eucharist. Like the disciples at Emmaus we too "recognize Him in the breaking of the bread " (cfr. Lk 24, 31), thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

The Holy Spirit, as St Basil says, "manifests himself only to those who are worthy. Although he does not give himself to all in equal measure, but only in relation to the intensity of the faith " (Saint Basil the Great, Treatise on the Holy Spirit). The more we believe in Jesus the more the Spirit takes possession of our lives, inspires our thoughts, pushes us with love to take action. Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing supernatural, we cannot even pray, since only He can lift the mind and the heart to God.

Everything authentic in the life of the Church, in each individual soul, can be traced to the working of the Spirit. A soul can do nothing good in the name of Jesus without the assistance of the Holy Spirit. We might apply to the Holy Spirit, what Jesus said to his disciple: "without me you can do nothing " (Jn 15, 5). Perhaps we fail to reflect enough on the necessity of the Holy Spirit for Christian life. Perhaps we only remember him at certain times, when really we should invoke him throughout the day, like children seeking the closeness of parents in order to feel reassured by their presence. For children who are close to their parents nothing is impossible because they know they are in safe hands.
Very often we hear a child say confidently: My dad is the strongest! My mum is the best! We too must learn from children and become like them in order to 'enter the kingdom' of the Holy Spirit. We should nourish in our heart profound respect and deep devotion for the Holy Spirit, so that we turn to him spontaneously, with the trust of a child who feels totally safe in the hands of his parents. In the well known sequence of Pentecost, do we not invoke the Holy Spirit as "Father"? "Come, Father of the poor, come, Giver of gifts, come, Light of hearts"! Are we not all so poor, even though we are rich in ourselves, that we have immense need of the Spirit?

To help his disciples realize the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, the Lord Jesus uses these powerful words: "it is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you" (Jn 16, 7).

Certainly it was only after Pentecost that the Apostles fully understood the Lord's words; before they could never have imagined the courage of witness that the Holy Spirit infuses in a soul which opens to Him in faith in Jesus. Pentecost marked the beginning of the great witness of the first Christian community, gathered in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room (cfr. Acts 1, 14). The Lord Jesus, before ascending into heaven, promised he would send his disciples "power from on high", on the condition that they stayed in the town: "And now I am sending upon you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city, then, until you are clothed with the power from on high." (Lk 24, 49).

The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, stressing the importance of this "being together" (cfr. Acts 1, 4-5) as Jesus requested of his disciples in order to prepare for the coming of the Spirit, said: "To stay together was the condition laid down by Jesus in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; the premise of their harmony was prolonged prayer. In this way we are offered a formidable lesson for every Christian community. Some think at times that missionary effectiveness depends primarily on careful programming and its subsequent intelligent application through a concrete commitment. The Lord certainly does ask for our collaboration, but before any other response his initiative is necessary: his Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church. The roots of our being and of our action are in the wise and provident silence of God." (Benedict XVI, homily on Pentecost Sunday, 4 June 2006).

Celebrating Pentecost in our communities, as the Lord demands, united with the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us open our hearts and minds, and pray together for the coming of the Holy Spirit, consecrating our life to his almighty Love.

(Agenzia Fides 27/5/2009; righe 64, parole 947)