By Lynne Keating
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free ~ Luke 14:18
I didn’t realize that I had agreed to write this post for the Feast of Pentecost. The date was open, so I decided to take it — mainly because May 23rd seems to be one of those dates that keeps popping up in my life as special somehow. It makes sense now because I’ve always felt a very strong devotion to the Holy Spirit and a real excitement regarding Pentecost.
I discovered that, as an infant, I received the Sacrament of Baptism on May 23rd. It is at Baptism, says Rev. Rainero Cantalmessa (preacher to our most recent three popes), that we first receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that these gifts are increased and ignited at our Confirmation. Years later, it was on a Pentecost Sunday that my little prayer group prayed for me to receive the gift known as Baptism in the Holy Spirit. And today, my greatest joy is preparing students and sponsors for the Sacrament of Confirmation. It seems I’ve had a love affair with the Holy Spirit most of my life.
Pentecost, honored in the Third of the Glorious Mysteries, is known as the “Birthday of Church.” Without the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles wouldn’t have had the courage to declare themselves Christian. I can definitely relate to that lack of courage.
It is incredible to me that we experience the same life-changing transformation as the disciples at Pentecost when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Like the first perplexed and anxious followers of Christ, we receive an outpouring of fortitude and wisdom through the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit and all of His gifts — everything that we need to be courageous when making choices that announce to the world that we follow Jesus!
My favorite description of the Holy Spirt is from the Bible Dictionary section of an old Saint Joseph’s Edition Bible, under the word “Elohim.” It reads, “Ordinary word for God. The plural of majesty. Ordinarily designates God in His action on the world.”
When Satan refused to receive the fullness of his identity from God, he rejected these wonderful gifts. He might have great intellect, but what is intelligence without wisdom? Without Understanding? Without Knowledge and Counsel? What good is it to gain the world but lose your true identity in the process? How can anyone become great if he does not first become good?
So, I ask myself, who am I to be afraid to follow the Lord in the face of adversity or trials?
How about you?
Isn’t it time to place ALL your trust in God, who gives you incredible, ever-increasing gifts? Could there be a better time to stand courageously, as Christ did in the synagogue, and acknowledge the working of the Holy Spirit within you? Personally, I’m asking for the grace to allow His gifts to be manifest in my life so that I can live each day with expectant faith in “His action on the world!”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to proclaim release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to set free those who are restrained!” (a paraphrase of Luke 4:18)
Call to Action
Starting today, remember this prayer – the words of Jesus, as He stood before the scribes and elders, acknowledging the work of the Holy Spirit in His life. Now go and do the same!
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