Jesus calls us: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20,19-23)Cooperating with the gifts of the Holy Spirit presupposes our peace in the heart
“There is a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We already know this truth from the Old Testament. The feast of Pentecost – the sending of the Holy Spirit is a challenge for us to cooperate more and more actively with the gifts and graces that God gives us through the Holy Spirit. Another school year will end soon. A year ago I heard about a boy who, when he went home with his report card, said to his friend: “One more beating and it’s vacation.” I believe that no boy thinks like that anymore. Today is the time for each of us to adequately hear, accept and internalize the words of the Lord Jesus:
“Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22).
Every year, Pentecost allows reflecting on ourselves and discovering the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a strong but discreet and silent presence. When John the Baptist was preparing his contemporaries for the coming of the Lord Jesus, he said: “He stands among you whom you do not know” (Jn 1:26). We can say the same about the Holy Spirit, that he is among us, even in us, whom we do not know.
The Lord Jesus prepared the disciples that he would send them his Spirit, who would remind them and teach them everything, and the Spirit would continue the work he had started (cf. Jn 14, 16-17). After his resurrection, before he ascended to heaven, he again reminds them of the promise of the Holy Spirit: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:22).
The Holy Spirit is above all the spiritual “presence” of the resurrected Jesus in the Church. His “spiritual” presence is not historical, measured in time, but also as a Person: the third person of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. Without the Holy Spirit, God is distant, Christ belongs to the past and the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is just an organization, teaching is simple propaganda, liturgy is magic and the Christian life is the morality of slaves. But in the Holy Spirit, the resurrected Christ is present, the Gospel is the life force, the Church is a Trinitarian community, authority is a liberating service, the missionary mission is the call of Pentecost (cf. Ignatius of Laodicea).
It is not enough to know that the Holy Spirit is generally present in the Church. It is necessary to know how he is present in each of us, how we can come into contact with him, and how to live our personal Pentecost. We hear the answer in the second reading, summed up in two words: charisma and sacrament. “The gifts of grace are different, but the Spirit is the same” (1 Cor 12:4). God gives everyone his own gifts of charisma and we all receive the sacraments. Charisma gifts are given by the Holy Spirit individually and to individuals to enrich and sanctify the Church. There is a perfect reciprocity between them. The Holy Spirit sanctifies, guides, and adorns God’s people with virtues not only through sacraments and services but also by distributing special graces among believers of all statuses, bestowing them on each individually as He wishes (cf. 1 Cor 12:11). Using them, he makes people capable and willing to undertake various works and tasks, useful for the renewal and further growth of the Church, as it is written: “However, everyone receives manifestations of the Spirit for general benefit. One receives through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and another according to the same Spirit the word of knowledge, another faith in the same Spirit, and another in the same Spirit the gift of healing, another the ability to work miracles, and another the interpretation of tongues. But all these works by the same Spirit, who distributes to everyone as he wishes” (1 Cor 12,7-11). An analogy can be used: From a large tank of water, one draws water to quench thirst, another for washing, another for irrigation, and another for some production… another the power of miracles, and another the interpretation of tongues. But all these works by the same Spirit, who distributes to everyone as he wishes” (1 Cor 12,7-11). An analogy can be used: From a large tank of water, one draws water to quench thirst, another for washing, another for irrigation, and another for some production… another the power of miracles, and another the interpretation of tongues. But all these works by the same Spirit, who distributes to everyone as he wishes” (1 Cor 12,7-11). An analogy can be used: From a large tank of water, one draws water to quench thirst, another for washing, another for irrigation, and another for some production…
The gifts of the Spirit become the renewal and growth of the Church. These gifts of charisma, whether extraordinary or widespread, must be received with great gratitude and joy because they correspond to the needs of the Church and are useful to her (cf. LG 12).
Today, on the feast of Pentecost, it is necessary to notice the sacrament and extraordinary gifts, charisma. The Holy Spirit makes the sacraments effective. He is the originator of the sacraments. The Church teaches about the effects of the sacraments that one effect works by itself, regardless of a person’s intention, by the power of Christ’s simple decree. The second effect depends on the inner disposition of both the giver and the receiver. Both effects spring from the activity of the Holy Spirit in different ways. The first always, so to speak, automatically, the second from the activity of the Holy Spirit in a mysterious connection with human freedom. The effects of the sacraments do not depend only on the personal disposition of the recipient.
The Holy Spirit makes the Paschal mystery effective and actualizes it. Charisms are the best allies of the sacraments. There is the strongest attraction between them because they come from the same Spirit and their goal is to shape the body of Christ – the Church. The sacraments enable and nourish the charisms, and the charisms, in turn, enliven the sacraments. All this protects us from habit, appearance, and dryness. How to make it happen?
In Bardejov above the decorated iron gate of the town hall is this inscription: “Priusquam incipits consulto!” – “Consider before you decide”. Today, this sign also wants to draw our attention to responsibility in our lives. Let’s not think for a long time and let’s not waste precious time. The Old Testament author of the Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us: “Wisdom is better than offensive weapons, but one sinner can spoil many good things” (Ecclesiastes 9:18).
It would be good to put a small book by Thomas Kempen On Following Christ on your bedside table and add one verse from this book to your evening or morning prayer. These verses have already helped many to find their way more easily and quickly in the complexity of difficulties, obligations, but also in other events of life. Often that little is enough. A few seconds, one thought, a piece of advice – and the new day begin more joyfully, or we end it with more benefit. Many find joy in overcoming bad thoughts, they are more vigilant about their mouths and have the power to control their eyes and possibly their actions.
High school student Georg says that under the influence of the book On Following Christ, he learned to see the people around him more. He no longer finds it difficult to give up his comfort and can help before anyone asks him to. He notices the elderly and the surrounding sick. And the Catholic greeting is a matter of course for him. Irenka notes that she found time and from the beginning had to force herself to read the Scriptures and the book mentioned, but also books such as: Inconspicuous Virtues (by PJ Roberti), Cesta (by St. Josemaría Escrivá), Filotea (by St. Francis Sales), but also books by Carl Carretto, Michel Quoist, helped her in this. Josef says that he is happy because, under the influence of prayer, he appreciates more what his parents, teachers, priest, and classmates mean to him… Ružena confessed to her friend that she is already praying intending to be a good wife, mother, and wife one day. Viktor stopped going through mass outside the church and found a place inside where he felt good and participated in the liturgy. He thinks that he can enroll in the rosary brotherhood so that with his tithe of the rosary he becomes a participant in the graces that the Virgin Mary promised to her devotees. Pupils Viktorka and Ivanka offered to be lectors in the church, and the parish priest not only accepted their offer but paid more attention to them so that they could read correctly in the church. John attended his first Holy Communion in May. His mother suggested that he become a minister. He has been at the altar as a minister for a month. Anton was very impressed by the behavior of the mathematics teacher who attends Holy Communion every Sunday. And today, as a high school graduate, he cannot imagine that he too would not receive the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist at least on Sunday. The master of vocational training confessed to his wife what lesson his student had given him: “An ambiguous word fell out of my mouth and you should have seen the eyes of Ruder as they looked at me! The word ‘sorry’ brought a smile back to his face.”
Do we have similar experiences, daily practices, and motives?
“Everything has its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including youth and beauty, obligations and fun, spiritual and physical maturation, love, duty, task, and writing… “God will call before his judgment all actions and everything that is hidden, whether it was good or bad” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). I wish many gifts of the Holy Spirit to each of you, and especially to you who are starting and want to take the right step.