Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy Pentecost! On this beautiful day we celebrate that moment when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the first disciples. We celebrate that moment when the Holy Spirit descended like tongues of fire upon the disciples and gave them the courage and the strength to go out and preach the Gospel, miraculously to each in his own tongue. We celebrate today that feast which we consider the birthday of the Church, when Christians first carried out that mission to sanctify the world.
The Holy Spirit though is probably the least appreciated of the Trinity, and we often have a very gray understanding of Him. Perhaps rightfully so, as by His nature He is the most mysterious, while also being the most intimately related to us. Because the Father we know to be the Creator and Lord, Master of the Universe and Source of all things – a concept easy to grasp. The Son we know to be the Redeemer and Savior, the one who became like us in all things except sin to raise us to new life – a person we have images of and can see, even if it’s hard to imagine God truly taking on humanity. And the Spirit we know to be the life of God within us, that animating principle that allows God to work through us and sanctify us so that we may become like His Son. But it’s an unseen reality, it’s something at work constantly within us and yet something we can be completely oblivious to.
The meaning of the word spirit, its roots, can be enlightening in helping us understand the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The first is the Greek word for spirit which is pneuma, meaning wind or breath. Throughout the Scriptures we see the presence of the Spirit: a wind sweeps over the waters in the very beginning of Genesis, God breaths the breath of life into Adam and Eve, and a driving wind accompanies the arrival of the Spirit at Pentecost. The wind is a mighty force, as anyone who has withstood a hurricane would know, but air is also a source of life. We rarely think of breathing, but it’s obviously the most basic function of our bodies. So too the Spirit is an incredibly powerful force in our lives while also being something fundamental, which our spiritual lives cannot function without.
The Latin word for Spirit is anima, which may look familiar in words like animation. Something that is animated has life, it has something within it that gives it the power to move and function. So too the Spirit is ultimately meant to be the force within us that moves us in all that we do. It’s meant to be the voice we listen to in our hearts as we pray. As we grow in holiness, as we grow more and more like Christ each day, it is because we are allowing the Spirit to move within us and guide us. It is when we stop seeking our own will and follow God’s will by allowing that Spirit to do its work, that we truly become saints.
This Pentecost may we breath in deeply the life of the Holy Spirit. May we allow ourselves to be animated with His life. Like the firs disciples, may we be driven out to spread the Good News of the Lord’s death and resurrection to all we meet, that they may know the joy we’ve found in a life united with Christ.
Yours in Christ,