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Pentecost

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/05/16 at 12:00 AM

With our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven last week, we were given a promise – a promise that is, perhaps, the most important promise ever made to humanity. I’m speaking, of course, of the promise our Lord made to send us the Holy Spirit.

Today, we see this promise fulfilled in our midst as we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost! Today we commemorate that moment when the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire upon our Lady and the apostles gathered in prayer in the Upper Room.

And we who are heirs to the faith of the apostles and members of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church, have received this same Spirit, too: first when we were baptized, and then again at our Confirmation.

While perhaps it didn’t seem as dramatic as the original Pentecost, what the Holy Spirit does within us is no less dramatic than what happened to Mary and the apostles.

In those very sublime sacramental moments when the Holy Spirit enters into our souls, our souls are changed eternally – shaped more into an image of Christ – so we might, indeed, be made worthy of the Lord’s promise of eternal life.

Indeed, the waters of baptism, by which the Holy Spirit first enters into our souls, have the power to quench the very fires of hell within us and to unleash within us the same living waters our Lord promised to the woman at the well.

The Holy Spirit is known by many names and titles: the Consoler, the Advocate, the Paraclete, and the Sanctifier, among others. But His primary purpose is to make us holy so that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

While it is the Father who creates us and sustains us in being, and while it is the Son who suffered and died for us in order to redeem us, it is the Holy Spirit who works to sanctify us and make us holy.

As anyone who has earnestly sought holiness can attest, holiness can be elusive, especially when we consider how easily we slip into sin. That’s precisely why the Holy Spirit is so important in our lives.

It is the Spirit who guides us, helps us discern, and inspires us. It is the Spirit who prays within us. It is the Spirit who dwells within us with His 7 gifts of wisdom, counsel, knowledge, understanding, piety, courage and fear of the Lord.

It is the Holy Spirit, who is the source of all holiness, who first awakens faith within us. He helps us to grow in spiritual freedom, and He restores the divine likeness within us that was lost by our sin.

In short, it is the Spirit who shapes and conditions our souls. He re‐patterns them into an image of the Divine and thus makes us holy so that we might be saved when our earthly lives come to an end. And that’s the whole point of our life on earth!

So many times when a person dies we naturally console ourselves with comments like: “Well, I know he is in a better place now.”

And while that may be true, especially if the person lived a good and holy life, going to Heaven after we die is not something we should ever presume upon.

While dying is a certainly a prerequisite for going to Heaven, my friends, we have to do more than just die to get to Heaven!As I mentioned last Sunday, our salvation is a gift from God, but it’s not something that we sit around and wait for. Our salvation is something we participate in and work out over the entire course of our lives.

It’s not something we can earn, for it is indeed a free gift, but we must cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls if we wish to be saved.

God the Father created us out of love; He created us for Himself. When He saw us reject Him through sin, He sent the Son to redeem us.

This Jesus did by becoming man and by His Paschal Mystery. By His suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus made salvation a possibility for mankind. And the Holy Spirit, as the Sanctifier, works within us to prepare us in holiness so that we might receive this gift of salvation.

So while Jesus has made salvation a possibility for us by redeeming us, it is the Holy Spirit who enables to participate in the work of redemption for our own salvation and the salvation of other souls as well.

Moreover, while the Holy Spirit fills the whole universe, St. Basil the Great teaches that He only acts in the souls of those who are worthy. In other words, He acts in the souls of those who are habitually in a state of grace.

For when we fall into moral sin, we evict the Holy Spirit from our souls. And He will only return after we have made a good confession and received absolution.

In this process of restoring us to grace, whether it be through baptism or reconciliation, the Holy Spirit restores our original beauty that we forfeited by our sinfulness, freeing us from sin and death, making us children of God and heirs to an eternal inheritance.

God created us in love, and He created us in His own image and likeness. Therefore we are created with beauty. But we mar, distort, and destroy that beauty by our sinfulness. And through the grace of the sacraments, the Holy Spirits works to restore our God‐ given beauty.

And so today, above all else, must be a day of great gratitude for us. As we gather to honor the Holy Spirit, we must first and foremost thank Him for the work He does within us so that we might be saved.

But in addition to being a day of gratitude, today is also a day of commissioning for us, for the Holy Spirit works to make us holy not simply so that we might be saved, but also that we might lead others in the path of salvation.

The history of the Church is filled with examples of the Holy Spirit working in and through people we now call saints.

The Spirit has guided many holy men and women to witness to the Faith with their very lives, to found religious orders, and to teach and explain the doctrines of Catholicism so that others might be saved.

It was the Holy Spirit that led St. Augustine to conversion and inspired his teachings that the Church still relies upon today. It was the Holy Spirit that gave St. Paul the courage to preach the truth of Christ in the midst of terrible sufferings and persecutions, even to the point of death.

In our modern world it was the Holy Spirit who inspired Blessed Mother Teresa to found a religious order to care for the poorest of the poor, so that they, too, might know Christ.

And it was the Holy Spirit who nurtured and stirred the young heart of St. Therese to teach the Church how to love.

The saints, whom we love, venerate, and look up to, were simply people who allowed the Holy Spirit into their lives, and who tried to live by His promptings. And because of their works and examples, many other souls have been saved.

My brothers and sisters, receive the Holy Spirit. Receive Him in mind and heart. Allow Him to transform you, to comfort you, and to sanctify you. And allow Him to use you to inspire others to holiness. We have nothing to lose, and only Heaven to gain.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

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