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This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost. At the time of Jesus, the feast of Pentecost was a Jewish harvest festival. From our Christian perspective, however, this Feast celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Our first reading this weekend from the Acts of the Apostles describes this scene in dramatic language. “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in the one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
The scene described above is very dramatic. And certainly the gift of the Spirit can be manifested in this kind of dramatic way. I would suggest, though, that more often the gift of the Spirit is seen in less dramatic ways. This was certainly the case in our Gospel this weekend where we read of an appearance by the resurrected Jesus. We are told that Jesus appeared to his disciples and said: “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” The subtlety and intimacy of Jesus “breathing” the Spirit on his disciples reminds us that the gift of the Spirit sometimes comes in a quiet and calming manner.
Regardless of whether the gift of the Spirit is dramatic or subtle and peaceful, it is not given for our own use. Rather as St. Paul says in our second reading: “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- How have you seen the gift of the Spirit manifested?
- What gift(s) of the Spirit have you been given?
- How would you explain the Holy Spirit to someone who comes from a non-Christian background?