Holy SpiritToday is the birthday of the Church!  At Christmas the Word of God became flesh - today the Body of Christ, the Church becomes a reality.  For us God takes up life at the very centre of our being, in our hearts.

This means that for us the day of Pentecost has no sunset.  If we believe that Spirit dwells with us, then all our despair and sorrow are covered with a veil and become almost illusions.

Today God is ours.  God sends us not just finite gifts but the gift of God’s very self.  God is Wisdom, God is Understanding, God is Strength, God is Courage and so, in giving God’s self to us, we are given the clarity of God’s knowledge, the freedom of God’s Love and the Joy and reverence of God’s Trinitarian life.  And God’s name is Holy Spirit.

Do we understand that message?  Can we absorb the profundity of what happened at Pentecost, has it really sunk in?  Is this part of what we believe and Are?   Sometimes we give in to mere rhetoric and pious words when we talk of Pentecost.  It might be more appropriate to cry out with the man in Mark’s gospel and with St Augustine – “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”

We may think that we can earn or merit the gifts of the Holy Spirit, merit the Holy Spirit.  We cannot earn that, we can only long for it, thirst for it.  We might ask do we really thirst for the Holy Spirit or have we got an unacknowledged fear of the Holy Spirit because when the Holy Spirit comes we are never left sedentary or inactive.  Again, to quote St Augustine before his conversion:  “Lord grant me chastity and self-control, but please not yet!”

Like the wind, the Holy Spirit blows where it will.  We can be sure that the Spirit roams throughout our world seeking us and wishing to touch us where we are.  God wishes to stamp us with God’s indestructible seal and claim us, God wishes to plant within us the gift of God’s very life.  This has happened to us.

We are baptised disciples and so, have been given God’s life.  And this is why we must open ourselves daily to the Spirit of God and be converted to the Holy Spirit of God each day.  This means that we must have a prayerful disposition and be open for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  The Church was in prayer when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit was not and cannot be merited.  The Holy Spirit is the wonder of God’s Love.  Our deeds do not force the Holy Spirit to come down from heaven.  Our cries of despair or distress cannot compel the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is and remains the free gift of God.

Karl Rahner:  “Come, secret joy, into the tears of the world.  We have nothing that can force you:  yet on that account, we are confident."                                                                                                                                        Veni Sancte Spiritus.