How Does the Spirit Come?


Acts 2: 1-11; 1 Cor 12: 3b-7, 12-13; John 20: 19-23

Dc. Larry Brockman


What do you say when I say:  “The Lord be with you”?  “And with your Spirit!”  Yes, “And with your Spirit”.   

And today we hear of the coming of the Holy Spirit.  It is when our spirits are filled with the Holy Spirit that we are in harmony with God.  So just how does that happen?   

When we were born, God endowed each of us with our Spirit as well as our bodies.    Our spirits are what makes you “you” and me “me”.  Our spirits radiate our individuality, our gifts, and our personality.   God blessed each of us with a unique spirit.    But, that spirit is not in harmony with God, because we are born with free will.    Our spirits are independent and self-centered to start.  As we develop, we come to seek after meaning in life, and the search for that leads us to God and his Spirit.   

We learn today that there are two stages to becoming filled with the Holy Spirit.  The first stage is the subject of the Gospel.  First, the Apostles were visited by the risen Christ, who offered them peace, and said “As the Father has sent me so also I send you.”  Then Jesus : “Breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  Jesus had just ordained them in the sacrament of Holy Orders.  These 11 men had been given special sacramental graces.  They had been commissioned to do God’s work; to go out to evangelize and Baptize all nations.  But, they were not yet active in their ministry.  That would come later.   

In the first reading, we hear about the birth of the Church.  The Apostles are all gathered together after the Ascension.  And the graces they received at their ordination are unlocked as the Holy Spirit descends on each one of them individually.    This is the second stage of the process.  After Pentecost, they throw open the doors of the upper room where they had shut themselves in out of fear; and go forth filled with zeal and with individual special gifts unafraid of the authorities.  They speak different languages; they move out in different directions; they have different talents- some as teachers, others preachers, still others as healers.  St. Paul talks about the different talents and gifts of the Spirit in Corinthians this morning.  But the point is that God moved through his Spirit to unlock the graces of ordination on his selected Apostles,   And the Church was born as all of the Apostles worked harmoniously to accomplish God’s plan to evangelize all people.   

Each of us goes through the same two stage process when to receive the Holy Spirit.  For example, take the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  When we receive the Eucharist, Jesus is present in each one of us, bringing us the Holy Spirit and His graces.  But as an assembly, we are joined together as the mystical body of Christ.   Collectively we have an opportunity to pray together and work wonders if we really believe in that power.   

Recognizing the second stage of the descent of the Holy Spirit along with His enabling power can be a problem.  Usually, it comes with prayer and in a group.  Many of you have seen it when our youth returns from their Confirmation retreat; or when Emmaus retreatants return from the Emmaus weekend; or at an ordination of priests or deacons.   But it can come in other ways as well.   

All confirmed Catholics are called to spread their faith.  It is when a person hears that call to participate in some way,  and then becomes active in the group they are called to that the Spirit will come to us, and activate the graces of the sacraments we have received  As he did to the Apostles this morning.   We have to take that extra step, a step towards our calling.     

This happens in Bible Study groups, the men’s club, the ladies association, the ministry to the sick, St. Vincent de Paul, the Knights of Columbus, in our families, and in many other ways when a person hears the call, gets involved, and works together to accomplish God’s plan for us.   

So this morning, as you hear about the descent of the Holy Spirit, think about the ways you are being called to get involved, to speak up in defense of your faith, to help a family member.  Follow that little voice inside that whispers to you to do something.  Pray about it and trust the Lord to help you as you make that step.  And then feel the Holy Spirit work within you to make it happen.   

And so I say it again:  “The Lord be with you.”


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