And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:41-42)
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple. (Luke 2:25-27)
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days. (Luke 4:1-2)
And [behold]I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. (Luke 24:49)
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. (Acts 2:3-4)
After their release [Peter and John] they went back to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. And when they heard it, they raised their voices to God with one accord. As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:23,24,31)
While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. (Acts 10:44-46)
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid [his]hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Altogether there were about twelve men. (Acts 19:5-7)
The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
It is often said that the Holy Spirit is the forgotten person of the Trinity. Why is this so when the importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit permeates all of the Scriptures? In the New Testament, even prior to the day of Pentecost, we see the Holy Spirit affecting the lives and decisions of so many people—even Jesus himself! Mary was compelled to say “yes” to the angel and become the Mother of God (Luke 1:35). Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when she said these words “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:41-43). Simeon was “inspired by the Spirit” to come to the temple and meet and prophesy over Jesus (Luke 2:25-27). Even Jesus was “Filled with the Spirit” and compelled by the Spirit to go into the desert to fast and pray (Luke 4:1-2).
This coming Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. As Catholic men, it is easy to think of Pentecost as just a once a year celebration of a powerful event that took place 2000 years ago. It is certainly true that something radical happened in the lives of the apostles when they were filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:3-4). They were filled with excitement and began speaking all about Jesus and his resurrection. Their hearts were burning with love for the Lord and with a desire to share his good news with everyone.
When the Holy Spirit filled the apostles, he opened their minds as well. He gave them spiritual revelation about God’s plan of salvation, opening up for them the mystery of redemption in ways that their own human minds could never have grasped. Because he was preparing his apostles for ministry, he wanted them to be clear. He wanted to impress upon them the fact that his gospel is about receiving “power from on high” (Luke 24:49). It is not just a moral teaching or a set of intellectual propositions. He wanted them to proclaim that his gospel means letting his Holy Spirit fill them and open their minds. And it worked! For the rest of their lives, the apostles—and Paul and so many others after them— preached this message.
Yet Pentecost was more than a one time event for the apostles and all their followers. After Peter and John were released from prison, all the people rejoiced and “raised their voices to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24). As they prayed, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Peter was compelled by the Spirit to visit Cornelius’ house, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Cornelius and “all who were listening to Peter’s message” (Acts 10:44-46). The same thing happened when Paul laid his hands on the disciples in Ephesus, after he had baptized them (Acts 19:5-6).
What was true for the early followers of Jesus is also true for us, today. This “power from on high” (Luke 24:49), the Holy Spirit, has been “given” to us (Romans 5:5). We have received God’s revelation and our minds have been opened by the same grace that opened the apostles’ and the early disciples’—grace from heaven. The Holy Spirit wants to burn the knowledge of God’s love and mercy into each of our hearts. He wants to fill us with the same joy that the apostles knew— the joy of our salvation and the joy of knowing Jesus.
Every day the Spirit wants to play an active role in our lives, just as he did in the lives of these early believers. He wants to counsel us and give us just the right words to say to someone who is hurting. He wants to console us when we are feeling unworthy or hopeless. He wants to help us see our sin, and then lead us into the freedom of his mercy. He wants to convince us of God’s passionate love for us (Romans 5:5), so that we can walk through our days with our heads held high.
Pentecost Sunday Mass is a perfect opportunity to experience a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit and allow him to lift you up. When you hear the readings, let the Holy Spirit fill your mind with revelation. When you receive the Eucharist, ask Jesus to fill you afresh with his Spirit and use you more fully to build his kingdom. As you kneel and pray after communion, know that Christ is in you, and that he is your hope of glory. God loves to stretch our minds and fill us more deeply with his Spirit. What better way to experience it than at the table of the Lord on Pentecost Sunday, and every Sunday!
“O Lord, fill me with your Spirit once again, just as you did for the apostles. Let your Spirit move me, shake me, enlighten me, enliven me, and equip me to live a live pleasing to you. Let your Spirit empower me to be your witness to this broken world.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- The article begins with these words: “It is often said that the Holy Spirit is the forgotten person of the Trinity.” Do you agree with them? Why or why not?
- The Scriptures, and the article, describe many examples of New Testament persons who were filled with the Spirit and lead by the Spirit. The article then goes on to challenge us with these words: “What was true for the early followers of Jesus is also true for us, today.” In what ways has the Holy Spirit manifested himself in a powerful way in your life?
- The power of the Spirit that came at Pentecost is not just a once a year celebration, or a one time Sacrament. It is meant to be experienced by each of us on an ongoing basis. Do you agree with this/ Why or why not?
- The perfect place for us to experience a fresh infilling of the Spirit, as the article suggests, is at Mass. We can ask for this as we hear God’s word proclaimed and receive the “bread of life” in the Eucharist. Beginning with this Pentecost Sunday Mass, are you willing to do this on an ongoing basis? Why or why not?
- Take some time now to pray for a deeper infilling of the Holy Spirit. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.