Bishop Morneau's Column|
"Reflection on the Readings"
|Bishop Robert Morneau
The Holy Spirit blows where it will
Pentecost invites us to become deeply familiar with the Holy Spirit
June 3, Pentecost
By Bishop Robert Morneau
Questions for reflection:
1. How do you experience the Holy Spirit?
2. Which symbols - wind, fire, living water, spiritual anointing - speak to you most deeply about the work of the Spirit?
3. How does the truth that we are temples of the Holy Spirit impact on your daily life?
Some people have the gift of saying a lot in just a few words. One such individual was Pope Paul VI who, in two sentences, gives us a rich understanding of the gift of Holy Spirit. Ponder and pray over these words.
"The Holy Spirit is the animator and sanctifier of the Church, her divine breath, the wind in her sails, her unifying principle, her interior source of life and strength, her support and her consoler, her source of chrisms and songs, her peace and her joy, her reward and prelude of blessed and eternal life. The Church needs this perennial Pentecost; it needs fire in the heart, words on her lips, prophesy in her glance." (Pope Paul VI)
Jesus breathed on the frightened disciples and filled them with the Holy Spirit. And we know what happened after that - courageous lives of self-giving. One after the other they sacrificed their lives in spreading the Gospel, in forgiving sins, in serving the wounded of the world. Peace governed their hearts and their relationships; joy energized them to share the gifts received.
St. Paul understood well the unifying principle that the Holy Spirit exercised in the early Church. Though ministries and works differed, though various gifts and charisms were displayed, all was given for the common good. Those who drank of the Holy Spirit discovered a oneness that eliminated false divisions. St. Paul knew from experience the animating and sanctifying work of the Spirit.
In early May the world was given a taste of the workings of the Holy Spirit when Pope John Paul II traveled to Athens and met with the Greek Orthodox Church leaders. In asking forgiveness for past transgressions, the Holy Father made manifest the Spirit present in the Church today. Pentecost happened early this year.
In Pope Paul VI's reflection on the Holy Spirit cited above, two images were used to describe the presence of the Spirit: wind and fire. The Pentecostal winds continue to move the Church today. A mighty wind blew between 1962-1965 during the Vatican Council II when the Church looked deeply into her own nature and her relationships with the world. And the fire of the Holy Spirit brought about new initiatives in ecumenism and the works of justice.
Every Pentecost each of us receives another invitation to deepen our familiarity with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a breeze on the nap of the neck or the small flame of a candle in a dark room will trigger an awareness and a response to God's presence in our lives. Perhaps a light nudge or a faint whisper will awaken us to our baptismal summon to serve. Perhaps the sigh of a beggar or the cry of the poor will move us to a new level of generosity.
One thing is certain: the Spirit blows were it will. The Spirit blew in the upper room, in Corinth, and now in Athens and in our own hearts. Pentecost happens today! Blessed be God!
(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese.)