This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles who were assembled in prayer in the upper room with Mary and the first community of Christ’s disciples. We can speak of this event as “the birth of the Church.” The Church had her origins in Christ’s death on the cross and was manifested to the world on Pentecost.
With the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles became capable of fulfilling the mission Christ entrusted to them. They became ready to bear witness to the crucified and risen Christ. The Holy Spirit made them missionaries. From Pentecost on, the Church remains in a state of mission, going out like the apostles on Pentecost to share the truth, joy, and beauty of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit moves us out of ourselves and drives us to communicate the joy of our faith to others.
Pope Francis speaks about “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing.” He teaches that “egoism makes us bitter, sad, and depresses us. Evangelizing uplifts us.” The Holy Spirit gives us the zeal, energy, and courage for our mission of evangelization.
How do we evangelize? How do we communicate the faith to others? The most important thing is our witness. This involves living our faith in everyday life, witnessing to Christ through love in our families, in our work, and in our communities. Let us remember Jesus’ words: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). Can people tell that we are disciples of Jesus by our speech and conduct? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to shape our lives with His gift of counsel and right judgment? Do we speak the Gospel by living our faith with consistency?
We hear in this Sunday’s Gospel the mandate of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. This is the Church’s mission. It is not just the mission of the clergy. We are all called to spread the Gospel by proclaiming and living the Gospel. To do so, we must open ourselves to the gifts of the Holy Spirit we received in Baptism and Confirmation. This happens especially through prayer. The Apostles prayed with Mary for nine days in the upper room and then received the fire of the Holy Spirit who helped and inspired them for mission.
Do you ever pray to the Holy Spirit? Last year, at a general audience, Pope Francis asked the crowd “How many of you pray every day to the Holy Spirit?” The Holy Father invited them to pray every day to the Holy Spirit to open their hearts to Jesus. He gave this sample prayer: “Holy Spirit, make my heart open to the word of God. Make my heart open to goodness. Make my heart open to the beauty of God every day.” When we call on the Holy Spirit to guide us on the path of discipleship, He helps us and strengthens us to go forth from our comfort zone, to live our faith with conviction, and to go out to others in need of the light of the Gospel.
The Church is missionary from its very beginning. We need spiritual energy for the new evangelization, what our Holy Father calls “a renewed missionary impulse.” There are many difficulties and challenges in the world today. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been times of darkness and evil. The light of Christ can always illumine the darkness and the power of the Holy Spirit can overcome all evil. Easter and Pentecost are not merely events of the past. They are present realities in the life of the Church.
May the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, help us, guide us, and direct us to live our faith with conviction, to bear witness to the love of Christ, and to go out like the apostles at Pentecost to make disciples of all nations and right here in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend!
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