Solemnity of Pentecost. May 23/24 2015
Gen 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-11; Rom 8:22-27; Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15
The Holy Spirit: best gift of God above
I recently saw an episode of the Cable TV show Hoarders that featured a particular woman who was paying hundreds of dollars monthly to store her numerous goods in several rooms of a storage facility. Most of her goods had not even been opened or used since she purchased them. Her own apartment was completely cluttered with near ceiling-high stuff that she had accumulated over the years. She had to wade through a maze of junk to reach her bed, kitchen, and dining table.
My initial thought while watching the show was to record that episode of the show and send it to my mother with a message, “Mom, now you can see that my room as a teenager was not too bad after all.” But on a serious note, I felt pity for the woman because she was obviously trapped in slavery to her goods; she could not stop buying stuff and she could not give anything away. She was indeed receiving blessings from God but she lost the blessed freedom that she should have over her possessions.
What we celebrate in today’s solemnity of Pentecost is the gift of the Spirit of glory. The Holy Spirit is called the best gift of God above because without the Spirit of glory in us, we will abuse all God’s gifts to us, using them for our own selfish pursuits and security until we become slaves to these gifts. With the Spirit of Glory in us, we are enlightened with the hope that belongs to our calling as God’s children and we use all things that we have and are for the greater glory of God and thus grow in freedom. The Spirit of glory moves us to constantly ponder, “Why have I been gifted with these blessings? How can I use them for the greater glory of God?” Without seriously considering these questions and responding to the grace of the Spirit of glory, we will become slaves of our blessings.
The biblical explanation of the origin of diverse languages in the world in Gen 11:1-9 shows how the gift of single language was abused by Noah’s descendants. Without any reference to God, the origin and goal of all goods, they presumed to use these gifts in the valley of Shinar as they desired and for their own purpose: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered all over the earth.” This was only a first step in presumption that they could do without God, “If they have started to do this, nothing will stop them from doing whatever they presumed to do.” Having abused this gift of a single speech, they lost this gift of a single speech among them and found themselves scattered all over the earth.
Jesus describes the role of the Holy Spirit as giving testimony to Him, “guiding us to all truth” and bestowing on us all that belongs to Christ: “He will glorify me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” By possessing the same Spirit of glory that filled the soul of Christ, we too, like Christ, living in the truth of God’s beloved children, can use all things that we have and all that we are for the Father’s glory. Jesus is no hoarder at all and He was not a slave to anything but used all for the Father’s glory and for our salvation: “Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” Jesus took the sacred humanity that He received from the Father through the Blessed Virgin Mary all the way to the Cross; He shed every drop of His blood for us on Calvary; He spent every second of His life teaching, healing, exorcising demons, praying to the Father, and doing works of mercy. He merited the Spirit of glory for us by His glorification. This Spirit of glory declares to us this same freedom over created things that Christ had and moves us to grow in freedom by using all for the greater glory of God.
St. Luke’s account of the Pentecost event shows what this Spirit of glory can do to us when we are open to respond to His inspirations. The timid disciples, now filled with the Spirit of glory, did not use the gift of tongues to speak of anything else but what God had done in raising Christ from the dead: “They spoke in their own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” Filled with the Spirit, they used their new gift of speech for the glory of God.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, how are we making use of the gifts and blessings that we have received from God? How are we making use of our time, health, energy, financial and material resources, and talents? How are we making use of our spiritual faculties of mind, heart, will and emotions? How is God being glorified in our relationships with others? How are we glorifying God with our bodies, knowing that we have been bought by Christ with a great price? Have we let ourselves be infected by our world that ignores the giftedness of all created things, including ourselves? Indeed, God has blessed us and still continues to bless us with His gifts. But He offers us the greatest of gifts today, the Spirit of glory, without which we will abuse these other gifts and lose our freedom that we should have as His beloved children.
We let this Spirit of glory dominate in our lives by striving to live in a state of grace. This means taking a stance that we will not be conquered or dominated by any sin, especially mortal sin that destroys the life of the Spirit within us. Secondly, we strive to use all that God offers us to grow in love for God and love for neighbors. The Spirit of glory will always move us to use those gifts that will make the life of charity flourish in us like the gifts of deep personal prayer, the reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and confession, regular mediation on the word of God, service to neighbors, devotion to Mary, Eucharistic adoration, study of the faith, etc. Without this firm and unwavering determination to live in a state of grace, we will not experience the full influence of the Spirit of glory which we have received at baptism.
I was reminded recently of how possible it is to live in our world today and still be vigilant in glorifying God with all that He has blessed us with. A young man took me recently to the home of a poor Filipina tailor here in the Philippines whom I wanted to fix my vestments. She refused to receive any payment from me for the job but insisted on mending the vestments free of charge, an offer I could not accept because of the need she obviously had for the money. I ended up giving the money to my guide to give to her when he went to get the fixed vestments. He brought home the mended vestments a few days later with the money untouched. When I asked why he did not give the money to her, he responded, “She took the money from me, said, “Thank you,” and then returned the money to me, saying, “Tell Father that this is my contribution to his mission.” She had very little but she was not a slave of the little that she had. It is only the Spirit of glory that can move her to use this little for the glory of God, offering it to a priest she never met before. Her example moved me to reflect on how I made use of God’s gifts to me.
As we encounter Christ in today’s Eucharist, He pours His Spirit of glory into our hearts. He also never ceases to bless us with His natural and supernatural gifts. Our freedom depends on how we make use of these gifts. With His Spirit living in us and moving us, we too can use His gifts without abusing them and becoming slaves to them but use them in a way that brings greater glory to God and thus grow continuously in our freedom until we enter into His own eternal glory.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!