Word Alive — Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD
May 28, 2023
Pentecost Sunday – A / Solemnity of the Descent of the Holy Spirit Upon the Apostles
Once an archbishop was discussing Christianity with a learned Japanese writer. The writer told the archbishop, “I can understand God the Father and God the Son, but I can never understand the significance of the ‘Honorable Bird’ (Holy Spirit).”
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Today is the feast of the Holy Spirit or Pentecost. It commemorates the momentous event when the Holy Spirit descended on the fearful apostles in the Cenacle where the Last Supper took place.
One difficulty in knowing the “Honorable Bird” is that he is represented in various symbols. The Holy Spirit is portrayed as a dove that hovered over Christ when he was baptized at the river Jordan.
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At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down “like wind” with fiery tongues over the heads of the disciples. “Wind” (“pnoe” in Greek) is used in the Scripture to designate a person’s “breath” or “spirit” (ruah in Hebrew) (Read Genesis 2,7).
The Spirit is the Church’s breath. The divine breath gave the young Christian Church astonishing powers like the gift of tongues, courage to face the hostile Jews, a burning zeal diligence in preaching Jesus and his teachings. Because of this, Christianity has rapidly proliferated through all parts of the world.
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The Spirit also moves us to conversion and spiritual rebirth. When I was assigned in our Divine Word College of Laoag, I had a friend who was a bank manager whose accounting expertise I consulted. He talked of nothing but money and investments. He wasn’t really that irreligious because he would go to church regularly, standing behind a pillar of the church. One would call him a “church pillar.”
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Some years ago, we met in Manila. I expected him to rattle off his favorite topic–money. Surprisingly, he now talked about religious matters and works of charity.
“What happened?” I asked. “It’s a long story, Father,” he said, “but after joining a Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS), I realized that I’d been missing a lot of important things in life. Where God occupied the sideline before, now He is at the center of my life.”
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Did you ever feel turning a new life because of guilt feelings over some illegal transactions or illicit relationships? Or were you inspired to turn to God because of a near death experience, the good example of a friend, a spiritual retreat or a seminar like Couples for Christ, Marriage Encounter or an inspiring homily? Such experiences are the whispers and promptings of the Holy Spirit. The most important question, however, is: Do you heed the Spirit’s call?
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Unfortunately, we prefer to follow the urgings of the evil spirit because the enticements and material incentives are alluring. When we give in, however, we feel the gnawing disturbance and remorse of conscience that can lead to despair and suicide like what happened to Judas Iscariot.
We have received Baptism and Confirmation from the Holy Spirit but we need a keener awareness of His presence. Above all, heed His promptings.
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THE LIGHTER SIDE. Johnny has been a charitable, God-fearing man so one day the Lord told him, “As a fitting reward, ask three wishes and I’ll grant you.” “First, I want one billion dollars.” Poof! There’s a flash, and a paper with a Swiss bank account number appears in Johnny’s hand.
“Next, I want a Ferrari.” Poof! Another blinding flash, and shiny Ferrari is parked next to him.
“Finally,” Johnny says, “I want to be irresistible to women.” Poof! There’s another flash, and Johnny turns into a box of chocolates.