The Holy Spirit works through us

19 May, 2024 Pentecost Year B

At the centre of Christian faith is the great paradox: there is only ONE God; yet God is THREE [Father, Son and Spirit”]. We know this because of the witness of Jesus’ own life and the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus’ promises his disciples.


Pentecost is the celebration of that promise when the disciples, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, have their lives upturned, transforming them into evangelists and missionaries. This is the day the Church begins its missionary outreach to proclaim the “marvels of God” to all the world.


In Acts of the Apostles, Luke strains to explain this experience of the Holy Spirit in words. Rather, he gives us images of a mighty wind, tongues of fire, and disciples speaking in multiple languages! However else we imagine this it is, in the words of a 5th century Syrian monk Pseudo-Dionysius, a mystical experience. This same monk gives us the image of the trinitarian “dancing God” of dynamic light, dazzling darkness, gift, excess, silence and transcendence bringing humanity and creation into being to display the divine glory.


We cannot speak of the Holy Spirit as independent of Father and Son; nor should we speak of any ‘person’ of the Trinity in isolation. A 12th century monk, Richard of St Victor, speaks of the triune God as a loving wave originating in the Father, ebbing and flowing in the Son, then spread with joy through the Holy Spirit. Richard’s teacher and fellow-monk, Hugh of St Victor, speaks of the “three eyes of knowing”: bodily sensation; rational thought; spiritual awakening. It is this third form of knowing – whether we call it mystical awareness or spiritual awakening – that is the gift of the Spirit.


Too often our culture dismisses the “spirit world” as a place of magic and sorcery. This is a danger if we isolate spiritual knowledge and mystical awareness from the loving embrace of Father, Son and Spirit. Our Christian vocation is to be “Spirit-filled” people who rely not on our own resources but on the power of the living God in our midst to transform the world. The Spirit brings insight, compassion, comfort and joy to our lives, not by turning our backs on suffering and evil, but through the celebration of the liberating presence and revolutionary promises of God to redeem the world.


Pentecost reminds us the Church exists to herald and proclaim the Gospel to the world. Our primary concern must always be with outsiders, people who have not yet come to know the presence of Christ nor the gift of the Spirit.


To appreciate this gift of faith is to be a mystic – and to live this faith is to be missionary. Pentecost was not a one-off event. Rather, Pentecost is the ongoing experience of the movement of the Holy Spirit in our world calling us to the ever-deepening, always surprising, realisation that God is with us, God is in us, and God works through us. And so, we pray: “Come Holy Spirit”.


Gerard Hall SM

© Majellan Media 2024

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