Solemnity of Pentecost, Year C ~ June 5, 2022
Holy Spirit- Our Helper
As Christians we’re privileged to have the Holy Spirit available to us to guide us and strengthen us. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom so that we can stay on the path that God has for us. If we ever feel confused or alone, remember that Jesus gave us this holy Comforter, the wise Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity; “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:4-15).
St. Bernard rightly says, “Holy Spirit is the Kiss of God”. Isn’t an amazing reflection by St. Bernard? If we study New Testament, we will come to know that Holy Spirit is the center of our lives, and he helps us to connect with the Father and his Son. Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost: descending of Holy Spirit upon the disciples. It’s a celebration of birth of Universal Church as well. This is the new beginning for disciples and for us as well because this is the day when disciples received Holy Spirit and became fearless witnesses to Jesus’s love.
The catechetical instructions by St. Cyril of Jerusalem highlight the importance of Holy Spirit in our life: “… In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple, and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of this action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous. The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good”.
He adds more “The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches. The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well. As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to clearly see things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of”.
Holy Spirit being a helper invites us to create the circle of love and care for one another because doing that we create just society where everyone is loved and accepted. I believe this following story will really help to understand the importance of the Fire of Holy Spirit by which our hearts and minds must burn to help other.
A man was driving his car, when he saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road. He saw that she needed help. So, he stopped his Pontiac near her Mercedes and got out. He smiled, while he was approaching her, still she was worried, as nobody had stopped for hours. Moreover, he did not look safe, as his appearance was so poor and shabby. He could see, how frightened she was, so he tried to calm her: “I’m here to help you, don’t worry. My name is Bryan Anderson”. The tire was flat, so he had to crawl under the car. While changing the tire, he got dirty, and his hands were hurt.
When the job was done, she asked how much she owed him for his help. Bryan smiled. He said: “If you really want to pay me back, the next time you see someone, who needs help, give that person the needed assistance. And think of me”.
That same evening, the lady stopped by a small cafe. The place looked dingy. Then she saw a waitress, nearly eight months pregnant, wiping her wet hands with a towel. The waitress had a sweet friendly smile, although she had spent the whole day on her feet.
The lady wondered, how someone, who has so little, can be so kind and giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan helping her. The lady had finished her meal and paid with a hundred-dollar bill. The waitress went to get change and when she came back, the lady was gone. She left a note on the napkin: “You don’t owe me anything. Somebody once helped me, just like now I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, do not let this chain of love end with you”. The waitress found four more one hundred bills under the napkin. That night the waitress came home earlier. She was thinking about the lady and the money she left. She was wondering, how the lady could know, how much she and her husband needed it? Especially now when the baby will soon arrive. She knew that her husband worried about that, so she was glad to tell him good news. Then she kissed him and whispered; “Now everything will be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson”.
St. Paul in writing to Romans opens our hearts and minds to understand the role of Holy Spirit: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (8:5-17).
St. Irenaeus writing against the heresies of his time, explains the mystery of the Pentecost: When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God. He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So, when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with humans, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin and gave them new life in Christ. Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first fruits of all the nations.
This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning. If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so, the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.
The Holy Spirit being our Helper fills our hearts with the love of God and Jesus so that we may spread the message of love to other. As we could see in the following story.
Every Sunday afternoon, after the morning service at their church, the pastor and his 11-year-old son would go out into their town and hand out Gospel tracts. One Sunday afternoon, as it came time for the pastor and his son to go to the streets with their tracts, it was very cold outside as well as pouring down rain. The boy bundled up in his warmest and driest clothes and said “Okay Dad, I’m ready. “His pastor dad asked, “Ready for what? “Dad, it’s time we gather our tracts together and go out. “Dad responds, “Son, it’s very cold outside, and it’s pouring down rain.” The boy gives his dad a surprised look, asking, “But Dad, aren’t people still going to hell, even though it’s raining?” Dad answers, “Son, I am not going out in this weather.” Despondently the boy asks, “Dad, can I go? Please?” His father hesitated for a moment but said, “You can go. Here are the tracts; be careful, son.” “Thanks Dad!” And with that, he was off and out into the rain. This 11-year-old boy walked the streets of the town, going door-to-door and handing everybody, he met in the street a Gospel tract. After hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking bone-chilled wet and down to his very last tract. He stopped on a corner and looked for someone to hand a tract to, but the streets were totally deserted.
Then, he turned toward the first home he saw and started up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the doorbell. He rang the bell, but nobody answered. He rang it again and again, but still no one answered. He waited, but still no answer. Finally, this 11-year-old trooper turned to leave, but something stopped him. Again, he turned to the door and rang the bell and knocked loudly on the door with his fist. He waited, something holding him there on the front porch. He rang again, and this time the door slowly opened. Standing in the doorway was a very sad looking elderly lady.
She softly asked, “What can I do for you, son? “With radiant eyes and a smile that lit up her world, this little boy said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry if I disturbed you, but I just want to tell you that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU! I came to give you my very last Gospel tract which will tell you all about Jesus and His great love.” With that, he handed her his last tract and turned to leave.
She called to him as he departed, “Thank you, son! And God bless you! “The following Sunday morning in church, the pastor was in the pulpit and as the service began, he asked, “Does anybody have a testimony or want to say anything?”
Slowly, in the back row of the church, an elderly lady stood to her feet. As she began to speak, a look of glorious radiance came from her face. ” My husband passed on some time ago, leaving me totally alone in this world. There was no point for me to live and I decided to end my life. When suddenly, the loud ringing of my doorbell downstairs startled me. I thought, ‘I’ll wait a minute, and whoever it is will go away.’ I waited and waited, but the ringing doorbell seemed to get more insistent and then the person ringing also started knocking loudly. I thought to myself again, ‘Who on earth could this be?! Nobody ever rings my bell or comes to see me!’ I loosened the rope from my neck and started for the front door. All the while, the bell rang louder and louder. When I opened the door and looked, I could hardly believe my eyes! There on my front porch was the most radiant and angelic little boy I had ever seen in my life! His smile! Oh, I could never describe it to you! And the words that came from his mouth caused my heart, that had long been dead, to leap to life as he exclaimed with a cherub-like voice, ‘Ma’am, I just came to tell you that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU.’
The Solemnity of Pentecost encourages us to leave our old ways of life and strive to be help to other people. In the First Reading we see the descending of the Holy Spirit and purifying of souls of the apostles. Just imagine if disciples would have stayed behind the closed doors of the room, then what would have happened: no more Christian faith neither the mention of Jesus’ name? Though there was fear, but Holy Spirit made the disciples to open the door from inside to go out but not someone came to open the door for them from outside. In similar way, Holy Spirit invites us to open the closed doors of our hearts from inside to let Jesus come in as St. Paul says, “even we don’t know how to pray but the Holy Spirit intercede for us and teaches us to call God; Abba, the Father”.
Holy Spirit renews the face of earth and helps us to recognize our relationship with the Lord. We must listen to Holy Spirit who intercede for us to fill us with his love who died on the Cross for us to give eternal life. St. Augustine says “O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams”. Let us renew our faith and begin anew with commitment to serve the Lord faithfully. “Come Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with the fire of God’s Love”.
Other Sermons In This Series
March 17, 2023
October 06, 2023
September 08, 2022