This weekend, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. Next weekend we will celebrate Pentecost. There is an important connection between these two feasts that we, as 21st Century Christians should pay close attention to: the 3rd Person of the Trinity. In the final discourse of John’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples that they should be happy for his departure for 2 reasons: because he was going back to his Father (the defining relationship of Jesus’ ministry in the 4th Gospel); and because if he did not go, he could not, along with the Father, send the Paraclete. The sending of the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit (all names for the 3rd Person of the Trinity) is immensely important for the life of those who believe in Jesus and live in “the last days” – the time between Jesus’ Ascension to the Father and His Return in Glory for the consummation of all things. We live in the time of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guarantees the fulfillment of Jesus’ final promise to be with us always. The Holy Spirit is our on-going access to the Holy Trinity – as the Spirit continually leads us, individually and as Church, to the Father and Son from whom the Spirit emanates. The Spirit is God’s breath giving life to our individual Christianity and to the Church. The Holy Spirit is breathed into the Church at Pentecost and ever after, and through the ministry of the Church, is poured out on us in the Sacraments and as God’s grace works in every part of our lives. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Sacraments to make us Christians and to strengthen us to live the demands, challenges, and joys of the life to which Jesus and the Father have called us.
Look at the Eucharistic Prayer: before speaking the Words of Institution (what Jesus said at the Last Supper), the priest always invokes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the gifts (bread and wine) to transform them into the body and blood of the Jesus. That same Spirit is at Work in the Word of God proclaimed at the Mass and in the Hearts of the individual believers helping them to understand the truth of the Eucharist, even when our senses would try to convince us that the gifts remain simply bread and wine. Always the promised teacher, the Holy Spirit is teaching us at the level of our being that our Faith may be strengthened and our hearts buoyed up by the sure and certain hope that Jesus will always be with us.
The challenge for us is to constantly remember that the Holy Spirit is more than just the “force of God’s action” in the world. The Spirit is God active in the World. It seems to me that we – who live in the time of the Holy Spirit, whose very access to the Father and the Son are guaranteed and affected by the Holy Spirit – that we forget about the Holy Spirit in our prayer. We pray to the Father; we pray to the Son; we even pray to the Saints, but do we ever pray directly to the Holy Spirit? Or do we, in effect, forget about the 3rd Person of the trinity and kind of “demote” the Spirit to being a mere servant of the Will of the Father and the Son (which, by the way, has been condemned as heresy). During these days, let me encourage you to reflect on the Holy Spirit. Intentionally seek the Spirit’s guidance and blessing. Maybe even a simple prayer to the Spirit thanking him for His gifts active in the Church and the world.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Happy Ascension, Happy Pentecost.