However let me ask you another question: why did the Holy Spirit have to come upon them AGAIN? Are you confused about what I mean by: AGAIN? A couple of examples may help us to go deeper into this message as the Holy Spirit always goes deeper in us when he comes upon us. The Holy Spirit doesn’t stay on the surface of our skin but he penetrates our inmost being with his mighty power.
So let us go to those promised examples. The first is taken from the Gospel of Luke where we read: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will comer you with its shadow. And so the child you will conceive will be holy and will be called to the Son of God.” Who said that and to whom? The archangel Gabriel spoke those words to the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation and as we say in the Angelus three times a day, at least those who pray it say it, “And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.” So why did the Virgin Mary have to receive the Holy Spirit AGAIN on the Pentecost Sunday if she had already received him? Think about this question.
The second example is taken from the Gospel of John. Listen to that: “Jesus breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven, for those whose sins you retain they are retained.” Can you remember when it happened and to whom Jesus said those words? On the evening of Easter Sunday Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his Apostles in the same upper room. Why did they have to receive the Holy Spirit AGAIN if they had already received him? Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit on Easter Sunday, 50 days before the Pentecost.
If you are struggling now to answer my questions don’t hide under the chair in order not to be selected to speak up but maybe answer me another question. When did you take a breath last time? Are you planning to take another breath? Why are you going to do it AGAIN? Because you would be dead if you didn’t take a breath.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers gathered to celebrate this Pentecost Solemnity.
The Holy Spirit is not a one off event. But he is as necessary to us as the air is. In the same Acts of the Apostles we read: “In God we live and move and have our being.” This living, moving and having our being is being transmitted to us by continues coming of the Holy Spirit. That’s why when I am asked why Catholics should come to Mass every Sunday, why they should go to confession regularly, why they need to pray daily, why they need to do all these things AGAIN and AGAIN I answer with the question I have asked you before: Why do you take a breath AGAIN and AGAIN? The answer to those church questions and the breathing question is the same: To be alive. The Psalm 103 we prayed between readings summarised it this way: “Lord, you take back your spirit, they die, returning to the dust from which they came. You send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.”
Every time at Mass we hear: “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down you Spirit upon them like the dewfall.” AGAIN? Or when we go to confess our sins we hear: “God the Father of mercies… sent the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. I absolve you from your sins...” The Holy Spirit is coming AGAIN. He is coming because we are not a rock to be sculptured. We are living beings. Today we are different to who we were yesterday, the last Sunday, 50 days ago, last year etc. We need the Holy Spirit to shape us to saints in today’s circumstances, in today’s joys and sorrows, in today’s successes and failures. So, is the question: “Why does the Holy Spirit need to come again appropriate?”? We should rather profess: “Thank God that the Holy Spirit is coming again as in him we live, move and have our being.
A sinner needs the Holy Spirit to be able to return to the Lord through repentance. A saint needs the Holy Spirit to persevere on the path of holiness.