As we near the end of the Easter Season, and approach the Solemnity of Pentecost, we begin to hear more about the Holy Spirit in our Readings. Jesus, in today’s Gospel, promises to send an advocate to be with us. This advocate is the Spirit of Truth, who will dwell in us, and will ensure that we are not left orphans. This is the same Holy Spirit that was called down upon the residents of the city of Samaria, through the laying on of hands.
Why do we spend this time focusing on the Holy Spirit? I think it has to do with the fact that aside from Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation, we don’t really think about the Holy Spirit all that much. All our prayers are addressed to the Father, or to Jesus himself. We seemingly never pray directly to the Holy Spirit. And yet, when we stop and think about it, the Holy Spirit is far more active in our lives than we often realize!
The Holy Spirit is active in everything that we do as a Church. When we baptize, we call upon the Holy Spirit to make holy the waters of Baptism. When we celebrate the Eucharist, the Priest prays that the Holy Spirit will sanctify the gifts of bread and wine, so that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the prayer of absolution reminds us that God has sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. In Confirmation, the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is given to those who are anointed with the Sacred Chrism. In the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the Ordaining Bishop invokes the Holy Spirit upon the candidates for Ordination, so that they might be faithful ministers of the Sacred Mysteries. In the Sacrament of Marriage, the Holy Spirit seals the covenant between husband and wife, and gives them the gifts needed to be faithful to their marriage vows. In the Sacrament of the Sick, the Holy Spirit strengthens the hope of the sick person, and gives them the gift of peace and courage to deal with the difficulties that accompany serious illness.
Beyond the Sacraments of the Church, we also recognize that the Holy Spirit is given to us to unite us as one Body in Christ, to send us out to bear witness to the Gospel, and to guide us to knowledge of the truth. This is why Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to those that love him and keep his commandments. As we near the Solemnity of Pentecost, may we all learn to live in the Spirit of God, and allow the Spirit to guide us to the fullness of truth.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB