Acts 2:1-11 + 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 + John 20:19-23
May 15, 2016
“There are different works but the same God….”
When the event of Pentecost occurred almost 2000 years ago, the apostles were transformed by their “encounter” with the Holy Spirit. But in what way were they changed? The Holy Spirit didn’t make them taller, or richer, or stronger. The Holy Spirit doesn’t try to change us in these ways, because He isn’t interested in our bank accounts, or the vehicles we drive, or our looks. The Holy Spirit is interested in the state of our souls.
So how were the apostles’ souls changed? What did the apostles “get out of” their encounter with the Holy Spirit? The apostles didn’t receive the Holy Spirit in order to help them “feel good” about their relationship with God.
Instead, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to apostles and prophets, clergy and lay people, in the first and twenty-first centuries, in order to build the Church on earth, so that the members of the Church might reach Heaven. St. Paul describes the Mystical Body of Christ this way: “There are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in every one. To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” To each person, the Holy Spirit is given for the sake of service: “for the common good”, in the words of St. Paul.
We—just like the first members of the Church 2000 years ago—receive the Holy Spirit in simple ways. We receive the Holy Spirit through our devout reading of the Bible early in the morning, or late at night. We receive the Holy Spirit by worthily accepting the Lord through the sacraments. We receive the Holy Spirit by generously carrying out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on behalf of our neighbors. But as we receive the Holy Spirit—as His Presence grows in our souls—every one of the gifts that blossoms from His Presence there is to be laid at the feet of others in further service, and for the glory of God.