Pentecost Sunday

05-20-2018Gospel ReflectionRev. John C. Granato

My Dear Friends,

Today we commemorate the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after Easter and our Lord's Resurrection, the Holy Spirit, promised by our Lord to His Apostles, is commonly called the birthday of the Catholic Church. It is the culmination of the nine day novena of the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary, beginning when Jesus ascended into Heaven. At the end of this novena, and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were given the courage and the strength to begin their ministry. Indeed, they were given the gifts of the Holy Spirit beginning with the ability to speak in tongues.

This means that when the Apostles spoke, even though they were speaking their own language, the people of the surrounding areas heard and understood the Apostles in their own native language.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the Holy Spirit is known to us through the following ways:

  • in the Scriptures he inspired;
  • in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
  • in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists;
  • in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;
  • in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
  • in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
  • in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
  • in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation.

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, is equal to the Father and the Son. Our Nicene Creed that we recite at every Sunday Mass says that He proceeds from the Father and the Son. And just as the Son is consubstantial with the Father, so is the Spirit consubstantial. The three persons of the Trinity are of the same substance. Yet, the Holy Spirit, through the Scriptures, is known by many symbols. These symbols are: water, anointing (oil), fire, cloud and light, the hand (imposition of hands) the finger (the finger of God), the seal (indelible character imprinted upon the soul by the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders) and the dove. It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation. It is the Holy Spirit that brings us life.

Many people today like to use the feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit. This cannot be done in Catholic theology for many reasons. There is no distinction of gender between the persons of the Trinity. Most importantly, though, we turn to the Blessed Mother to help us understand why the Holy Spirit is called by using masculine pronouns. It is the Holy Spirit that overshadowed the Blessed Mother on the Annunciation, in which Mary conceived Jesus. At that moment, Mary, who is a daughter of God the Father, becomes a Mother of God the Son, and the Spouse of God the Holy Spirit. It is obvious why the Holy Spirit cannot be feminine if He is to be the Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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.

Fr. John