Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?
As believers, we know that our very life breath is at the command of God, who, as Psalm 104 reminds us, sends forth his Spirit so that we may be created – created at birth, but also created anew, constantly, throughout our lives. Creation is always a process, dynamic and ongoing. As Paul writes to the Romans, the Holy Spirit is constantly changing us, transforming us, coming to the aid of our weakness, and interceding for us in our prayer. The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the ongoing change we have the opportunity to enter into, the transformation that helps us, eventually, to reach perfect union with God.
When, in the Book of Genesis, human arrogance causes the people to make a name for themselves by building a tower with its top in the sky, God is dismayed: rather than grounding their identity in God alone, the people seek to locate their identity in a physical structure, one we will come to call the Tower of Babel. As a consequence, God confuses the speech of all the world, resulting in divisions among God’s creation. When, therefore, in the Acts of the Apostles, the twelve, open to and filled with the Holy Spirit, are able to speak in different tongues, they are reversing the arrogance of Babel with an eye to reuniting humankind. Christ, having died, risen and ascended, is now present in them, and they do not hesitate to allow his presence to flow from them, touching everyone in the crowd who hears them speaking in his own language. God can therefore once again be glad in his works, as the Christian community, redeemed, allows God to work through it on behalf of the world.
Both Pentecost readings from John’s Gospel make this clear: following Jesus’ death, rivers of living water flow from those who believe, as Jesus had foretold (Jn 7), once they receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Jn 20). All are given to drink of one Spirit (1 Corinthians); as a result, they have been transformed, changed, and will continue to be created ever anew as they proclaim that Jesus is Lord, sharing the love of God with all. It is this love that defines them, that gives them identity as God’s creation, a people God calls his own.
Does that love define us? Are we open to the life breath of God, open to the transformation the Spirit calls us to every day? May this Feast of Pentecost remind us to allow the Spirit to fill us, and to flow from us, touching all of creation with the overabundant love of God.
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle