At baptism, through water and the Spirit, we are received into the family of God. It is our introduction to the Holy Spirit. At confirmation, we acknowledge ourselves as Catholics and open up to receive the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. For many of us, these sacraments were received so long ago that we don’t often think of ourselves as temples of the Holy Spirit.
As the Easter season comes to a conclusion with the celebration of Pentecost, the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes the events of that day thousands of years ago (Acts 2:1-11). We hear how a ‘driving wind’ came through the place and ‘tongues as of fire’ rested on each of the apostles. With the prompting of the Spirit, each was able to proclaim Jesus in various languages so that Jews gathered in the city could understand in their native tongue. It sounds like an incredible event, one that I wish I could have been there to witness. If we even remember our confirmation, it paled in comparison to that first Pentecost. Yet that same Spirit driving the apostles is the very one that came to us in confirmation.
We’re not all called to preach God’s word to the ends of the earth as the apostles were, but we are called to be open to the promptings of the Spirit within us. Paul tells the Corinthians, “You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within — the Spirit you have received from God.” (1 Cor 6:19) It begins with how we treat ourselves and is also revealed in our actions towards others. Do we consider ourselves temples or do we wall off that portion of our hearts and souls for when we go to Mass? Are we open to the seven gifts that the Spirit brings: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord? These supernatural graces help us to put God as the center of our lives and to avoid offending Him though sin.
God’s Spirit may not come to us in wind and flame, but it is no less present and no less effective, as long as we are open to Him. We may not see the result of the good that we do, but it is noticed by God. Perhaps this Pentecost, we can ask God to renew His Spirit within us so that we can be God’s hands and feet in our little corner of the world.
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 will renew the face of the earth.