Towards the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus’ many discourses centered on the coming of the Paraclete or the advocate. Today, Our Lord Jesus fulfills the promise of sending the comforter so that his disciples would not be left as orphans. Due to the nature of their mission in the world as witnesses to the Christ event, the Holy Spirit is very important: first, to empower them and secondly to prepare the world to receive the message of salvation the apostles and disciples bring. That is why we heard about the story of Babel where humanity in her pride and quest to be independent from God became scattered and confused. But something different took place at Pentecost. Here, God showed his might that the confusion of language, which took place at Babel, became a fusion of language at Pentecost. The peoples’ misunderstanding of one another at Babel as a result of the confusion of their language, is now reversed at Pentecost. At Pentecost, humanity has come back to God and feels the need for God. The Holy Spirit creates God-consciousness in us. He recreates the whole universe and replicates the life, death and resurrection of Christ in us.
At Pentecost, the church became universal. The one language spoken by the apostles was understood by people of every nation present at the time in Jerusalem. The power of the Holy Spirit shattered the confines under which the apostles were hiding for fear of the Jews. It dispelled their fears and their discouragements and transformed them into fearless and courageous witnesses of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The same Holy Spirit who has been at work right from creation and guided the course of our salvation history, helped the Old Testament people of God. He was the Spirit of prophecy who spoke through the prophets. He now helps us in our weakness. As we do not know how to pray as we ought, He makes intercessions for us with groaning which cannot be expressed in speech (Romans 8:26). The same Holy Spirit gives us, the members of Christ’s Body different gifts to be used within the one Body to build us the holy Church (see 1 Cor. 12). He is the Spirit of unity and universality of the Church. The unity created by the Holy Spirit is the Trinitarian unity. This unity is unity in diversity. After his resurrection, Our Lord, Jesus Christ breathed this Spirit on his disciples and said to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained (John 20:22-23).” The Holy Spirit will fashion diverse people of diverse backgrounds, through the ministry of the apostles, into one Body of Christ.
In baptism and especially in the sacrament of confirmation, we received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit spectacularly descended upon the Apostles with the Blessed Virgin Mary on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Like the Apostles, the Holy Spirit gave us the sevenfold gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and the fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit reproduces the life of Jesus Christ in us manifested through the twelve fruits observed in the life of Love or charity; joy; peace; patience; benignity (or kindness); goodness; longanimity (or long suffering); mildness; faith; modesty; continence and chastity. With these gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, we are formed into perfect disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ who continue to bear witness to Him in the world. These are the measures through which we discern and know authentic followers of Christ. Let us today and forever work for these manifestations of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and His twelve fruits are given to us to be utilized in our relationships. They are given for the work of witnessing and ministry both within the church and outside of the church.
Let us pray for these gifts for ourselves and for our loved ones, for our day to day living.