Fr Bob Writes – May 1, 2016

We are now only a couple of weeks away from the celebration of Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples of Jesus in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, and the Church was born.  Our next few bulletins will therefore look at the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in our lives.  The following is an excerpt from Fr James Mallon’s book: Divine Renovation, pp 178ff

“The key phrase…is “when the Advocate comes” (John 15:26).  Everything waits on the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. …The New Testament authors are clear about two things: promise and fulfillment.

In Luke-Acts, the great two-volume work written by Saint Luke, there is, from the opening, a clear sense that the Holy Spirit is at work.  John the Baptist is proclaimed to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” even before his birth (Luke 1:51).  The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and that the power of the most High will “overshadow” her (Luke 1:35).  Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41) when Mary visits.  Zechariah is filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67) and the Holy Spirit rests upon the prophet Simeon and reveals to him that he will behold the Lord’s Anointed.  In spite of the activity of the Spirit before and throughout the ministry of Jesus, there is still a sense that the promise of God has not been fulfilled, and an expectation that it will come soon.  After the Resurrection, Jesus tells them (ie his apostles), “I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

The fulfillment of the promise is imminent.  The clouds burst on the day of Pentecost and those cowering men are transformed by a new Power that will lead to the Gospel being proclaimed to the ends of the earth (Acts 2:1ff).  What follows throughout the Acts of the Apostles is the constant proclamation of Christ, his death and resurrection accompanied with the power of the Holy Spirit.  To repent and believe would lead to baptism and to the experience of being filled by the Holy Spirit – which is as tangible as going down into the waters of baptism.  This encounter with the Holy Spirit is not abstract, but is truly an experience of God’s power, which transforms the community of believers and the individual believer.

In the early Church, then, proclamation was always accompanied by demonstrations of power through the Holy Spirit.  To respond to the Gospel was to receive the proclamation and be filled with this Spirit of Power, which is God in us.  This experience of the Holy Spirit was fundamental to the growth of the early Church, and is essential for the Christian life today, especially in the call to the New Evangelization.  It is no surprise, then, that churches that are healthy and growing facilitate and encourage their members not just to believe in the Holy Spirit, or to receive the Spirit of God sacramentally, but to truly experience the Spirit of power in their lives.  The first wave of evangelization came from a realization of the fulfillment of “the promise” on the day of Pentecost, a realization that was experiential and transformative.  So, too, will the New Evangelization be fulfilled only by a new Pentecost.”