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Why does the Holy Spirit come at Pentecost?

The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen went to discover the magnetic meridian of the North Pole. He took with him a homing pigeon which he released at the North Pole. His very concerned wife awaited news about him—even whether he was dead or alive. Then one day she saw the homing pigeon circling above her; and she cried out, “He’s alive! My husband is alive.”

In a similar way, the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had promised to send, comes to the Apostles to assure them that Jesus who ascended and disappeared from their sight was truly alive. And the Holy Spirit comes to enliven the Apostles, relieve their distress, and give them strength and power to make the Church come alive in the world. The Church, like Jesus in the womb of the Blessed Mother, is born by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus begins the presence of Christ in His Body the Church, a presence which will last all days until the end of time.

In many manifestations of power, the Holy Spirit descends as a powerful force of wind and fire, to breathe live into the followers of Christ and to fire them up with zeal to continue the mission of bringing Christ’s Good News until the Day of His Second Coming. We do so by fulfilling our Baptism just as Jesus did His own. In our Baptism God commissioned us to be exactly what Jesus was for the world—priest, prophet, and king.

As priest, each of us prays and points to God as the One to be adored and obeyed. As prophet, each of us is to speak God’s moral will in our families and society, and church. As King (or shepherd) we are to guide others in the path of the Good Shepherd, praying for His reign to be over us always.

Life in the Spirit is much more than an emotional feeling or sentiment, as one Southern grandmother explained to her granddaughter. Their family belonged to a sect known as the “Holy Rollers” who jumped up and down, shouted, and called for the Holy Spirit to come. So, the 10-year-old asked her grandmother: “Grandma, does all the jumping mean the Holy Spirit is there?” “Honey”, the grandmother explained. “it don’t matter how high they jump. It’s what they do when they come down that will tell you if it’s the real thing.”

After 40 days of Lent and 50 days of Easter, we now return to “Ordinary Time.” But the Holy Spirit comes, not so that we may continue being ordinary people doing the same old things, but that we may make the ordinary become extraordinary by doing great or small things with hearts filled love. Then, like St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, we can fill the God’s garden of earth with beautiful acts of love.

Doing these things under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will not only help the Church to thrive and grow but will guarantee us entrance into Paradise, that place where we can walk joyfully with the Lord Jesus who has gone before us and waits for us to come home and be with Him forever in the House of the Father.

Father Kirlin