Monthly Scripture Reflection
“except by the Holy Spirit”
How lovely that June starts with the Feast of Pentecost, when the nascent church springs to life with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Apparently the disciples rushed right out of their meeting place, eager to tell the world of the marvelous message of Jesus.
And it must have been the Spirit, too, who enabled the hearers from many communities to understand in their native languages what was being preached by the Galileans in theirs. What is the message that was so electrifying? That “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son” that believers in him will “have eternal life.” St. John tells us that—and this quote is seen at sporting events everywhere: John 3:16.
We now get clearer picture of the Father, one who sent his Son not to condemn us, “but that the world might be saved through him.” By St. Paul we are assured that by sharing the “cup of blessing” and the “bread we break” we become, “though many…one body.” And unless we do partake, we “do not have life” in us. “Through one man (Adam) sin entered the world.” But now through one man, Jesus Christ, the “grace of God…overflows for the many.”
On Pentecost we hear “Receive the Holy Spirit.” On Holy Trinity Sunday we learn that even we, “a stiff-necked people” can “mend our ways, agree with one another, and live in peace,” and then “The God of love and peace will be with [us].” On the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (formerly called Corpus Christi), Jesus tells us “the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” “I have life because of the Father, so also [those] who feed on me will have life because of me.” On the last Sunday we are told, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.”
So, St. Matthew says, we are to “speak in the light…proclaim on the housetops “this great news”. “Do not fear.” “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Each of us, as part of the One Body, must determine which gift of the Holy Spirit we most embody—and act on it. Is it teaching or preaching? Caring for someone in need? Sharing our wealth—or our time? Seeing Christ in others—and reacting to that image? Showing our love?
“Receive the Holy Spirit” was said to us, too, at Confirmation. We can say to God, as Jeremiah did when he felt inadequate,
“to you I have entrusted my cause.”