Reflection on the Lectionary Readings for
May 28, 2023
Our Easter celebration reaches its grand finale today as we celebrate the glorious feast of Pentecost. Today, we focus on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in our individual lives.
Throughout our readings today, we see the amazing truth that the Holy Spirit gives us gifts and guidance in a very personal way — and that we are meant to use these gifts to build up the Body of Christ in a way that is unique to each one of us. What a stunning privilege and awesome responsibility. We must rely constantly on the Holy Spirit to guide us in the best use of the gifts, talents and blessings we have been given so that we can fulfill the specific mission to which we have been called.
Our first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, recalls the dramatic moment when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles just as Christ had promised. “Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” Amazing, but there is more. “Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” And still more. They “began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
Notice how personal and individual is this outpouring of the Spirit. The Spirit filled the entire house where they were gathered, yet also came to each one of them separately, as individuals (the tongues of fire parted and rested on each one of them). And not only that, the Spirit empowered each of them in a unique way (they began to speak in different tongues). This personalized way of “gifting” the apostles allowed them each to reach different people, sharing with them the “mighty acts of God.”
This is the same way the Holy Spirit operates today. He gives each of us a unique combination of gifts, and empowers each of us to speak in different “tongues” so that, together, every person can be offered the saving message of the Gospel in a way that is meaningful to them. (Have you ever been amazed at how some can be so creative and energetic with the little ones in the nursery or the teens in the youth group? And others so compassionate with our elderly or infirm parishioners? It is because the Holy Spirit has made us fluent in different “tongues.”)
Our second reading, from the letter to the Corinthians, illustrates the beautiful way the Spirit weaves together His personal gifts to each us for the good of all. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Embracing the stewardship way of life means that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in the best use of the unique gifts He has given to each of us, to accomplish the particular mission entrusted to us.
Jesus gives us this mission in our Gospel passage from John. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet to all those He places in our path. But we must not let this responsibility overwhelm us. Jesus Himself tells us so. Actually, He tells us twice in this passage: “Peace be with you.”
As this Easter season comes to a close, let us be at peace. And let us resolve to lean on the Holy Spirit more and more as our guide through the stewardship way of life.
On this feast of the Ascension, let us take a moment to “look up at the heavens” and ponder all the graces and blessings our loving God has given us. Then, let’s do something! Let’s put all those gifts to work as we serve as grateful witnesses to this amazing God.