Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7,12-13/Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23 (15:26-27,16;12-15)
Jesus Breathes the Holy Spirit
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from Fr. David J. Endres
2015 Pentecost Sunday—May 24, 2015
The Holy Spirit: Present to His People
Purpose: The Holy Spirit is present in the Church. The Spirit’s work is part of God’s plan to remain present to his people.
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23
Each of us has his own organizing style. For me, my filing system consists of stacks of paper on my desk, on end tables, sometimes even on window sills, radiators, and the floor of my room. Even though it may look like complete disorder, trust me: I know what each of those stacks means.
And the reason I have this method is because some further action may be required for each item. And because “out of sight” usually equals “out of mind,” if I put something in a drawer or filing cabinet, I may never think of it again.
For us, “out of sight” often means “out of mind,” but it is not so with God. It is not by chance that last Sunday we celebrated the Ascension, and today we celebrate Pentecost. Pentecost is our celebration of God’s gift of the Spirit—a manifestation that “out of sight” doesn’t mean “out of mind.” For even though the Holy Spirit is not materially visible to us, the workings of the Spirit are visible.
Every time we celebrate Mass, we call upon the Spirit to transform bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. When we bless holy water for baptism, we call upon the Spirit. When we ordain men for priesthood, we call on the Holy Spirit to sanctify these men and consecrate them for priestly service. When we anoint the sick, we call on the Spirit to grace the individual with peace, healing, and forgiveness of their sins.
A symbol of the coming of the Holy Spirit, which dates back to the Apostles, is the laying on of hands. At every Mass, there is a laying on of hands in which the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine: the epiclesis (calling down). At anointing of the sick and at ordination, the priest literally places his hands on the heads of those receiving the sacraments.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Paul says to a group of new Christians, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And so Paul laid his hands on them, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Sometimes we can be like those who Paul encountered. We may ask, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” Or say, “We haven’t seen the Spirit” or “We haven’t heard much about this Spirit.”
But as often as we take part in the sacraments, we experience a manifestation of God’s Spirit. For even after the Ascension, after Jesus was raised up to heaven, he did not want to abandon us. Instead, he sent his Spirit upon the apostles so that they could share that same Spirit through sacramental signs.
Today, let us thank God for his Spirit in our lives, especially the Spirit’s presence in the sacraments that allow us to recognize that God wants to be present to us always—in our sight, in our minds, and in our hearts.
Suggestions for Further Reading: Catechism of the Catholic Church, §687-741; Rev. Peter Stravinskas, “The Holy Spirit in the Sacraments,”
About Fr. David J. Endres
Fr. David J. Endres is former chaplain and religion teacher at Bishop Fenwick High School, Franklin, Ohio, and currently assistant professor of Church history at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a doctorate from the School of Theology at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. His last article in HPR appeared in October 2008; he also contributed homilies for the January 2011 issue.