Let us reflect for a moment on the great gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive on Pentecost Sunday. As we celebrate the outpouring of Christ’s Spirit upon each of us, we discover that the Holy Spirit makes the Christian experience truly Catholic and universal, open to all human experience.
The whole of the New Testament can be understood precisely as the emergence of the Catholic, the universal, in Christian life. Christianity, had it not moved from where it was particular and small would have just been a small modification of the Jewish experience, a subset of Jewish piety that was still focused in and around Jerusalem and the restoration of a literal kingdom of Israel.
The first two generations of Christians discovered that Christianity couldn’t be just that. Because they had received the Holy Spirit, which is the universal principle, the Holy Spirit opened their eyes to the universal import of the Christian truth and it does so through their encountering non-Jews who received the Holy Spirit just as we have.
To be Catholic is to be universal and open to the world. Not only to Canada or North America or a certain familiar part of the world or segment of society but it must be open to all, open to every single person. The mind of Christ is not intended to be a selective mentality for a few but the perspective from which the whole world will be renewed and redeemed. An insight like this, the universal scope of salvation did not however come easily and without much straining.
The Holy Spirit is universal: always thinking beyond our boundaries, the horizons of our imaginations. We become an evangelizing, Spirit-filled Church when we allow the Spirit to fill us with holiness, joy and peace. When we are, caught up in the Spirit, when the Spirit dwells within us, the Spirit gives us creativity and imagination.
Empowered by the Spirit the Christian community can dare to dream dreams, to hope great things, to see visions, and to witness in word and deed to the power of the Spirit, whose fruits are seen by the traces of justice in the world.
We are not the principle evangelizers, it is the Holy Spirit who is the greatest evangelizer, who needs transparent instruments, who have emptied themselves of their agendas and opened themselves to God's work. The Holy Spirit makes us transcend all of the tribal and narcissistic impulses of our times for the sake of enfolding every human person into the reality of Christ.
What is the deepest and surest assurance and intimation that the Spirit is present in this in-between time of the first fruits, inspiring hope of a harvest yet to come? It is joy
. If there is joy present you can bet that the Holy Spirit has something to do with this deep and authentic joy. St. Augustine who was the most musically passionate of the Fathers of the Church memorably evokes the experience of joy in the presence of the Spirit with these words:
"Whenever people must labor hard they begin with songs whose words express their joy. But when joy brims over and words are not enough they abandon even this coherence and give themselves to the sheer sound of singing. What is this jubilation? What is this exultant song? It is the melody that means our hearts are bursting with feelings that cannot express themselves. And to whom does this jubilation most surely belong? Truly to God who is unutterable, if words will not come and may not remain silent what else can you do but let the melody soar? This is the song of the Holy Spirit.”
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.,
C.E.O., Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
-View Fr. Rosica’s Reflections online by clicking HERE.