I like how in the readings this morning we hear of the acts of the Holy Spirit, how he came upon the disciples, and how it empowered them to do the will of God. We also hear of Jesus giving the disciples, and thus us too, a directive of what he wants us to do with this newfound “spirit” within us, and of a roadmap of how to do it.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy spirit.” There is a lot going on here of significance in this Gospel reading and in the other readings as well that has much to say to us today. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit literally into them which recalls life being breathed into Adam in Genesis. Here Jesus breathes new life into the disciples through the Holy Spirit. We see in the reading from Acts, tongues of fire, signifying a new covenant between God and man, come to rest on each disciple and filled with the holy spirit, Acts tells us they speak in tongues of, “the mighty acts of God.”
“As the father has sent me, so I send you”. When we are sent on a task, we are given the tools to succeed, and we have built up the trust and earned the right to be tasked with it. We are not sent ill-equipped. Jesus Christ was sent by the father on a specific mission that he embraced. He so embraced the mission, this will of God, that he embodied it and he became his mission.
In his life on earth, he showed the disciples what to do; he healed the sick, helped the lame walk, gave sight to the blind, forgave sin. He taught the disciples with parables and stories, and he led by example. He gave them everything he had. And what did he ask in return? What is this new covenant with mankind? “As the father has sent me, so I send you.”
At the end of the day, that simply is what he calls us to do. To evangelize for him. Earlier in John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” Maybe that’s where we start in the mission and duty to do his work on earth. What if the covenant we make with ourselves is to love unconditionally…those who are easy to love…and those who are more difficult to love? The holy spirit resides in all the baptized, do we love them no matter what? Do we love them only when it is easy to love? This new level of love is difficult, but it is possible.
Armed with his love commandment, can our example change a heart? Can our example make someone so curious that they want to know more, to understand just where all of this love can possibly come from? If they ask us, we can, like the disciples, tell them about “the mighty acts of God”.
To some, this love, this compassion may seem like we are speaking in tongues…but to some it may seem…appealing. How come they are like that? Our love can be disarming in difficult or hostile situations. And our love can be contagious. Our love can be a magnet for the Church, and for Jesus Christ. Love, after all, is a “mighty act of God”.
Can this love be a formula, really be the formula for us? A way to spread the good news? God wants ALL people in heaven. Do we love all people enough to help them get there? How can we do that and are we equipped? Because of the Holy Spirit, I know we are.
At our baptism, we entered God’s Church and become a temple for the Holy Spirit, and because the Holy Spirit is in all of us, he is also at work in all of us too. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tell us that the Holy Spirit brings us all the specific gifts of…
- Fear of the Lord
And better yet those gifts bear fruit for all of us that, if we allow, will change who we are. So, what are the fruits of the Holy Spirit?? In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul said, “In contrast, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is….
So just as Jesus Christ came into this world well equipped for his mission, he well equipped the disciples, and thus us, to continue to carry out his mission. We have spoked in recent weeks about letting go during our interactions with others and letting the Holy Spirit take over, to be our words. If love is our foundation, then the Holy Spirit can work wonders through us.
What if I let these fruits of the Holy Spirit out and took them for a test drive? Would they help me to act a little differently, or would they inspire me to act a little differently? Maybe we do this already and people see this in us all the time… maybe we can tell them about our joy, peace, gentleness…. We can tell them about “the mighty acts of God”.
Fruits of the Holy Spirit, maybe we are well armed and equipped to do the work on God, maybe we should take them out for a spin. Maybe that is our tongues of fire, our wind, our… Pentecost.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you”.