We should keep in mind that not only the solemnity of the Ascension, but also the solemnity of Pentecost can be correctly understood only within the context of the mystical Body of Christ, of which Jesus Christ is the Head and all of us are the members of his Body; we are the Church.
Now, while we do not know when the birthday of Jesus the Head is, we certainly know that Pentecost is the birthday of the Body, of all of us, the Church.
Pentecost is indeed our “birthday” as the Body of Christ in the sense that we are born to new life in the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the soul and heart of the mystical Body.
The book of Genesis tells us how God created man from the clay of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. (cf. Genesis 2:7)
In today’s gospel passage, we see how Jesus breathed on the dispirited apostles his breath, his Spirit and they were made into a reenergized, new creation. (cf. John 20:22)
Essentially, our life depends totally, absolutely on God and on his Spirit. If God withholds his Spirit, we cease to exist.
When you hide your face, they are lost. When you take away their breath, they perish and return to the dust from which they came. When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. Psalm 104:29-30
Jesus emphasizes our total dependence on the Holy Spirit with a blunt statement: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Nothing good is possible without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
As St. Paul points out in today’s second reading, (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13) we cannot even say “Jesus is Lord,” except in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our dependence on the Holy Spirit is all-encompassing. Besides, we are informed by Jesus that any sin can be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Spirit.
“Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Luke 12:10
And, what is the sin against the Holy Spirit? How can one blaspheme against the Holy Spirit?
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the refusal to accept our total dependence on the power of the Spirit for our very existence and to operate as children of God.
It would be the equivalent of saying: “Lord God, I do not need you; I’m strong enough on my own; I can save myself with my own human resources.”
This would be the epitome of sheer madness, spiritual suicide; this indeed is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
After breathing his Spirit upon his apostles, Jesus gives them the awesome power to forgive sin.
Thus, we know that, in the power of the Spirit, and in the power of the Spirit alone, we can defeat the only reality that can keep us from full unity and intimacy with our God.
The Holy Spirit is powerfully operative in the Sacrament of Reconciliation through a priest-confessor, offering us assured forgiveness by washing the stains of our guilt away.
But, today, we want to emphasize the positive action of the Holy Spirit.
We want to remind each other of how generous God is in outpouring of his Holy Spirit upon us.
By reflecting on what the Bible tells us about the action of the Holy Spirit in our minds and hearts, we gather that he grants us wisdom, understanding, good counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of God.
These awesome seven gifts, if allowed to become operative in us, are all endowed with the intense drive proper of the Holy Spirit to unify.
These seven gifts lead us, spontaneously, towards the unity of the Body desired by Jesus and are for the good of the whole Body without reserve.
If we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and use wisely his gifts, we are guaranteed to be able to lead a fruitful, productive life, bearing the fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22.
These are some of the comforting aspects of living as a new creation in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Alas, we tend to be all engrossed in so many different things that, oftentimes, we lose sight of what the Holy Spirit desires to do in us and around us.
For this reason, I suggest simply to go on the Internet and download today’s Sequence.
It is the English translation of the old Latin hymn Veni, Sancte Spiritus. (You can find it on Wikipedia)
Once printed, we should keep it handy.
It is a prayer clearly inspired by God to provide spiritual support in our weakness and deficiencies.
Whenever we are groping in darkness and we need to make an important decision, we can pray: “shed a ray of light divine!”
Whenever reality hits hard, and we realize how poor we truly are, we can pray: “come, Father of the poor! Come, source of all our gifts!”
Whenever we feel overburdened, restless, depleted of all energy, we can pray: “sweet refreshment here below; in our labor, rest most sweet; grateful coolness in the heat; solace in the midst of woe.”
Whenever our wounds are festering, we can pray: “heal our wounds.”
Whenever it is hard for us to pray and we feel arid inside, we should force ourselves to pray: “on our dryness pour your dew.”
Whenever we, foolishly, resist grace and God’s generous help, we should humbly implore: “bend the stubborn heart and will; melt the frozen, warm the chill.”
And on all occasions, sad and joyful alike, we should keep saying: “give me your salvation, Lord; give me joys that never end. Amen. Hallelujah.