​Reflecting on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives

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Reflecting on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives

Featuring petitions in Tagalog from the Philippines; Malayalam from India; Korean; German; Polish; Congolese; and Vietnamese; as well as music from Congolese and Filipino choirs, the Pentecost Vigil Mass celebrated by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, at the Church of the Holy Spirit on May 22 prayed for an increase of faith, hope, and love in worship communities.

This culminated with those present reciting the prayer of consecration to the Holy Spirit.

Those assembled were also reminded that they gathered at the eucharistic celebration in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in hospitals and nursing homes; in orphanages, prisons, and detention centers; the homebound, the elderly, children, young adults, and those alienated and marginalized by poverty or substance abuse.

“We gather to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to each of us and to all of us as a community of faith. We are at a new moment in our pilgrim journey as an archdiocese,” stressed Archbishop Gustavo. “We are entering a new avenue of pastoral conversion, a pastoral de conjunto. We need to take personal responsibility for the mission and ministry of this local church.”

In the first reading at the liturgy, the story of the Tower of Babel described chaos, alienation, the inability to communicate with others. At Pentecost through the power of the Holy Spirit, this is reversed: The Spirit transforms the fearful disciples into bold proclaimers of the Lord Jesus and his gospel. The power of the Spirit opens the way to encounter and dialogue and evangelization.

Listeners heard in the second reading how God made a covenant with his chosen people at Mt. Sinai. The Spirit of God helps us walk in God’s ways, showing us the way, giving us all we need to be faithful to God. In the third reading, Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones, the Spirit of God gives life and energy to parched souls, new life to those alienated from God. The prophet Joel’s vision in the fourth reading foresaw a time when God’s Spirit will come upon a remnant, the faithful survivors of his people, who will dream new dreams and see a new vision of their future. In the epistle St. Paul said that “the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness” and makes us strong!

In the Gospel at the Mass Jesus called out: “Let anyone who thirsts, come to me and drink … rivers of living water will flow from within him,” This is a reference to the renewing, refreshing gifts of the Holy Spirit.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem asked why Christ calls the grace of the Spirit water-agua. He answered: “because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine.” He adds that the Spirit’s “action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same … the Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console … As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of” the one who receives the Holy Spirit.

The Second Vatican Council said that, by the power of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit “enables the Church to grow young, perpetually renews it, and leads it to complete union with its Spouse,” Christ himself. (Lumen Gentium, 4).

Pope Francis often speaks about the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Holy Spirit is the source of unity amid diversity: “differing currents of thought in philosophy, theology and pastoral practice, if open to being reconciled by the Spirit in respect and love, can enable the Church to grow, since all of them help to express more clearly the immense riches of God’s word.”

The Holy Father says that “seeing reality with the eyes of faith, we cannot fail to acknowledge what the Holy Spirit is sowing.”

Because of our baptism and confirmation, the pontiff in his encyclical Evangelii Gaudium wrote that we are empowered to proclaim the Lord Jesus and his Gospel. “In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization. The Holy Spirit enriches the entire evangelizing Church with different charisms. These gifts are meant to renew and build up the Church. They are not an inheritance, safely secured and entrusted to a small group for safekeeping; rather they are gifts of the Spirit integrated into the body of the Church, drawn to the center which is Christ and then channeled into an evangelizing impulse.”

“We need the refreshing, renewing gifts of the Holy Spirit as we need water itself. We need the light of the Holy Spirit to see things as God sees them and to respond in love,” emphasized Archbishop Gustavo. “We need the Holy Spirit, working in each and every one of us, to build up the kingdom of God in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. We need to recognize one another’s gifts and to channel them through the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about unity amid our diversity — not uniformity, but communion with one another and with the triune God.”

The archbishop explained that while this is all very beautiful and inspiring, living in accord with the gospel can be difficult, as thousands of Christians are living in fear and many have been martyred in the past year because of their faith in the Lord Jesus.

But God is with us, the archbishop exclaimed, saying, “Let us draw near to the Lord because we thirst for new life, because we are called to be missionary disciples and challenged to go out of ourselves in service to others. Let us invite him into ourselves this evening in a special way. Let us entrust our lives — as individuals and as a community of faith – to the Holy Spirit.”

He concluded, “Come, Holy Spirit, come! Ven, Holy Spirit, Ven!”