Let us start this week’s reflection with a quotation from an article I have been recently reading.

“Since that first Pentecost Day the Holy Spirit has been alive and active in the Church and in the world. … Is the Spirit alive and active in our parish community? Is the Holy Spirit alive and active in you and in me? Can you feel the Spirit groaning inside you? Gurgling like hunger pains, needing to be fed, nourished, brought to birth, released, freed, liberated! Is the Holy Spirit praying in and through you? Pleading on your behalf? Speaking through you on behalf of others?” {PATRICK O’HAGAN: The Furrow: April 2016; Page 233}

If we spend some quality time in a concentrated reading of all today’s Scriptures (including the Psalm) a number of phrases with clear links to the above quotation should jump up and bite us.

Before we start all the weeks of ‘ordinary time’ we really need to achieve real clarity about the presence and purpose of the Holy Spirit alive and active in

THE CHURCH, not only in me as a solitary individual. I have for many years sensed a certain selfishness and individualism in many of the more fundamentalist approach to the Spirit of God. ‘I am filled with the Holy Spirit ….. I have this or that special gift ….. the Spirit really speaks to me.’ Too often forgotten is that fact that the Spirit is God-in-Christ’s gift to THE CHURCH, the world, to the community of believers.

If I am not a real, living, contributing part of the Church then I am unable to share in the gift given to the community. How is it possible for me to enjoy the presence of the Spirit in my life if I hold myself apart from the Church as some sort of privileged person because I ‘feel the Spirit within me’? Is it possible for me to be Spirit-filled if my actions introduce some sort of critically destructive element into the life of the community – holding myself up as especially chosen to be gifted more than anyone else?

It should be obvious from

TODAY’S FIRST READING [ACTS 2: 1 – 11] that the Spirit was given to a specific group of people for the benefit of the MANY“from every nation under heaven … (who heard) them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” TODAY’S PSALM [104 or 103] speaks of a Spirit that “renews the face of the earth.” It also speaks about the fact that without the Spirit they die’ and with the Spirit they are created.” THE SECOND READING [ROMANS 8: 8 – 17] speaks to us of “when we cry … led by the Spirit of God are sons of God … the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit … fellow heirs.” It is the Church, the believing community which shares with me the Spirit given to It. What is shared is given not for my own individual, private, benefit but for the enrichment of all, of the Church. In TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 14: 15 – 16. 23b – 26] we hear Jesus speaking to a group. It is the group to which the Spirit is promised and to which he “will teach all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”Apart from the group access to the Spirit is enormously limited. There is no one caste which is especially gifted. The Spirit is a spirit of UNITY for the benefit of all.

This is especially important for us as members of a parish community. Everything will not always be according to the mind, likes, preferences and convenience of all parishioners as individuals. This is impossible to achieve.

We are, indeed, all different but we do possess one single characteristic which binds and joins us together as CHURCH

– this is the Spirit of God. There are so many parish tensions and unpleasantness which could be avoided if we remember the WHOLE instead of ourselves. The presence of the Holy Spirit creates us as God’s works! The Psalm today tells us – “may the Lord rejoice in his works! May my thoughts be pleasing to him.” The first reading tells us that those who spoke on behalf of God were “all Galileans.” Yet a great variety of other nationalities were able to “hear, each one of us in our own native language.”

We must work, under the Spirit, to achieve a unity of purpose which will reflect the unity the Spirit brings to the Church.


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