I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Pentecost unleashes the Holy Spirit on the whole Church

Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles on Easter Sunday night was the beginning of a worldwide revolution to lead His faithful followers to eternal glory. On that night, Jesus unleashed upon the apostles, and eventually the whole world, the fruits of His passion, death and Resurrection. He unleashed God's awesome power of love to confront man's sinfulness and the forces of hell.

If you feel a conflict inside of you, rejoice because it's the Holy Spirit clashing with lesser forces of sin and the kingdom of darkness. You have the privilege of being a part of the revolution of Jesus and His Father overcoming the world of darkness. If this revolution has grasped your heart, rejoice!

On that famous night when the disciples were locked in the upper room, the Risen Lord, whom they had abandoned, appeared to these guilt-ridden apostles and twice said to them, "Peace be with you."

He didn't promise them freedom from suffering, but rather victory over sin and darkness. This was the message they were to preach to the world. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." He then "breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.'"

In other words, these guilt-ridden apostles not only were forgiven for their desertion of Him in His agony and crucifixion, but they were commissioned to preach the good news of forgiveness of sin to the whole world.

His work of preaching and healing hadn't come to an end, but to a new beginning. From now on, He will be present in all of His followers with the same power they saw Him exercise in His ministry with them.

This powerful action of the Holy Spirit takes a gigantic step forward on the day of Pentecost, when the same Holy Spirit Jesus conferred on the apostles on Easter Sunday night is unleashed upon the larger Church.

"When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house... Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim."

In the wake of Christ's passion, death and resurrection, the Spirit of God is released in the hearts of His followers. "They were astonished, and in amazement they asked, 'Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?...They were all astounded and bewildered and said to one another, 'What does this mean?' But others said, scoffing, 'They have had too much new wine.'"

Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, commented on this passage in his book "Sober Intoxication of the Spirit." He quotes Cyril of Jerusalem as saying: "They are not drunk in the way you might think. They are indeed drunk, but with the sober intoxication, which kills sin and gives life to the heart and which is the opposite of physical drunkenness. Drunkenness makes a person forget what he knows, this kind, instead, brings understanding of things that were not formerly known. They are drunk insofar as they have drunk the wine of that mystical vine which affirms, 'I am the vine, you are the branches'" (John 15:5).

I don't believe anyone in the Church today is more articulate in explaining the gifts of the Holy Spirit — with the exception of Pope Francis — than Father Cantalamessa. He's written more than 20 books on the gifts. They are simple, but profound and edifying.

You and I have received the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but we haven't necessarily received the release of these gifts. There is no reason that you and I can't experience what the early disciples experienced.

One of the ways for preparing for a fuller release of the many gifts the Lord wishes to give us, is to attend a Life in the Spirit Seminar. These seminars are powerful and life giving. (For a schedule of these seminars, visit www.stlouisreview.com/ba1 or contact the archdiocesan Catholic Renwal Center.)

You might also pray a simple prayer such as the following: Lord, I do not like myself the way I am. I surrender my life totally to you. I ask you to take me as I am, purify me and fill me with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of tongues!

Say this prayer sincerely every day, longing for all His gifts, and begin to watch what happens in your life. You'll begin to see Christ working in your daily life, even in the midst of trials and disappointments. You'll get a sense that there is a presence with you, in spite of a momentary hardship or trial. Your former joy will return to you more quickly. You may find a hunger to read the Scriptures as God's love letters to you.

You will also discover a deeper desire for daily prayer, which may include reflecting on the psalms, which now suddenly make so much sense, because they explain what is going on inside of you. Welcome home: The new life in the Spirit has everything the world couldn't offer. 

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