Dear Friends in Christ,
At Pentecost, the Apostles underwent a kind of baptism. It was as if they cast off their old clothes to be robed anew in the resplendent and radiant white garment of the Holy Spirit. The idea of being clothed in a resplendent and radiant garment reminds us of Christ’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor: ‘And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white’. There is a profound connection between the transfiguration on the mountain and the transformation on Pentecost morning. The Holy Spirit changed and changes everything! The Spirit has and always will astonish, amaze and astound us.
One of the greatest works of the Holy Spirit was the Second Vatican Council. Pope John XXIII, the Council’s prophet and visionary, had an acute sense of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in us all. One of the wonderful fruits of the Council was its teaching documents. As one example, Lumen gentium says the following about the Holy Spirit: ‘Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history…It is not only through the Sacraments and the ministrations of the Church that the Holy Spirit makes holy the people, leads them and enriches them with his virtues. Allotting his gifts according as he will, he also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank… He makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church’. (para 12)
Being filled and renewed in the power of the Spirit is an invitation we cannot refuse. To receive the gift of the Spirit we bow our heads in expectation of God’s blessing. We make this prayer conscious of our sin, weakness and failure, for the Spirit is poured out not when we are strong but when we cry out in need and supplication.