|Archbishop José H. Gomez|
This Sunday we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, and the end of the Easter season.
In addition to our Pentecost celebration on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, this year we are also holding a special Mass on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the Cathedral, with all the “ecclesial movements” that represent the beautiful diversity of spiritual gifts in our archdiocese.
So I hope you will be able to join us as we remember the “birthday” of the church in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and rededicate ourselves to our mission as disciples.
Pentecost is a time for all of us to renew our devotion to the Holy Spirit. It is a time for us to open our hearts more fully to the reality of the Spirit in our lives and in our world.
As we know, the Holy Spirit is the gift of God, the personal love of God — poured into our hearts in Baptism, “sealed” and strengthened in us by the sacrament of confirmation, and renewed in us by the Eucharist.
The first Christians talked about being temples of the Holy Spirit, with the Spirit of Christ dwelling in their hearts through faith.
We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us this same awareness that our Christian life is a life that we live with Christ in his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the “soul” of our identity and mission as Christians. So we need to ask the Spirit to strengthen his gifts within us, so that we can carry out our mission.
As we know, in baptism we receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
God gives us the gift of understanding — to enlighten our minds to the beautiful truths of our Christian faith. He gives us the gift of wisdom so that we will seek him above all things and put him “first” in everything that we do.
The gift of knowledge allows us to recognize God’s blessings all around us in his creation. The gift of counsel or good judgment helps us to make the right decisions and to follow God’s commandments.
God also gives us the gift of piety, or reverence, so we can love him with the trusting love of a child. He gives us the gift of courage or fortitude so that we can deal with the challenges and temptations we face in our faith daily.
Finally, the Spirit gives us the gift of fear of the Lord, the gift of wonder and awe at God’s love and power, to help us avoid occasions of sin and temptations caused by our weaknesses.
We need to deepen our awareness of the Spirit’s presence — not only his gifts and actions within our souls, but also his activity all around us in the world.
The world looks different when we realize that God’s Spirit is dwelling within us and is working in the world. When we know this, things take on a different “tone,” we have a new attitude.
The Holy Spirit shows us that there is a richness and a dignity to our human lives. We are children of God! Brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. By his grace we can know his love and friendship. We can be like him.
The Spirit leads us to see the world more clearly, more accurately. We start to see things as Jesus sees them. We start to have his “heart” for the world.
When we are led by the Spirit, we see all the goodness and beauty in the world, we see the image of God in others. We also have a new compassion, a new sense of people’s needs and their sufferings — and our responsibility to love others for God’s sake.
The gifts of the Spirit are given to us for our Christian mission. As the Spirit called the apostles at Pentecost, the Spirit calls each of us today to witness to Jesus. To make Jesus known to others. To announce the good news of his love and salvation — through our deeds and words.
Let’s keep praying for one another this week. Let’s ask the Spirit to help us to respond with love and obedience to all his inspirations in our lives.
Also this weekend, we need to pray in a special way for peace in the Holy Land. Our Holy Father Pope Francis has invited the presidents of Israel and Palestine to the Vatican on Sunday to pray with him for peace.
So let’s ask the Spirit to guide their encounter and strengthen the bonds of unity and friendship among the peoples of the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East.
And let us ask Our Blessed Mother to help make the joy and peace of Pentecost the foundation for the way we act, the way we think, the way we live.
Archbishop José H. Gómez is archbishop of Los Angeles. His weekly column is provided by and appears in The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Reach Archbishop Gomez at (213) 637-7000, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/archbishopgomez.