Pentecost Sunday

Lectionary: 63
Hot Air Balloons over Louisville
from St Anthony Church, Clarksville IN
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.

The Catholic should understand that everything we say about God begins in our historical experience. As Saint John wrote in his First Letter:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life — for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us...
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his 1980 book, Introduction to Christianity, explains that the Apostles Creed was created for the Sacrament of Baptism. Converts were baptized according to Jesus' precise instructions, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit," The formula expanded as explanatory words were added and the Creed took shape. Later, the Creed was used for catechesis, to teach the faith; and Christians memorized the "symbol" for daily recitation and devotion. 

In the final section on the Holy Spirit, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains:
In the original Greek text the central statement in the third section of the  Creed runs simply, "I believe in Holy Spirit." The definitive article to which we are accustomed in our translation is thus missing. This is very important for the interpretation of the meaning, for it means that this article [the third part of the Apostles Creed] was first really understood in terms of salvation history, not of the Trinity. In other words, the third section of the Creed refers in the first place, not to the Holy Spirit as the third Person in the Godhead, but to the Holy Spirit as God's gift to history in the community of those who believe in Christ. 
The Holy Spirit is certainly a doctrine of the Church, but it is first of all God's gift to us, a gift which we have discovered, felt, treasured and cherished in our hearts individually and communally. It is an historical experience in that we remember our spiritual ancestors have always been inspired by the Lord Jesus Christ. (The latest generation is always tempted to think, "We have found the Truth at last, and our ancestors knew nothing." The Creed disproves that.)
Get in line for the PowerBall!

If we retain this sense of history in our daily prayer, we feel connected to those inspired men and women who sang the psalms in the Temple of Jerusalem, which we pray daily. We will remember the zeal of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the fidelity of Joseph. We will readily follow Moses, Miriam and Aaron into the Desert of Zin. We will pray with David, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Deborah, Ruth and Judith. All these were inspired by the same Spirit that moves us today. 
Our historical sense of the Spirit binds us to the disciples and saints, including the martyrs, confessors and virgins. 
It also connects us to Christians -- Catholic and Protestant -- all over the world, and especially to those who are suffering persecution for our faith. 
Finally, it promises us an endless future as we see young people caught up in the same dedication and zeal. 
The Spirit of God is the life of God within us. It is the life that will leap up in ecstasy even as our bodies fall back to earth. And, on that Great Getting-up Morning, it is the Voice that will call us by name from the grave to stand joyfully before the Lord when he comes to judge the nations. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.