We are people filled with the Spirit

Sunday, May 15, 2016

We are people filled with the Spirit

Today is the feast of Pentecost—known as the birthday of the Church.  Sister Diane Bergant,  professor of biblical studies at Catholic Theological Union asks and reflects on a very simple question, “What really happened on that Pentecost day.”  “What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”

“It means that the followers of Jesus were given the power promised by Jesus to further the reign of God that he inaugurated.”

It means that ”the disciples received the Spirit so that they would be able to exercise judgment within the community.  ‘Forgiving and holding back forgiveness of sin’ is a way of expressing complete jurisdiction.”

It means to be filled with “the power of the Spirit that enabled believers publicly to acknowledge their religious allegiance:  ‘Jesus is Lord!”  This was not only a religious profession;  it was also a political proclamation.  It meant:  I choose Jesus, not the emperor.  How many of us are able to stand up for religious values in the face of social or political opposition?  The power of the Spirit enables believers to do so.”

It means that “The Spirit of God took hold of the first disciples with a force like a mighty wind, and they were set on fire with zeal for the reign of God.”  Each one who received the Spirit was given a certain charisma, a certain manifestation of the spirit, a certain gift to perform different forms of service or different workings or different expressions of power.   As baptized and confirmed Christians, we too have been seized by that same Spirit’  we too have been given gifts meant for service to others.”

Sister Diane reminds us that this feast “calls us out from behind the locked doors, where, like the disciples in the Gospel reading, we may be hiding for fear of others.  It is the feast that reminds us that we are indeed people filled with the Spirit, people with gifts that the world needs so desperately:  wisdom for a world searching for meaning, knowledge for a world seeking insight, healing for a world torn apart by violence, prophecy for a world in need of direction, discernment of spirits for a world confronted by competing forces.”

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