For his Gospel reflection for Pentecost, Father Garry Koch focuses on how all should call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance in making decisions. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is depicted in this stained glass image in St. Joseph Church, Millstone Township. File photo
For his Gospel reflection for Pentecost, Father Garry Koch focuses on how all should call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance in making decisions. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is depicted in this stained glass image in St. Joseph Church, Millstone Township. File photo
Gospel reflection for June 5, 2022, The Solemnity of Pentecost

“Come, O Holy Spirit, come.” This refrain resounds through the Sequence which is chanted before the Gospel Acclamation on the Solemnity of Pentecost. We also recite this invocation in all prayers to the Holy Spirit, and even in the Novena of the Miraculous Medal which is prayed in many of our parishes each week.

As with all of the solemnities and feasts of the liturgical year, Pentecost observes an event that has already occurred, and yet we celebrate that which is present, and yet still to come. Since with God all things are eternally present, it is only in our sense of spatial reality that past, present, and future make sense. So, this weekend, as we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost, we are similarly praying that we, too, will be renewed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. 

While the disciples of Jesus have been in the Temple precincts since his Ascension boldly proclaiming the “Good News” it is not until they receive the Holy Spirit that they can more deeply apprehend the great mysteries of which they have been witnesses in the time they spent with Jesus. 

This is true also for us. Faith is a dynamic and not a static reality. One doesn’t possess faith any more than one possesses intelligence, wisdom or truth. Rather we grow faith as we cooperate with God and the awareness of his presence in our lives. 

While none of us have experienced the descent of the Spirit as tongues of fire, nor has Jesus directly breathed on any of us to give us the Spirit, that same Spirit is, nonetheless, constantly present within and around us.

The work of the Church, while always clouded by sin, still remains as the beacon of light bringing that Spirit into the world. 

Cooperating with the Holy Spirit is one of the more challenging experiences of faith. Each one of us has our own fundamental human desires and interests. Each one of us also has our own God-given gifts or charisms, which we are to use for the building up of the Kingdom of God. It is our task as disciples of Jesus to discern one from the other. We do so as we call upon the Holy Spirit to inspire within us the wisdom to understand God’s will in our lives.

This reality is expressed continually in the life of the early Church. The Apostles readily called upon the Holy Spirit to guide them in their decisions and to inspire them to proclaim the Gospel. This same Spirit is also their hope and consolation in the midst of the various struggles, persecutions, and doubts that came with that mission. In short, the apostles knew the Spirit as their constant campion on the journey of faith. 

The same Spirit has walked with the Church throughout our history. Every assembly of the bishops in councils, synods, or meetings seeks first the presence and guidance of the Spirit in their deliberations and decision-making. 

Yet, in our own spiritual lives we are not always comfortable in seeking the intercession of the Holy Spirit. While we seek, and rightfully so, the intercession of the Blessed Mother, and the angels and saints, but we generally overlook the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

This is due, in part, to the suspicion that many Catholics have over the Charismatic and Pentecostalist movements within Christianity. It can be difficult to understand that spirituality from the outside, and it certainly stands in a stark contrast to the quiet repetition of much of Catholic prayer forms. However, one need not observe that prayer style in order to invoke the Holy Spirit. We do celebrate Masses of the Holy Spirit for the opening of academic years, as well as other important events in the life of a community. The red vestments and decoration in our churches this weekend will serve to remind us the flames of fire and boldness in proclamation that comes from receiving the Holy Spirit.

We will also be reminded of the use of red vestments for the feasts of the apostles and the martyrs of the Church, not only in the shedding of their blood, but that they do so in the power of the Spirit who strengthened and comforted them in their walk to their cross. 

On this Pentecost we are invited to open our hearts and souls to the power of the Holy Spirit, so that “enkindled by the fire of his love” we can become the evangelical missionaries that we are called to by virtue of our Baptism.

Father Garry Koch is pastor of St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel.