By Engr. Carlos V. Cornejo
The Feast of the Pentecost which we celebrated last Sunday, was an ancient Jewish thanksgiving celebration in the Old Testament, in gratitude to God for the yearly harvest about to be reaped. It was celebrated fifty days after the feast of the Passover. The word “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word “pentekoste” which means fifty days. The Passover however commemorates the Biblical story of Exodus, when God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
In the New Testament and in the Catholic Church, the Feast of the Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. The event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostles along with a number of disciples. It is celebrated fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ. “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” (Acts 2:1-4) Speaking in other tongues was the tangible first gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles so that they could spread the Gospel to all nations, speaking in different languages.
We are now in the era of the Holy Spirit until the end of the world. The work of the First Person of the Blessed Trinity who is God the Father was Creation, while that of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in Jesus Christ was Redemption. Both tasks have been accomplished already and the tasks left is Sanctification or making the entire humanity holy, it is assigned to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit makes our spirit alive in us. We have to be aware that we are not just body and soul but we also have a spirit. As St. Paul would tell us in his letter to the Thessalonians, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23) Our body gives us sense consciousness, through our sense of sight, touch, sound, taste and smell, we are able to perceive nature, the light of the sun, the smell of the flowers, the taste of food, etc. Our soul on the other hand, gives us a reason consciousness. We make concepts, judgments and conclusions from knowledge we acquire through science, arts, culture, etc. Our sense of consciousness (awareness of being alive and thinking) is also from our soul. Consciousness is not from our brains but from our soul, because scientists have found out through experiments that brains form only images from our senses but can’t find the image of consciousness in our brains. Therefore, our brains are just instruments to know the world but our soul makes the choices, reasoning and judgments. And lastly the spirit in us is our God- consciousness or our capacity to know and love God.
When we are in state of mortal sin (big sins) the spirit in us dies. It can only come alive again if we regain the state of grace. To recover that state of grace we need to have our big sins forgiven by God through a priest in the Sacrament of Confession. In other words, the spirit is “the soul that is in the state of grace” or the soul that is in the state of communion with God or when God is in our soul. And we should let that state of grace grow in us through avoidance of sins, prayer, regular Mass and confession. The Holy Spirit will then pour out his gifts in us, makes us fit for heaven and be happy here on earth and happy in the next life. “Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. And I warned you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:19-22)