My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is only eight weeks since I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass, on a number of occasions, in St. Peter’s Basilica. I remember being deeply moved one morning to discover that the Sacristan had allocated to me the altar over the incorrupt body of Blessed Pope John XXIII. When making my preparation for Mass I was reflecting on the many graces that have flowed into the Church because of Blessed John’s courage and leadership – particularly in calling the Second Vatican Council. I remembered reading somewhere that he had said it was time to ‘open the windows’ of the Church and let the wind of the Holy Spirit blow in. In applying that message to my own heart that morning I was deeply conscious of a need for that Holy Spirit. I resolved to dedicate that Mass to asking for a new outpouring of the gift of the Holy Spirit into every soul in the Australian Military Ordinariate. That sincere prayer is repeated today as we celebrate Pentecost.
The story of Pentecost is recalled in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles and part of it is read at our Mass today. If we read a little further beyond the text set down for the Mass we come to a proclamation from St Peter: “The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord God calls to him” (verse 39). The Pentecost event marks the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in fulfilment of the promise of Jesus given to his disciples at the Last Supper. He promised that, when he returned to the Father, he would ask him to send the Advocate to “teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26). In his recent book “Come, Holy Spirit”, Father Cantalamessa reminds us that St. Peter’s words are addressed to all who are seeking to be disciples of Jesus. Today he says to us again – ‘the promise is for you’ – we ourselves are the ‘you’ that he addresses. We are the ones who are called in our turn and so we should have confidence that the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ gift to us in this age. Father Cantalamessa also points out that the important thing about a promise is its fulfilment and our taking possession of it. This depends upon us. There is no need for us to wait. We need to open ourselves to receive the Holy Spirit as a free gift and not as something owed to us or as something we have to earn.
The wind of Pentecost is blowing throughout the Church. This movement of the Holy Spirit in our own day is the single greatest reason for us to have hope. We are called to be disciples of hope in the midst of all the difficulties in proclaiming the Good News in these times. We are encouraged, therefore, to be conscious of the promised gift and to be genuinely open and trusting in receiving it with joy as the disciples to whom it has been promised.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and renew the face of the earth.