Sunday Sermon for May 24, 2015, the Solemnity of Pentecost, Year B

Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 15:26-27, 16:12-`15
In the Sequence of today’s Mass we hear the beautiful hymn praying for the Holy Spirit to come and to shed a ray of light divine. We hear about the extraordinary manner of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the first reading where people from all around Jerusalem hear the sound of the strong driving wind. As the people gathered, they were astounded to hear the Apostles preaching in such a way that each listener heard the preaching in his own native tongue.

What we need today is not a spectacular event like the one that took place in Jerusalem 2000 years ago; but what we do need is for an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts and the minds of all people so that they will hear the truth, accept it, and live by it.

This may sound like asking for the impossible, but in the Gospel reading today our Lord tells His disciples that He is going to send the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth. This is the truth taught by the Church and witnessed to by the blood of many martyrs. It sounds equally impossible to think that the fullness of the truth has not only been conveyed to humanity, but that it has remained, incorrupt, for all these generations.

The truth of which we speak is the divine truth, but it is also identified with the very Person of Jesus Christ. There are many people who have tried to water down this truth over the years and many more who have just chosen to ignore the truth. Neither of these things can change the truth because Jesus is God and God cannot change. So, the revelation of the fullness of the truth came through the Holy Spirit and the protection of that truth has been carried out through the Holy Spirit, so why should it be impossible for the Holy Spirit to open the hearts and the minds of people to see and believe the truth He has revealed?

If the Holy Spirit was given to lead us into all truth, why would He be given for the Church as a whole but not to individuals? Each of us needs to be led to the fullness of the truth. Even though the truth is perfectly logical and coherent, none of us came to the full understanding of the truth by our own genius. The only way any of us can accept the truth is by the working of the Holy Spirit. So, if He can work in people like you and me, why can He not work in others who do not know Him or have rejected Him?

Remember when St. Peter first went to the home of the Gentile, Cornelius? They had never heard of the Holy Spirit, but the Paraclete was poured out upon Cornelius and his entire household, even before they were baptized! Our society has become increasingly pagan, so perhaps we can invoke the intercession of Cornelius and his family to beg God to send the Holy Spirit into our world with that ray of divine light.

St. Paul tells us in the second reading that to each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. For all of these people who are supposed to be part of the Mystical Body of Christ but have either fallen away (if they are baptized already) or have no knowledge of this great gift, think of how much is lacking for the whole of the Church. If the Holy Spirit is given individually for the benefit, not only of that individual, but of the whole Church, then we would have to say that much of the trouble we are experiencing today is due to the fact that people are not putting their gifts, which they have received from the Holy Spirit or which He wants to give them, at the service of others. This makes the Church and the world very poor.

The poverty would be fine if it were financial, but the poverty is regarding truth and charity. If each person would open his or her heart to allow the Holy Spirit to manifest His will in their lives, each of us would put forth a ray of divine light which is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our own lives individually. Collectively, all of these rays would cause the world to be flooded in divine light.

Are you willing to allow the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in you? Are you willing to pursue the will of God, embrace the fullness of the truth and live the command to love? We need to pray for an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts and minds of all people. Nothing is impossible for God.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit