In today’s scripture, the apostles receive the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity who is often treated like the forgotten man. An analogy I like to use refers to Christmas. Terry and I have hosted Christmas Eve dinner and presents for the entire family for about 40 years. Before us, my mother in our family and her mother in their family and there always seemed to be an unclaimed gift under the tree. Someone who had been expected didn’t show. For me, throughout Christianity, but especially in Catholicism there is a lack of understanding about the role of the Holy Spirit and yet, scripture is quite clear. When the apostles received the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in different languages. They also were covered with tongues of fire. They were filled with zeal and excitement and proclaimed the Glory of God to all who would listen. As Bishop Hermann says in this week’s Review, “they were Baptized in the Spirit.” The Bishop received his Baptism in the Spirit in 1972. I received mine in the fall of 2000.
There is really no way to explain the awesomeness of that moment. In a way, it’s possibly like checking a lottery ticket and realizing you have won. But receiving the Holy Spirit is so much more because it brings the joy of everlasting life. Think about a time when you have shared the joy of your faith with others. You just want to keep talking and experiencing the moment. Now realize the great joy and excitement among the Apostles as they could feel the overwhelming love of God through His Spirit. They had an immediate desire to share their happiness with the gift of tongues, they were able to share the gift of joy and God’s love throughout the world.
But what about us? What does God want of us? We have received the Holy Spirit in our Baptism right after birth and in Confirmation. What makes Baptism in the Spirit different? In Baptism after birth, we receive the graces and connection to the Trinity as a gift of the Church and our parents. In Confirmation, we are part of a group and even though we consent, it is more of the expectation from the Church and our family that we do this. In Baptism in the Spirit, after prayer and due consideration we open our hearts and minds. We want to become one with the Trinity and learn that the Holy Spirit is the way. Just like Mary’s YES, we are now proclaiming our YES. When we open our minds and hearts freely and willingly the Holy Spirit flows in and overwhelms us. Each reception is different; for some less and some more. I personally believe it has to do with how wide we open the door to our heart. If we open the door wide we are overwhelmed. If we are cautious and only peak around the corner of the door, God knows we are not quite ready to receive His whole gift. Let us pray that when the Trinity and the Holy Spirit come that we fear nothing and accept God’s full gift. Receive the Holy Spirit.