Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Pentecost, The Paraclete Arrives, Birthday of The Church
Volume 7 No. 419 June 2, 2017
III. Reflections: Pentecost, The Arrival of The Paraclete

Pentecost Homily

by Fr. Robert Altier

Gospel: St. John 14:15-16, 23b-26
Scripture: Acts 2:1-11, Romans 8:8-17

Today the Church celebrates the solemnity of Pentecost. The word Pentecost means "fifty days", so today is fifty days after the Resurrection of Our Blessed Lord and it is the fulfillment of His work. Not only did He rise from the dead and ascend into glory, but now He has fulfilled the promise to send the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to give to us everything that we need, to fill us with the truth, to lead us into all truth, to provide us with divine life, and to bring us to the glory of heaven. There is nothing lacking at this point; we have absolutely everything we need. The only question now is on our part: Are we willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit?

We hear in the Gospel reading, as well as from Saint Paul's Letter to the Romans (Rom 8:8-17), that God has sent His Spirit into our hearts. In the Gospel reading, we hear about the indwelling of the Holy Trinity. If we are in the state of grace, God Himself dwells within us. Remember that wherever one Person of God happens to be, all Three are present because there is no separating the Persons in God.

Therefore, if the Holy Spirit is present within us, so are the Father and the Son. We are temples of the Lord; we are the dwelling place of God. And through the power of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us, we have all the grace necessary to be able to live according to the fullness of truth.

The gift of the Holy Spirit given to us at Baptism allows each and every one of us to live an heroic Christian life. In this day and age, that is exactly what is necessary. We have to live heroic lives, lives of heroic virtue. The times that are soon to come upon the world are going to require that we are living our faith to its fullest because that is the only possible way anyone is going to make it. We recall Our Lord speaking about that time and He says, If the time were not shortened, even the elect would fall astray. But it is through the Holy Spirit that we will have the grace necessary to be able to live through that time, that we will be able to maintain our faith, our hope, and our charity.

We have the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that have been given to us to enlighten our minds and to strengthen our wills. There is nothing lacking, but the problem is twofold. One, the Holy Spirit has pretty much been ignored or forgotten over the centuries, at least in common practice and devotion, even though in the Church He has been anything but forgotten. We know it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that forgiveness of sin comes about; that is part of the prayer of absolution in Confession. We know also that it is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the bread and wine at Mass are transformed into the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In the part of the Mass that we call the epiclesis, as the priest places his hands over the chalice and over the bread, he calls upon the Holy Spirit to come down upon these gifts in order to turn them into the very Body and Blood of the Son of God Himself. The Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of the Church, is the spirit of Jesus Christ; and the Church is Jesus Christ, so the Holy Spirit animates the Church. The Holy Spirit is the life of the Church. And so the Holy Spirit is not forgotten by the Church, but has been forgotten by the vast majority of people, at least in common devotion.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have those who want to call upon the Holy Spirit; and many are doing so in very good manner, cooperating with the Holy Spirit so that the gifts of the Spirit are very much at work. But then there is another element that is calling on a spirit looking for extraordinary things to happen. In the vast majority of those situations, it is not the Holy Spirit who is at work, but rather a very unholy spirit who can also provide lots of miraculous things. One can look, for instance, at the first reading and ask the question, "If the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles so they went out and spoke in various tongues, why don't we see that now?" The fact is that we do. The truth is spoken in every single tongue around the world. The apostles needed to be able to speak so that all the people who were there would hear the truth spoken in their own language. Today the Church is spread throughout the world, and therefore the truth is still spoken in every language of humanity, not necessarily by one individual, but rather by the Church. And so the Holy Spirit continues to spread the truth. The Holy Spirit is given to us to lead us into all truth and to remind us of all the things that Our Lord has taught us, and that is done in and through the Church.

One could ask, "Why don't we see the extraordinary things happening?" But we do. What more extraordinary things do we want when we have the forgiveness of sin, we have the consecration at Mass, and we have the sacraments? The most extraordinary things in the world are happening right within our own souls, but because we do not always see the external manifestations, we begin to doubt the reality that the Holy Spirit is at work, or perhaps we have just simply forgotten. It is true that the Holy Spirit even today continues to pour Himself out in extraordinary ways. There are people who are able to speak in various tongues. There are people who are miracle workers. There are people who can do extraordinary things by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is not going to be everybody; it is those whom God has chosen to do those things. But each and every one of us has the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is going to work within each one of us according to God's own providence and according to our own states in life. The Holy Spirit is going to lead us into the fullness of truth.

Now if we do not want that fullness of truth, what we have done is to reject the Holy Spirit Whom God has given to us. If we do not want to be perfectly united with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is there but we are keeping Him at an arm's distance and saying, in essence, "No, thank you. It's nice of You to offer, but I know better. I have a better way of doing things. I don't need any help; I can do it all by myself." Good luck. The Holy Spirit was given for a reason – and it is because we cannot do it by ourselves. But the problem for most of us is not that we think we can do it by ourselves; the problem for most of us is that we do not want it. We do not want union with Jesus Christ, because if we did, we would have to change our lives, we would have to be living truly holy lives, we would have to be immersed in prayer, we would have to do things very differently than the way we do in our day-to-day lives. And I think if we were truly honest with ourselves, most of us would have to say, "I don't want to do that." What a tragic statement. It is a rejection of the gift of God.

So what we need to find is where that true middle ground is, to seek the Holy Spirit, to ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts. That beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit, part of which we heard in the responsorial psalm and part of which we heard in the alleluia verse – Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love; send forth Thy spirit and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth – we need to pray that prayer. We need to be willing to open our hearts, to let the Holy Spirit fill us with the fire of the love of God, with the zeal for serving God, with a true desire for holiness, and with the willingness to do whatever God wants us to do.

Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, when he talks about the latter times and talks about the apostles of the latter times which are soon to be upon us, says of these apostles that they will be blown by the Holy Spirit wherever He wills just as clouds are blown aloft upon the winds. All you need to do is ask yourself, "Am I willing to do that? Am I willing to do whatever God wants, just to drop everything and go? Am I willing to go wherever He wants me to go, whenever He wants me to go?" It is not an easy thing. Read the prophets and you will find that God would ask them to go different places and do different things that are not easy. Look at the Holy Family. God did not wait until morning to wake up Saint Joseph and tell him that it was time to go to Egypt – it was in the middle of the night! And he got up immediately, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and went. We realize that, if we are going to follow the Holy Spirit, He is going to lead us on the perfect path – but not necessarily on the path we would have chosen if it were up to our own selves. So we really need to ask, "Am I willing? Do I want it?"

We have been baptized into Jesus Christ, and therefore we have already vowed to God that this is what we are going to do. But now the Lord is leaving it up to us to make the act of the will. We are not on our own to do it, but God is not going to force us either. The Holy Spirit has been given to us and we need to cooperate. And God continues to ask the question. It is not going to be enough just to go to prayer one day and say, "Okay, Lord, do with me whatever You want." That is a very good prayer, and the Lord is going to take you up on it, but because He will never violate your dignity, every time He is going to do something, He is going to ask you, Are you willing to accept this? Are you willing to do this? And we have to continue to respond over and over and over again, "Yes, Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word," as Our Blessed Lady said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

It is beyond us by ourselves; it is not beyond us with the help of the Holy Spirit. But we have to answer the first question: Are we willing? … Are we willing? The only way we are ever going to be able to do it is through prayer. We need to be deeply immersed in prayer because the things that God is going to ask of us have to be first of all discerned, because the unholy spirit is going to present lots of things to you as well. The devil is going to try to keep you very busy so that you do not have time to pray. He is going to give you lots and lots of very good things to do just to keep you from doing what God wants you to do. It is easy, looking on the natural level, to say, "I must be doing God's Will because everything I'm doing is good. How could God be displeased with what I'm doing, everything is good?" But God could be looking at you, saying, But I'm asking you to do something different, and we respond, "But what I'm doing is good; it must be Your Will." You see, the only way we are going to know is if we pray. If we seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in prayer, He will teach us what we need to know. He will help us to be able to discern what is of God and what is not. He will enlighten our minds and our hearts so that we will be drawn into the very love of God Himself and be willing to do whatever God wants us to do. No matter how ordinary or extraordinary it might seem to us, it matters not; the only thing that matters is that we are doing God's Will, that we are on the path that is going to lead us into the very heart of Jesus Christ and into eternity with Christ.

The only way we are going to be led along that path is through the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spouse of our Blessed Lady. With the two of them leading us, we cannot go wrong. But if we choose to do it our own way, then we are like a ship that has lost its compass and is blown around on the winds; it has no direction. The Holy Spirit has been poured forth into our hearts so that we can cry out, "Abba! Father!" If we are going to call God our Father, we also have to live the life that is required of us, to be children of God, members of Christ, heirs of heaven, and all that follows from it. All of those things are given to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, Who has been poured forth into our hearts.

It is time that we let the guard down, that we quit pushing the Holy Spirit out, but rather that we open our hearts and allow Him entrance into the very depths of our being so that we will be able to live according to the ways of God, so that we will know and do the Will of God, and that we will be willing to do anything God asks of us. That is a scary proposition for most of us, but just keep in mind that God only wants the very best. And if God only wants the best for you, there is nothing at all to fear. God loves you perfectly; He is perfectly merciful. He is not going to ask anything of you other than what is the very best. That might be the cross, but if the cross is the perfect way to heaven then that is what He is going to ask. And so, we need to get down on our knees and we need to beg the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and to give us the grace to say "yes" to God, to truly be children of God, to live according to the ways of God, and allow those gifts of the Holy Spirit to work within us. Not necessarily to speak in foreign tongues or to do extraordinary things, but to do the greatest thing of all; that is, to embrace the truth and to live the truth in the love of the Holy Spirit.

The Helper: The Paraclete of Pentecost

by The Rev. Charles Henrickson

Gospel: John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15

[Jesus said:] "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. . . .

"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."
- John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

"To You, O Paraclete, we raise / Unending songs of thanks and praise."

Did you catch that last line of the hymn? And did you wonder who or what this "Paraclete" was? Well, it seems to be a reference to the Holy Spirit, because earlier in that stanza we've been praising the Father and the Son, so this must be the Holy Spirit. But why call the Holy Spirit "Paraclete"? Is that because the Spirit came down in the form of a parakeet at Jesus' baptism? No, wait, that was a dove, not a parakeet. And besides, this is "Paraclete," not "parakeet."

Alright, so what in the world is a "Paraclete"? Well, if you noticed the fine print at the bottom of the page of that hymn, Hymn 500, you saw that there was this explanation: "‘Paraclete,' another name for the Holy Spirit, comes from the Greek, meaning 'comforter' or ‘counselor.'" And so it is. "Comforter," "counselor," "advocate"--these are all ways the Greek word "Paraclete" can be translated. Or, as the term occurs in the Holy Gospel for today, there the word "Paraclete" is translated as "Helper." Jesus uses this term "Paraclete" several times to tell the disciples he is going to send them the "Helper."

That's what this day, the Day of Pentecost, is all about: It's about the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ sending the Paraclete, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to the church, to help the church, to help us Christians, in several ways. So let's find out how, as we now consider our theme, "The Helper: The Paraclete of Pentecost."

How the Holy Spirit will be our Helper, that's what I want to point out today, three ways in particular on this Pentecost morning, and they are these:

1) The Helper, the Holy Spirit, will go alongside us.

2) The Helper, the Holy Spirit, will glorify Jesus. And

3) the Helper, the Holy Spirit, will guide us into all the truth.

Go alongside us, glorify Jesus, guide us into all the truth.

So first, then, the Holy Spirit will go alongside us. In the Holy Gospel reading, from John chapters 15 and 16, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to send them the Holy Spirit very soon. And really, this is part of a longer discourse, extending from chapter 14 through chapter 16, the so-called Upper Room Discourse, where Jesus tells the disciples that he is going away, that he is about to return to the Father. This causes the disciples some distress, hearing that their Master is about to leave them. But Jesus reassures them that this is actually for their good, his going away, and that he will not leave them comfortless. And a big part of that reassurance and comfort is that he will send them the Holy Spirit, who will be with them and go alongside them.

This begins back in chapter 14, where Jesus tells them: "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth." And this is the first place where we find the term "Paraclete" to refer to the Holy Spirit. It's translated here as "Helper," but it could also be translated as "Comforter," "Counselor," or "Advocate." And this word "paraclete" in the Greek means "someone who is called alongside of you." The idea is like you call over to someone and say, "Hey, could you come over here and give me a little help?" And then that person comes alongside you and goes with you to be your helper. That is what a "paraclete" was in the ancient world. And this is what Jesus says the Holy Spirit will be for the disciples--and, by extension, for us. He will be our Paraclete, our Helper.

And notice, when Jesus says he is going away, going to the Father, he says that he will send them "another Helper." Did you catch that? "Another" Helper. Well, if the Holy Spirit is going to be "another" Helper, another Paraclete, then who was the first one? Why, it was Jesus himself. He had been a Paraclete, a Helper walking alongside the disciples, for the past few years. And think of it: Jesus had been that for them, going with them, helping them, teaching them, guiding them, all of that--that is what Jesus had meant to the disciples during their time together. So now when Jesus says that he is going away, but that he will send them "another" Paraclete, another Helper--Jesus is saying that that is how the Holy Spirit will help them, in other words, like Jesus did.

So it was for the disciples. And so it is and will be for us also. The Holy Spirit is with us. The Holy Spirit will go with us, throughout our lives, to keep us in the Christian faith, to guard and guide us, to sanctify us and help us grow as Christians. The Holy Spirit, whom Christ poured out on the church on the Day of Pentecost--the Holy Spirit was given to each one of us on the day of our baptism. That was our own personal Pentecost, when we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit will go with you, as your Paraclete, your Helper, the rest of the way on your Christian journey. Thanks be to God!

The Holy Spirit will go with us. Secondly, the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus. Jesus said that in our text, didn't he? He said, "He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." Or again, "He will bear witness about me." See, that's the Holy Spirit's job, if you will, to shine the light on Jesus, to glorify Christ. You know, sometimes we might wonder why the Bible doesn't say too much about the Holy Spirit, certainly not nearly as much as we read about Jesus. But you know what? That's just fine with the Holy Spirit. He wants Jesus to get that kind of attention. The Holy Spirit wants people to look upon Jesus and be saved.

I've heard this comparison made: It's like your car is out somewhere in a big parking lot at the shopping mall. But it's night, it's dark out, and you don't know where to find it. So somebody comes alongside you, with a flashlight, and leads you to your car, shining the light on it, not on himself. So you see the car, but you don't notice the person holding the flashlight, even though you couldn't have found the car without the person holding the flashlight.

That's kind of how it is with the Holy Spirit. We don't notice him much, but all the while he's pointing the flashlight at Jesus, so we can see our Savior clearly and find him, so to speak. It's like we say in the Catechism: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel," and so on. In other words, the Holy Spirit will glorify Jesus, point us to him, lead us to him, and cause us to trust in Christ our Savior. That's what the Helper, the Paraclete, does.

Which is so wonderful, isn't it! How we need Christ our Savior! How we need to know Christ and believe in him and trust in him! For without faith in Christ we would be lost. Christ Jesus, the Son of God, came down from heaven for us men and for our salvation. And he won that salvation by dying on the cross for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, so that we would be forgiven of our sins. Christ has purchased our redemption, our freedom from condemnation and death and damnation, and won for us our justification and life and eternal salvation, as evidenced by his own resurrection and ascension into heaven.

But all of these things that Christ has won for us would be of no benefit to us if we did not know of Christ and come to faith in him. And that's where the Holy Spirit comes in. The Holy Spirit works though the means of grace, the preaching and teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, in order to bring us to faith in Christ and to keep us strong in that faith till the day we die.

Which leads us to our third point: The Holy Spirit will guide us into all the truth. Again, that's what Jesus told the disciples: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come."

The Spirit of truth will guide you into all the truth. You know, we live in a world today where nobody seems to be sure that there is such a thing as truth. Truth, we're told, is whatever happens to be true for you. That's your truth, and that's just fine. Truth becomes relative. But that is all so subjective and shaky and uncertain. The actual truth is, there is such a thing as objective truth. Absolute truth. Truth is whatever God says in his Word is truth. That's what we can be sure of. That's what is certain and firm and we can build our lives on, namely, God's Holy Word.

So if you want to know how things really stand between God and man; if you want to know what is right and wrong in this world from God's perspective, which is the only one that counts; if you want to know the things that are to come, where this world is headed--then the one place to find that out is in God's Word. And the Helper, the Holy Spirit, will guide you into that truth. He will open the Scriptures for you. As you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as you continue to come to church and Bible class and grow in your understanding of God's Word, it will be the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who will be guiding you into all the truth.

So today, dear friends, on this great festival day, the Day of Pentecost, we celebrate and rejoice in the fact that Christ has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is our Helper, the Spirit is. And today we've looked at how he helps us in these three ways:

The Holy Spirit will go alongside us.
He will glorify Jesus.
And he will guide us into all the truth.

And to this we say: "To You, O Paraclete, we raise / Unending songs of thanks and praise."

A Mighty Wind: Reflections on Pentecost Sunday

by Scott Hahn, Ph.D

Readings: Acts 2:1-11, Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34, 1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13
Gospel: John 20:19-23

The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God's chosen people, in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In today's First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).

The Spirit seals the new law and new covenant brought by Jesus, written not on stone tablets but on the hearts of believers, as the prophets promised (see 2 Corinthians 3:2-8; Romans 8:2).

The Spirit is revealed as the life-giving breath of the Father, the Wisdom by which He made all things, as we sing in today's Psalm. In the beginning, the Spirit came as a "mighty wind" sweeping over the face of the earth (see Genesis 1:2). And in the new creation of Pentecost, the Spirit again comes as "a strong, driving wind" to renew the face of the earth.

As God fashioned the first man out of dust and filled him with His Spirit (see Genesis 2:7), in today's Gospel we see the New Adam become a life-giving Spirit, breathing new life into the Apostles (see 1 Corinthians 15:45,47).

Like a river of living water, for all ages He will pour out His Spirit on His body, the Church, as we hear in today's Epistle (see also John 7:37-39).

We receive that Spirit in the sacraments, being made a "new creation" in Baptism (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). Drinking of the one Spirit in the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 10:4), we are the first fruits of a new humanity—fashioned from out of every nation under heaven, with no distinctions of wealth or language or race, a people born of the Spirit.

Newness, Harmony and Mission - Reflections on Pentecost

by Pope Francis

Today we contemplate and re-live in the liturgy the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sent by the risen Christ upon his Church; an event of grace which filled the Upper Room in Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world.

But what happened on that day, so distant from us and yet so close as to touch the very depths of our hearts? Luke gives us the answer in the passage of the Acts of the Apostles which we have heard (2:1-11). The evangelist brings us back to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room where the apostles were gathered. The first element which draws our attention is the sound which suddenly came from heaven "like the rush of a violent wind", and filled the house; then the "tongues as of fire" which divided and came to rest on each of the apostles. Sound and tongues of fire: these are clear, concrete signs which touch the apostles not only from without but also within: deep in their minds and hearts. As a result, "all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit", who unleashed his irresistible power with amazing consequences: they all "began to speak in different languages, as the Spirit gave them ability". A completely unexpected scene opens up before our eyes: a great crowd gathers, astonished because each one heard the apostles

In the light of this passage from Acts, I would like to reflect on three words linked to the working of the Holy Spirit: newness, harmony and mission.

1. Newness always makes us a bit fearful, because we feel more secure if we have everything under control, if we are the ones who build, programme and plan our lives in accordance with our own ideas, our own comfort, our own preferences. This is also the case when it comes to God. Often we follow him, we accept him, but only up to a certain point. It is hard to abandon ourselves to him with complete trust, allowing the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. We fear that God may force us to strike out on new paths and leave behind our all too narrow, closed and selfish horizons in order to become open to his own. Yet throughout the history of salvation, whenever God reveals himself, he brings newness and change, and demands our complete trust: Noah, mocked by all, builds an ark and is saved; Abram leaves his land with only a promise in hand; Moses stands up to the might of Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom; the apostles, huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, go forth with courage to proclaim the Gospel. This is not a question of novelty for novelty's sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day. The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfilment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good. Let us ask ourselves: Are we open to "God's surprises"? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God's newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

2. A second thought: the Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charisms and gifts; yet all this, by his working, is a great source of wealth, for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean uniformity, but which leads everything back to harmony. In the Church, it is the Holy Spirit who creates harmony. One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – "Ipse harmonia est". Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselve be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church. Journeying together in the Church, under the guidance of her pastors who possess a special charism and ministry, is a sign of the working of the Holy Spirit. Having a sense of the Church is something fundamental for every Christian, every community and every movement. It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous! When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church's teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Jn 9). So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?

3. A final point. The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. The Holy Spirit draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself; he impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission. The events that took place in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago are not something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us. The Pentecost of the Upper Room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures. The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of the risen Christ to his apostles, yet he wants that gift to reach everyone. As we heard in the Gospel, Jesus says: "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to remain with you forever" (Jn 14:16). It is the Paraclete Spirit, the "Comforter", who grants us the courage to take to the streets of the world, bringing the Gospel! The Holy Spirit makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ. Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?

Today's liturgy is a great prayer which the Church, in union with Jesus, raises up to the Father, asking him to renew the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May each of us, and every group and movement, in the harmony of the Church, cry out to the Father and implore this gift. Today too, as at her origins, the Church, in union with Mary, cries out: "Veni, Sancte Spiritus! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!" Amen.

Source: Radio Vaticana

The Temple of God

by Linton Smith

Today is Pentecost Sunday. On this day we remember how the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Jesus.. probably about 120 of them.. in Jerusalem.. probably in the Temple courts.

Many call this day the birthday of the church because it was the day God the Holy Spirit came to live among His people, came to live in His new Temple, the Church.

How can we say that? Let's look at some background..

About 1,500 years before this day God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them to Mt Sinai. There He gave instructions to Moses to build a tabernacle of wooden poles and animal skins.

It was built.. and then we read..

Exodus 40:34,35.. Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Some 500 years after this the Israelites were living in peace and prosperity. Solomon was their king. He built a glorious temple of stone to replace the tabernacle.

Then we read..

2 Chronicles 5:13,14.. Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.

Almost a 1,000 years later.. Jesus was born.

John writes.. John 1:14.. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory..

He made His dwelling among us.. or tabernacled among us.

The presence of God had been focused in the tabernacle and then the temple.. Now His presence was focused in Jesus!

Jesus was God in human form. Those who saw Him, saw God. Those who heard Him, heard God. He died on a wooden cross to bear the sins of the whole human race.. was buried.. was raised.. ascended to the Father.

Then He sent the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 2:1-4 we read.. 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.

The Holy Spirit of God came to live among God's people.

The presence of God was now focused.. not in the tabernacle.. or the temple of stone.. or the person of Jesus.. but in believers.. in the Church.

Now the Church is the temple!

About 20 years after Pentecost the believers in Corinth were behaving badly.

Paul wrote to them..

1 Corinthians 3:16,17.. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

About 5 years later he wrote to the believers in Ephesus..

Ephesians 2:21,22.. In him [Jesus] the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

The people of God.. believers.. born again people.. are the dwelling place of God,

His Temple. The presence of God is now focused there!

What a thought! Believers are the Temple of the Living God. He lives among believers by His Spirit.. when they are scattered.. when they are together.

We are gathered here today as a group of believes. He is here today.. in His Temple, in us! We are gathered in a building, but it would be just the same if we gathered down by the river!

Today.. let's ponder this amazing truth.

Paul puts it so powerfully.

God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

When we take this in.. feel the enormity of it.. we will respond with..


King Solomon found it hard to comprehend that God would somehow dwell in the temple he had built. He says in..

2 Chronicles 6:18.. But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!

What a valid question that is! The Creator of the Universe.. the One the Universe cannot contain.. how can He dwell in a Temple of stone. There is no way it can contain Him. Solomon is caught up in the wonder of it all..

Wonder.. similar to the wonder David expresses in
Psalm 8:3,4.. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

God.. the Creator of the heavens.. is mindful of people like us.. cares for them. We can add.. He is so mindful of us that He came among us in the Person of Jesus.. and suffered and died for us.. to deal with our sin and guilt.. and now He has come among us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. He lives among us!

Ponder that.. take it in.. and we will respond with wonder!

God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

When we take this in.. feel the enormity of it.. we will respond with..


Solomon had seen the glory of the LORD fill the Temple he had built.. he then addressed the huge crowd gathered there for the occasion.. and prayed.

Then we read..

2 Chronicles 7:1-3.. When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.”

All the Israelites fell on their faces.. in awe.. and gave thanks to God!

The very first believers in Jesus responded in a similar way on the day of Pentecost.. when God the Holy Spirit came to live among them..

Acts 2:43,46,47.. Everyone was filled with awe.. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God..

Ponder it.. take it in.. and we will respond like that, too!

God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

When we take this in.. feel the enormity of it.. we will respond with..


King Solomon and his people had been part of something truly amazing that day when they dedicated the Temple of stone. Eventually Solomon dismissed them.

We read in..

2 Chronicles 7:10.. He sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in heart for the good things the LORD had done for David and Solomon and for his people Israel.

Try to imagine how these people felt. They had seen such amazing things. As they headed home their minds will have been filled with this thought.. God is among us.. now we can face anything.. we have nothing to fear.. there are great days ahead.

They headed home with joyful optimism!

We can face life with even greater joy.. greater optimism. God lives among us.. in us!

Listen to Paul again..

Ephesians 2:21,22.. In him [Jesus] the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

A dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit! No wonder he says in..

Ephesians 3:20,21.. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ponder it.. take it in.. and we also will respond with joyful optimism!

God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

When we take this in.. feel the enormity of it.. we will respond with..


The joyful optimism of the Israelites went astray. It developed into a false confidence.. God is with us no matter what.. we can live how we like.. The Temple is here.. all will be well. The prophets tried to wake them up.

Jeremiah was one who challenged them. He said..

Jeremiah 7:3.. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!”

When Solomon had completed the Temple of stone.. and it had been dedicated.. God warned him about this. He said to him..

2 Chronicles 7:13,14.. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

When I shut up the heavens. When.. not if. He will do it.. because the people will drift away..

But God will receive them if they turn back. What does God expect?

That they humble themselves.. and pray.. and seek Him.. and turn from their wicked ways..

God is asking for wholehearted devotion!

That is what God expected of them. He expects the same of us! That is the only reasonable way for us to respond to the great and awesome God whom the Universe cannot contain.. who lives among us!

The Apostle Paul has some very challenging things to say..

2 Corinthians 6:16, 7:1.. We are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” .. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

We may not like to hear these words.. but we must hear them.

We are the Temple of God! Almighty God lives among us!

Let's take it in and respond with wholehearted devotion to God.

That is how the first believers responded on the day of Pentecost.

In Acts 2:42 we read.. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

They could do that.. because in their hearts.. they were sold out to God.

Let's be like them!

Ponder these things.. that Almighty God.. in the Person of the Holy Spirit.. lives among us..

and respond with wonder.. awe and thanksgiving.. joyful optimism.. wholehearted devotion to God.

Respond now.. or go home and ponder these amazing things.. and let God move you!


Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011-2019 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.