Savoring pentecost in the light of the holy scriptures

The book of the Acts of the Apostles tells us that Paul once encountered a group of unknown Christians in Ephesus. Something must have struck him as odd because he asked them, «Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you began to believe?» The answer was emphatic: «We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.» If Paul were to ask us the same question today, many Christians would have to answer, «I have known since I was a child that there is a Holy Spirit. But I don’t know what it is for; it has no influence on my life. God and Jesus are enough for me». This answer would be sincere, but wrong. The words he has just pronounced were spoken by the Holy Spirit. He has more influence on his life than he imagines. And we know this from the discussions and quarrels among the Christians in Corinth.

The importance of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12,3b-7.12-13)

The Corinthians were specialists in creating conflicts. This is fortunate for us, because thanks to their discussions we have the two letters that Paul wrote to them. The origin of today’s reading is not clear, because the text, in order not to lose the custom, has been mutilated. Anyone who takes the trouble to read chapter 12 of the First Letter to the Corinthians will see what the problem is: some consider themselves superior to others and do not value what others do.

The section deleted in the reading (verses 8-11) describes the situation in Corinth. Some boast of speaking very well in the assemblies; others, of knowing everything important; some stand out for their faith; others manage to perform healings, and there are those who even perform miracles; the most conflictive are those who presume to speak to God in strange tongues, which no one understands, and those who consider themselves capable of interpreting what they say.

Paul begins at the base. There is something that unites them all: faith in Jesus, confessing him as Lord, even though the Roman Caesar claims this title for himself. And they do this thanks to the Holy Spirit. This unity does not exclude diversity of spiritual gifts, activities and functions. But in diversity they must see the action of the Spirit, of Jesus and of God the Father. Following this almost Trinitarian formula, he insists that it is the Spirit who manifests himself in these gifts, activities and functions, which he grants to each one in view of the common good.

Moreover, the Spirit not only gives his gifts, but also unites Christians. Thanks to him, in the community there are no differences based on origin (Jews – Greeks) or social classes (slaves – free).

In short, all that we are and all that we have is the fruit of the Spirit, because it is the way in which the risen Jesus continues to be present among us.


How did the story begin? Two very different versions.

If a Christian with average religious training is asked how and when the Holy Spirit came for the first time, he will most likely refer to the day of Pentecost. And if he has a certain artistic culture, he will remember El Greco’s painting, although he may not have noticed that, next to the Virgin, there is Mary Magdalene, representing the rest of the Christian community (one hundred and twenty people according to Luke).

But there is another version: that of the Gospel of John.

The version of John 20, 19-23

The version offered by the fourth Gospel is very different. In this brief passage we can distinguish four moments: the greeting, the confirmation that it is Jesus who appears, the sending and the gift of the Spirit.

The greeting is the usual one among the Jews: «Peace be with you». But in this case it is not a matter of pure formula, because the disciples, deadly afraid of the Jews, are in great need of peace.

That peace is granted to them by the presence of Jesus, something that seems impossible, because the doors are closed. By showing them his hands and feet, he confirms that it is really him. The signs of suffering and death, the feet and hands pierced by nails, become a sign of salvation, and the disciples are filled with joy.

Everything could have ended here, with peace and joy replacing fear. However, in the apparition narratives, one essential element is never missing: the mission. A mission that culminates God’s plan: the Father sent Jesus, Jesus sends the apostles. [Given the current shortage of priestly and religious vocations, it is not a bad time to recall another passage from John, where Jesus says: «Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The end is a surprising action: Jesus blows on the disciples. The evangelists do not say whether he does it on all of them together or one by one. This detail is unimportant. What is important is the symbolism. In Hebrew, the word ruach can mean «wind» and «spirit». Jesus, by blowing (that reminds of the wind) infuses the Holy Spirit. This gift is closely linked to the mission that has just been entrusted to them. In the course of their activity, the apostles will come into contact with many people; among those who wish to become Christians, it will be necessary to distinguish between those who can be accepted into the community (by forgiving their sins) and those who cannot, at least temporarily (by withholding their sins).




José Luis Sicre


Holy Spirit, You dwell in our hearts and consecrate all that is. Make us your new humanity.

You are the living God, in whom I believe and in whom I hope. You humanize us so that we may commune in your divinity.

I believe in you… God who dawns life in every instant.

I believe in You… God who manifests your power in tenderness and fragility.

I believe in You, God of love who reveals Yourself in a truthful look, in a joyful smile, in tears and sobs, in silence and in embrace.

I believe in You, God who shows Yourself to us in the eyes that dream, in the heart that has been moved, in the open hands, in the willing arms, in the indignant and living face.

I want to live consciously in your presence; in joy and in sorrow, in effort and in fatigue, in certainty and in doubt, in adversity and in celebration, in every birth and in every mourning.

I want to live consciously this present that You are giving me.

With You, through You and in You, I want to be who I am.

I love you and I want you to move me to love others freely. I love you and I want to love with your love, every creature and all Creation.

When I am irritated, soothe me. With whom I am exasperated, make me feel patience and empathy.

Grant me to be a gift and a blessing for the person I meet, whom I already love, grant me to love freely, not to depend or pretend to possess.

May we let ourselves be loved and know how to receive with gratitude from others.

Free us from distrust and fear. Free us from all dependence and addiction, from all lies and tension. Heal us from the blindness that prevents us from realizing that we are united by fraternity.

Deliver us from the compulsive search for individual comfort!

Awaken us to the awareness that we are community. May we passionately yearn for the common good. Enkindle in each person the generosity to give oneself in order to give. May each one take care of others with care.

Fill the hearts of all humanity of You.

Dispel fears and dispel rancor. May we dream with strength the reign of Life.

Holy Spirit, consecrate all creation and make us your new humanity.

Holy Spirit: I know that You dwell in me and that I dwell in You…

Sometimes, I have come to feel it, as if I were more conscious… Sometimes, I have glimpsed to understand it, as if more lucidly… Many times, I neither feel, nor understand, nor even remember that You are in me and that we are in You…. But I believe… I believe in You, Divine Spirit of Creation…

I believe, because I want to believe more and more in Jesus, who revealed to me your living and discreet presence in all that is… I believe, more and more, that it is not about me, nor that I have life, but about You in everything and that You give me the gift of being part of Life.

That is why I want to begin this and every week, this and every day, this and every instant of my history, invoking You and evoking You; I happily accept that you fill my body, my intellect, my affection, and even the most silent part of my spirit!

Thank you for every sensation, for all that I perceive and grasp. Thank you for every feeling and every emotion, for all that I live and express. Thank you for every memory, every idea, every moment of communication. Thank you for every face that dwells in my heart. Thank you for the silence, more and more filled with your Divine Love.

I desire to let myself be moved by your action. I desire to flow, not passively or resignedly but confidently, attentively, happily.

I desire to free myself from every need and desire, to detach and let go, to say «goodbye» without clinging but to know how to give myself and always to love.

I consecrate my being to You, and I want You to fill the people with whom I share this story.

I wish You to reign in all creation and that we may be more and more a humanity conscious of your love that unites without melting, that animates without subduing, that illuminates without dazzling, that gives life by giving itself and without ceasing to love.

Thank you, Holy Spirit! Thank you and amen with all humanity!

Rogelio Cárdenas

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