Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Come, Holy Spirit! Today the Church throughout the world calls out to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity as we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, the day on which the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room with the Blessed Virgin Mary, inspiring them to speak the truth of the Gospel in many tongues. On this day, the Church is born into her missionary role. And so this feast is a day for us to once again cry out for the Holy Spirit to fall upon us and make us faithful missionaries in the world.
In the Jewish calendar, the feast of Pentecost celebrated the end of the wheat harvest. Fifty days after the sheaf of barley was offered during Passover, the wheat—the last of the cereal crops to mature—was harvested. Marking Pentecost was a joyful occasion. Some Jewish scholarly authorities referred to the time between Passover and Pentecost as the “courting days of the bridegroom of Israel with the bride Torah.” We are now concluding our own observance of the time between Passover and Pentecost— the time between the Passion of Jesus, the bridegroom of the Church, offered in sacrifice just as the Passover lamb was offered in sacrifice, his Resurrection and appearances to the Apostles. This has been a season of the bridegroom courting the bride. Jesus has again and again come to the Apostles, reassuring them, teaching them, demonstrating his love. Now with the feast of Pentecost, Jesus sends them out to proclaim the Gospel, just as the “bride Torah” proclaimed God’s holy word to the Israelites.
We have heard Jesus say that the harvest is ripe and to pray for laborers for the harvest. Pentecost, the feast of the ripened wheat, reminds us that the harvest is ready. The Holy Spirit sends the Apostles out to labor for the harvest. On that first day, they baptize three thousand! Truly the harvest is ripe and ready! This joyful occasion, though, is not some isolated moment in history. Rather, the Holy Spirit sends us out as well to labor for the joy of the harvest. You and I are sent to proclaim the Gospel as the Apostles did; you and I are sent to continue the courtship of Christ the Bridegroom with his bride the Church.
Today then, I ask you: how is the Holy Spirit calling you? How does the Lord want to work in and through you to bring the Gospel to the world? The Church is born at that first Catholic Pentecost, but today is no mere birthday party. Today is a renewal of vows, a reminder of the promise made by the Bridegroom to us, his bride the Church. The response of the bride is one of love. We are called to join with Jesus in proclaiming the Good News. How is the Holy Spirit calling you to carry out your missionary role in the world? Come, Holy Spirit!