I have a favorite person in the Trinity. Maybe I’m not supposed to, but I do. I’ve always felt especially drawn to the Holy Spirit. I think often when I’m praying, I am half subconsciously directing my prayers towards the Holy Spirit. I may use the name God, but it’s the Holy Spirit that I’m picturing. It isn’t that I don’t pray to or value or love the Creator and Jesus; I think it’s because that is the person in the Trinity whom I can most closely feel in my life.
As we prepare for Communion every Mass, a critical part is sharing peace with each other, remembering that we are called to share in the peace of Christ and share it with each other. But as we do so, we recall Jesus coming to the terrified disciples and offering each of them peace, and doing so through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ Jesus said, “Peace, Peace be with you” and the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit.
I love that image so much. Sometimes, as I mediate, I can feel the Presence flowing over and around me and through me, and I imagine it’s what the apostles felt when they were hidden away in that locked room. I may not emerge speaking tongues or curing illnesses or forgiving sins, but I am certainly filled with the Spirit. That Spirit brings hope, brings love, brings joy, brings the umph that I need to go through life.
I was confirmed on Pentecost Sunday; that year the bishop of the church I attended back then gave permission for priests to confirm students on Pentecost throughout the diocese, to underscore the meaning of receiving the Holy Spirit. As Catholics, we confirm and ordain through the laying on of hands, the passing of the Holy Spirit from one to another, as was done in the earliest days of the church.
We carry that tradition with us two thousand years later, recognizing the gift Jesus gave to us in the calling down of the Holy Spirit, whom we hear Jesus today call the Advocate. The Holy Spirit works in our world today through each of us, through our actions and interactions.
In Peter’s letter, we are urged to recognize the Holy Spirit in our lives, to have ready an answer for when people ask why we do what we do, why we are Christ-followers. The journey is not always easy; indeed, it sometimes feels impossible. But we have the ever-present Holy Spirit, constantly with us, working “magic” in the world around us, lighting the way, easing the way, comforting and supporting us on the journey.
This is the gift of the Holy Spirit: that even though Jesus ascended to Heaven, which we remember in a special Mass this coming Thursday, we were not left alone here on this earth, to fumble around for a lifetime. No, the Holy Spirit came into our lives then and remains with us constantly.
As the disciples said to one another after meeting Jesus on the Road to Emmaus: Were not our hearts burning within us? Were not our hearts burning inside?
We can say to each other now and always: Are not our hearts burning within us? Are not our hearts burning inside?