Jesus appeared to his disciples and to many other people during the 40 days from Easter Sunday to his Ascension. He requested that they go on a special retreat for 10 days along with the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to prepare their souls to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost which is the visible beginning of the Church.
Yet, on Easter day, Jesus already breathed on his eleven first priests and gave them the most powerful weapon against Satan, a more powerful authority than any ever exercised by any world leaders: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained”. (John 20:23)
- What were the reasons Jesus wanted to send them the Holy Spirit? Can anyone state that God is our loving Creator and Father without the gift of the Holy Spirit?
St Paul is clear in his teaching when he wrote: “Nobody is able to say: ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit”. (1Cor.12)
- Why were the gifts of the Holy Spirit shown as tongues of fire? St Thomas Aquinas explained that the tongues of fire were the sign of their office as teachers.
- Can one profess that Jesus is substantially present in the consecrated host without the Holy Spirit?
On May 31st 1998, St John Paul II, said:
“And the Holy Spirit, coming down upon them with extraordinary power, enabled them to proclaim the teaching of Christ Jesus to the whole world. Their courage was so great, their determination so sure, that they were prepared to do anything, even to give up their life. The gift of the Spirit had released their deepest energies, concentrating them on the mission entrusted to them by the Redeemer. And it will be the Counsellor, the Parakletos, who will guide them in preaching the Gospel to all. The Spirit will teach them the whole truth, drawing it from the wealth of Christ’s word, so that, in turn, they may communicate it to people in Jerusalem and the rest of the world.
How can we not give thanks to God for the wonders the Spirit has never ceased to accomplish in these two millenniums of Christian life? Indeed, the event of grace at Pentecost has continued to bear its marvellous fruits, everywhere instilling apostolic zeal, a desire for contemplation, the commitment to live and serve God and our brothers and sisters with complete dedication.”