Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Pentecost Sunday—23 May A.D. 2010

“Peace I leave you, My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, do I give unto you. 
Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.”

The Virgin Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Mass Text]
[Latin Mass Text]

    In  my sermon last week I said that Our Lord “spoke to prepare the Apostles and future generations of Catholics for the reality that they too would be hated insofar as they were faithful to His teachings.  The world would always have its Caiphas (the High Priest that year) willing to betray the followers of Christ to Pontius Pilate.  “They will expel you from the synagogues. Yes, the hour is coming for anyone who kills you to think that he is offering worship to God. And these things they will do because they have not known the Father nor Me.”[2]  If that sermon and the Gospel passage on which it was based seemed pessimistic, today on the feast of Pentecost we learn how our Lord compensates for the hostility of the world.

    While He was on the earth, our Lord was the “Advocate” of the Apostles.  We might take this word “advocate” to mean a spokesman or attorney.  Our Lord always had the right answer for those who questioned Him or His Apostles.  Some of those answers were so insightful that they have been preserved, even in the secular literature of our culture—virtually everyone knows the rebuke our Lord gave to the Pharisees about “rendering unto Caesar,” even those with little or no Christian background.  Likewise the rebuke in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    Jesus was also our personal Advocate, as Saint John tells us in his first epistle:  “if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just.”[3]  Indeed, when we speak of Jesus Christ as our High Priest, we are speaking of His intercession on our behalf with God the Father.

    But our Lord knew that He was not always to be in the Apostles’ midst, and consequently told them that He would send “another Advocate.”  In today’s Gospel, the Evangelist used the Greek word “Parakletos,” which translates variously as “advocate,” “intercessor,” “teacher,” “helper,” or “comforter.”

    The Gospels help to clarify this, while making the connection to last weeks Gospel.  In Matthew 10 our Lord says: “But when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what to speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what to speak:  For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you.”[4]   Mark has it as “And when they shall lead you and deliver you up, be not thoughtful beforehand what you shall speak: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, speak that. For it is not you that speak, but the Holy Ghost.”[5]  In Luke 12 our Lord says:  “when they shall bring you into the synagogues and to magistrates and powers, be not concerned how, or what you shall answer, or what you shall say.  For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you must say.”[6]

    In today’s epistle we read about the very first time that the Holy Ghost came upon the Christians and empowered them to testify to the truth before men who would otherwise been both uncomprehending and probably hostile.[7]  They were people of diverse nations and languages—and as devout Jews who had made the arduous pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Pentecost, they had, no doubt, been made aware of the decision of the Temple authorities regarding Jesus of Nazareth made only nine weeks before.  Yet the Apostles succeeded in converting to the truth “that day about three thousand souls.”[8]

    For those of us in the twenty-first century, virtually all persecution of Catholics is a persecution of truth.  The world hates us because cling to the revealed Word of God “without shadow of change nor alteration.”  The world hates us because our Lord, who identified Himself with Truth, condemned its immoralities and its excesses.[9]  The modern world rails against the truth, claiming that God given rights to life and property are, instead, given by the State, which claims the authority to infringe those rights at the pleasure of the ruling elite—a State that falsely justifies all manner of errant behavior.  The modern world rails against the truth that God is one and unchanging, and has revealed Himself, and His will to us through His Son and His Church—“we should all just get along”—“I’m okay, your okay”—“and we are all good people no matter what we believe, or what we do.”  Insanity!

    The Holy Ghost, whom the Apostles received on Pentecost, and whom we receive in the Sacrament of Confirmation is the “Spirit of truth.”  We know this for our Lord told it to us at least three times during the Last Supper (in that Gospel of John that I asked you, last week, to read).[10]  If you have been reading the material suggested in the Parish Bulletin for last week, you read in Saint John’s first epistle: “We are of God. He that knoweth God, heareth us. He that is not of God, heareth us not.  By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”[11]

    This  “spirit of error,” can only be the devil, “the Father of Lies,” the spirit of the world.  Those imbued with the “spirit of error,” cannot know God, nor will they listen to His word.

    But even though the world may persecute the truth and all those who speak the truth, it cannot take the Spirit of truth away from us by force.  The Spirit of truth, the Holy Ghost, is God Himself, and utterly impervious to forced coercion or corruption.  When we have the Spirit of Truth dwelling in our souls, we are sometimes described as having “uncreated grace”—“uncreated” in the sense that It exists from all eternity, the Third Person in the Divine Trinity.  It can never be taken from us—we can never, therefore, be made to face persecution in which we will not have an adequate answer for our tormentors.  The world hates the Lord, but He can never be taken from those who possess His truth:  “behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”

    Nonetheless, while the Holy Ghost cannot be taken from us by coercion, it remains within our ability to send Him away by committing mortal sin.  Therefore, if we are afraid that there is to be persecution coming in the Church and in the State, it is of the utmost importance to be found in the state of grace when it comes.  Many talk about stocking up on food, and gold coins, and ammunition, and non-hybrid seeds, and so forth.  And even though these may be very good precautions to take, it makes far more sense to take stock of our spiritual provisions—how many prayers have we “salted away,” so to speak—how frequently do we attend Mass and receive the Sacraments?  Perhaps it is wrong to think of these things as “items” that can acquired and put in a strong box, but certainly prayer and the Mass and the Sacraments are the means by which we grow closer and closer to God in the Spiritual Life—the means by which we make it less and less likely that we will be without the Spirit of truth when we are summoned before the tribunals of the world.

    And, one more thing:  we know from the Acts of the Apostles and the tradition of the Church that on the day of Pentecost the Apostles “were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”[12]  Mary is the spouse of the Holy Ghost, and she is also our Mother.  So, when you find it difficult to pray, or difficult to get out of bed, or to travel to attend Mass and the Sacraments, it is always wise to put your problems before Mary.  And, if you are ever summoned before the tribunals of the world, the key to God’s assistance is that prayer inscribed on the Miraculous Medal of the Immaculate Conception:  “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”  “O Mary, Spouse of the Holy Ghost ... O Mary, Mother of the Church ... O Mary, chosen by our bishops to be the patroness of our Republic ... pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”


[1]   Gospel:  John xiv: 23-31

[7]   Epistle: Acts ii: 1-11

[9]   “I am the way, the life, and the truth.”  John xiv: 6


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