Pentecost Sunday: 19 May

The Spirit of the Lord who has filled the whole world

 The Spirit of the Lord who has filled the whole world  ING-020
17 May 2024

The fifty days of Eastertide culminate in the solemnity of Pentecost, a feast richly arrayed with Scripture readings whether at the extended vigil or on the day itself. What we are essentially celebrating is the Spirit of the Lord who has filled the whole world (entrance antiphon) and continues to fill it.

The gospel of the day Mass in year B considers the Holy Spirit under a particular attribute expressed in the twice repeated phrase Spirit of truth. The gospel is set in the context of the Last Supper, but Jesus has already introduced the idea of truth with the words spoken to Thomas, I am the way, the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). Truth will feature again, during the Passion, when Jesus declares its centrality, evoking from Pilate, mouthpiece of the whole secular world, the question, What is truth? (Jn 18:38).

The word of God in this year of grace 2024, challenges us on the personal, the moral and the spiritual level. We have received the Spirit of truth who has filled the whole world. Now we are invited and urged to live with maximum integrity, being who we truly are, avoiding the gaudy glamour and fickle falseness of the masks we put on. The lie is a long spider strand that draws other sticky threads, webbing us in untruth. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me”: this defiant declaration of children is a lie. The word of untruth, spoken in subtle spite, can utterly destroy a person, life, reputation and all. The words of untruth, spoken cynically or in ignorance by politicians and popularists can destroy what is peaceful, just and lightsome between nations.

In the second reading, from Galatians, Paul lists the tetchy, divisive and destructive qualities that accompany the Spirit’s absence. He also lists the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, etc. What is truth? “Truth” stands before Pilate (I am the truth). Truth is what it really all means, without subterfuge, without evasion: a world and a universe that is ultimately providential and personal, that has behind it a face of compassion. Through the coils of confusion, though often hiddenly, moves the Spirit of the Lord, pervading the corners of human existence, bringing form and order to the void.

By Fr Edmund Power osb