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Mildorfer,_Josef_Ignaz_-_Pentecost_-_1750s - Wikimedia Commons

Archbishop Follo: At Pentecost What Happened to the Virgin Mary Occurs to Us

With the wish that the Holy Spirit form us one only thing in Christ.

The Incarnation of the Word took place at a precise moment in time, in a single place and in one person. Pentecost is not limited to a place and a time; it is a perennial event and the Holy Spirit fills each of us.

Pentecost – Year C – June 9th, 2019

Roman rite

Acts 2, 1-11; Ps 103 (104); Romans 8: 8-17; John 14.15-16.23b-26

Ambrosian rite

Acts 2,1-11; Ps 103 (104); 1Cor 12.1-11; Jn 14.15-20

Fire and wind

            1) The gift of the Spirit.

The Solemnity of Pentecost is the feast of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. It is not the feast of the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity because it proceeds from the Father and the Son or from the Father for the Son in the intimate mystery of the divine life. On the contrary, it is the feast of the Spirit because the Holy Spirit has been given to us and has spread over the earth and because the Spirit is the gift of God, the gift of Himself that God has given us to live in our hearts.

It is the feast that takes to completion the designs of God: in the gift of the Spirit, the encounter of every person with God is truly fulfilled. Not only an encounter is fulfilled but a mystery is realized, the mystery of the personal participation of each of us to the intimate life of God. In the gift of the Spirit, we have been drawn into the bosom of the divine Trinity, and we have become part of the very family of God. We are no longer only remotely called to this divine life, but we are made participants of it in the deepest secret of our nature. In the gift of the Spirit a new, truly wonderful and great creation is fulfilled. In fact, the first creation is nothing but a pure condition for this elevation that God does for us making us all participants in Him. The nature, the existence that we received as creatures, especially us human that God wanted to endow with a spirit, would have been nothing but the consciousness and experience of misery and death.

We celebrate Pentecost to feel God at work. Let’s pray so that, in this “spiritual” creation that He is arousing from the depths of guilt and evil, we feel God at work in every human heart and we give ourselves to Him, every day more, to use us as his collaborators in this immense work of transfiguration of the universe. As the Canticle of Saint Sergius says: “Baptized by this divine fire, illuminated by this light, we all become the throne of the Divinity, instrument of the divine omnipotence, pure revelation of God.”

Today, this Spirit of life and love is poured out on the world, on each one of us. As on the Cross the heart of the Son of God was pierced and blood and water (the origin of the sacraments) poured out and the spear penetrated the soul, “ the knot of the Trinity” (Paul Claudel), so now the Spirit of God in the world flows in abundance as from a cracked vase from which water flows. It is a crude image of a very delicate reality. It is an image that reminds us of the evidence of the Pentecost event. Even the powerful noise and the tongues of fire were only images to describe an event: the event of creation when we did not yet exist, and the event of redemption between the Bethlehem crib and the Jerusalem cross which we had not yet understood. Now, with the gift of the Spirit, we can understand. Now, with the gift of the Spirit, we can participate in the procession of the Spirit from the Father and the Son. This participation is what the Catechism calls the fullness of sanctifying grace.

2) The ancient and the new Pentecost.

For Israel, Pentecost, that had begun as a harvest festival, had become the feast that commemorated the conclusion of the Covenant at Mount Sinai. God had shown his presence to the people through wind and fire and had then given the gift of his law, the ten commandments engraved on stone.

On the day of the new Pentecost, that of the Christians, God gave his law of charity. However, he did not write it on two stone tablets, but he engraved it in the hearts of the Apostles through the Holy Spirit, then he communicated it to the whole Church through the Apostles. On them on the day of Pentecost, “the Holy Spirit came down with a sudden noise and changed into his love their minds of carnal beings, and while tongues of fire appeared outside, hearts became flaming inside since, accepting God in the vision of fire, they sweetly burned for love “(St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Evang. XXX, 1: CCL 141, 256). The fire of the Holy Spirit brought them together in a communion of life and of divine Life for them and for the world. Their Word was no longer just human, but the Word of God, which the Holy Spirit had placed in their hearts and on their mouths of flesh. Then, they brought this Gospel of truth and love to the whole world.

“The voice of God deifies the human language of the Apostles, who become capable of proclaiming in a” polyphonic “way the only divine Word. The breath of the Holy Spirit fills the universe, generates faith, drags to the truth, and prepares unity among the peoples. ‘At that noise the crowd gathered and was disturbed because each one heard them speak of the great works of God in their own language’ (Acts 2: 2 – 11) “(Benedict XVI).

With the gift of the Holy Spirit this fire of charity, which is the message of redeeming pardon, is also entrusted to us, the disciples of today. It is the announcement that God has not only visited the earth, He has not only descended into the world but gives himself to me and to you and lives in us, his Church and his true Body.

Reciting often the short prayer: “Come Holy Spirit, come through Mary”, let’s ask the Holy Spirit for the gift of Wisdom to understand not only in the sense of understanding with the head but of welcoming with the heart. In fact, we read in Sacred Scriptures” I prayed, and prudence was given to me; I implored, and the spirit of wisdom came into me. I preferred her to scepters and to the throne and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her“(Sap 7,7-8). This superior wisdom is the root of a new knowledge, a knowledge imbued with charity, thanks to which the soul acquires familiarity with the divine things and enjoys their taste. St. Thomas of Aquinas speaks of “a certain taste of God” (Summa Theologiae IIa -IIae, 45, 2, ad 1), by which the true scholar is not simply the one who knows the things of God, but the one who experiences them, lives them and shares them, becoming a missionary by announcing that God is Love and fullness of truth, joy, and peace.

3) The Spirit: flowers, life, and joy.

In the first part of the Summa Theologica (I, 37, 2), St. Thomas Aquinas writes: “As the flowering is to produce flowers, so love is to expire love, and, as the tree is flourishing with flowers, so the Father expresses with the Word, that is the son, himself and the creature, and the Father and the Son love each other in the Holy Spirit as proceeding love in which they love themselves and us”. Flowers, life, and joy: this is the Spirit. At this point, the stuttering of our theology of pilgrims stops, and we just must contemplate this truth of love. Who, humanly thinking, could have thought that God loves himself and us with the same love as if the same tremor moves and heats joining our life to his?

Man has always sought a glimmer of hope to overcome the despair of death and inevitable suffering, and the Greek scholars had found this glimmer by declaring that man is akin to God. Taking up this longing that man is of divine kind, in the discourse at the Areopagus St. Paul announces: “In him, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Now, what is already admirable in the natural participation that man has of the divine nature becomes almost unspeakable but consoling, a mystery of merciful love in participation to the nature and the divine life through grace. This grace has been earned by the passion of Christ. The Holy Spirit leads us to the Son and makes us capable, thirsty and hungry for his Grace. The Apostles were the first to experience it. They experienced the Truth which is to see clearly in things and in ourselves, and to have the certainty that God loves us and that we can love and take refuge in him calling him “Father”.

            4) From the Holy Spirit, Our Lady has received Jesus as a gift.

If the recommended prayer today is “Come Holy Spirit, come through Mary” and the second is the “Our Father”, the third is the Heil Mary because “there is no Pentecost without the Mary” ( Benedict XVI) who received the gift of Jesus from the Holy Spirit.

The presence of Mary, full of Grace, is at the beginning, in the Cenacle where the Apostles “were persevering and united in prayer, together with some women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Acts 1 , 14) And so it is always, today as then, in Jerusalem and in all parts of the world.

Already at the time of the Annunciation, Mary had experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel had said to her: ” The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35). Through this descent of the Holy Spirit into her, Mary “was associated in a unique and unrepeatable way with the mystery of Christ. In the encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Saint John Paul II wrote: “In the mystery of Christ she is already present” before the creation of the world “(cf. Ephesians 1: 4) as the one whom the Father eternally chose as the mother of his Son in the incarnation – and, together with the Father, the Son chose her, entrusting her eternally to the Spirit of holiness “(n. 8).

In the Cenacle in Jerusalem when through the Easter events the mystery of Christ on earth came to its fulfillment, Mary finds herself in the community of the disciples to prepare a new coming of the Holy Spirit – and a new birth: the birth of the Church.

It is true that she is already “temple of the Holy Spirit” because of her fullness of grace and her divine motherhood; but she participates in the supplications for the coming of the Paraclete (paraclī̆tus which derives from the Greek αράκλητος, that is ‘ called near, invoked’ and therefore consoler) so that with his power he makes burst into the apostolic community the impulse towards the mission that Jesus Christ, coming in the world, received from the Father (cf. Jn 5:36), and, returning to the Father, transmitted to the Church (cf. Jn 17:18). Mary, from the beginning, is united to the Church as one of the “disciples” of the Son, but at the same time stands out  always as “a figure and an excellent model (of the Church herself), in faith and in charity” (Vat. II Council, Lumen Gentium 53).

Benedict XVI told the Consecrated Virgins: “Be by name and de facto maids of the Lord in imitation of the Mother of God” (RCV, 29) and invited them to persevere in giving God all of their being by indicating in the Virgin of Nazareth and in her “yes” the first extraordinary realization of this offer of self (cf. Audience to the Participants in the Congress of the “ORDO VIRGINUM” May 15th 2008). And six years ago, Pope Francis reminded them that the consecrated Virgins are “Icons of Mary and of the Church” (May 7th, 2013).

About Francesco Follo

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