Who is the Holy Spirit? For those doing a GCSE in religious studies, he is the third part (or person) of the Trinity. For those of us brought up in the Anglican church, we may be able to recite the Nicene creed: “I believe in the Holy Ghost (or Spirit), the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets.” Beautiful language, but what does it mean? In the Gospel reading assigned for this day, Jesus makes it more intelligible. Jesus breathed on His disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” It is as simple as the breath of God. In the book of Genesis, we read, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The psalmist writes, “when you take away their (all living things) breath, they die and turn again to dust.” We are creatures of the Creator but because of God’s infinite Grace, he breathes (eternal) life into us. This is what the Holy Spirit is, the breath of life.
However, there is much more that could be said about Him. In the Book of Acts, we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Church in power. The writer talks about the Spirit of God as wind (or breath), fire and different languages. He is the one who speaks all the languages of the world and so can communicate with all people everywhere. This aspect of communication dovetails with the creed in terms of speaking through the prophets. Finally, in the Epistle reading for today, we learn of the different gifts that come from the Holy Spirit. The writer of 1 Corinthians mentions the spiritual gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophesy, discernment, tongues and interpretation. It is the Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts to each one of us.
Today is the day of Pentecost when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit into the Church to enable the Church to be and do God’s will on earth. Let’s be thankful, rejoice and rise to the challenge at this time by breathing life into a troubled world.
New Testament reading for this week: Acts 2:1-21
Gospel reading for this week: John 20:19-23
Epistle reading for this week: 1 Corinthians 12:3-13
Psalm for this week: 104:24-35