Scripture Study: Pentecost

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By Marc Massery (May 18, 2018)
To find the readings for this weekend, click here

Sunday, May 20 — Pentecost
Acts 2:1-11
• Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 
• 1 Cor 12:3B-7, 12-13 or Gal 5:16-25
• Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15


Wake up. Coffee. iPhone (or Android). Work.

What's for lunch?

Facebook. Instagram. Work, work, work. One hour to go!

Then we rush out the door at 5 p.m., anxiously meander our way through traffic, sprint up our apartment steps, lock the door behind us, and entertain ourselves with our favorite vice.

The next morning, we do it all over again, looking forward to our "me time" later. We can always rely on that.

Most in our culture live like this because, in our fallen world, everything is backward. But worse, everything is backward and we don't realize it.

Selfishness replaces charity. Lust replaces love. Fear replaces faith.

But the Lord has a more than sufficient solution to all of our ills.

This week's solution is Pentecost, when the Church celebrates the watershed moment of the Holy Spirit's descent upon Jesus' disciples following His Ascension. God sent us the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about the world.

In the Scriptures this weekend, St. Paul says, "Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want" (Gal 5: 16-17).

Our world does not know what it needs. Even many Christians just grin-and-bear-it, day in and day out, much like the rest of the society, without joy, one of the greatest fruits of the Spirit. Instead, they teeter-totter between faith and what St. Paul calls "the flesh," blind to the world God wants us to live in.

They distract themselves to get through the day, focusing on less important, selfish pleasures to keep themselves going. I know this from experience.

But St. Paul explains the start to a solution. He lists the following sins we must avoid at all costs, each one fleshier than the next: "Immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like" (Gal 5: 19-21)

All these sins look satisfying to us without the presence of the Holy Spirit. But as fulfilling as they may appear, in truth, they lead to nothing but misery and eventually something far worse — eternal misery.

Thankfully, our misery qualifies us for the greatest gift in the world: Divine Mercy.

As St. Faustina writes:

[A]nd although I am utterly miserable and small, I have, nevertheless, cast the anchor of my trust deep down into the abyss of Your mercy, O my God and Creator! In spite of my great misery I fear nothing, but hope to sing You a hymn of glory for ever. Let no soul, even the most miserable, fall prey to doubt; for, as long as one is alive, each one can become a great saint, so great is the power of God's grace. It remains only for us not to oppose God's action (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 283).


To experience the fullness of Divine Mercy, we need the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of this fallen world.

Imagine yourself famished, having spent three days in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles without any food to eat. You come home — practically starving — and on the table, you see a bowl of what looks like fresh fruit: a couple of apples, some pears, a bunch of purple grapes, a few sufficiently yellowed bananas (none of those half-way greenies).

Bottom line — they look good, ripe, and juicy. Just what you NEED.

You feel a hole burning through your stomach.

You can't.

Wait.

One.

More.

SECOND!

You grab a Honeycrisp apple. Its shiny red skin glistens in your hand as the joy of Christmas wells up in your soul.

CHOMP!

The unexpected happens. The flavor of back-alley garbage fills your mouth and you feel sick.

Satan's fruit has the look and feel of the real thing, but it actually tastes awful and makes you ill.

All that buildup, the excitement, what looked like a solution, gone in an instant. You remember that single moment of elation — that one glorious bite — with scorn.

Even worse. You're more miserable than you were before. Plus, there's not a Tic-Tac or an Altoid in sight.

But there must be some good fruit in here, right? As if one bad apple ever ruined the whole bunch.

The grapes — surely, they must be real and delicious.

But then the same thing happens again. And again, and again, and again. Pears, bananas, grapes, oranges, each more vile than the next.

Then it hits you, "All this fruit is fake." And you question if any real fruit exists. On the one hand, it must exist because you feel so hungry. On the other hand, you've never actually seen real fruit, never mind tasted it. Smelled it maybe. Talked some people who say they've had it. But you've never had a bite yourself. Not so much as a lick.

And that's why we need the Holy Spirit — to reveal what's poison and direct us to the good stuff that satisfies. The organic, grass-fed, cage-free, farm-to-table fruit of the Lord.

Then we'll see the truth: that sin can't satisfy us any more than fake fruit can fill our tummies.

And we'll avoid sin at all costs. Only then will we open ourselves up to a true feast on the best stuff, the fruit of the Holy Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness" (Gal 5:22).

With His Spirit, we'll find ourselves experiencing a taste of paradise this side of Heaven. Suffering, yes, but accompanied with more than enough consolation thanks to the Holy Spirit's gifts.

So stop sinning. You know which sins I'm talking about. If not, pay attention at Mass this weekend (better yet, scroll up to St. Paul's list of sins).

And trust that God's fruit will satisfy.

Spoiler alert: It satisfies.

He does not lie. He is good. But He needs our trust.

And in God's Divine Mercy, no matter how much fake fruit we've ingested, we can always call upon Him to send us the Holy Spirit, enlighten our minds, transform our hearts, and set us free.

If you're struggling to let go of sin and temptation, even though you know you're eating rotten fruit, do not let your hearts be troubled.

Maybe you have been striving for years to overcome this illness, this addiction, this broken heart, chewing on your shiny wax to try and numb the pain because you don't know anything else.

And you just. Can't. Seem. To find. Any. Real. FRUIT!

You wallow in victimhood.

I've been there.

But I beg you. Please. KEEP. PUSHING. FORWARD. Call on God again and again and again until He teaches you to trust. All the while keep His Commandments and receive the Sacraments as often as possible. Draw close to God, and He will draw close to you.

In the end, no matter how much pain you've experienced, Heaven is worth every bit of it.

The Kingdom of Heaven is, indeed, at hand. It starts here, by living moment to moment in trust, through which God's grace flows. You'll know you're there when you can confidently say "Jesus, I trust in You," and He takes you places you never thought you could go.

This Sunday, for real joy, for actual peace, for serious healing, pray with all your heart: "Come Holy Spirit."

He will come to you, not on your terms, but as He wills. You won't know from where or to what. But He will satisfy.

So just trust. And He will pour His gifts out upon you and sanctify your daily, mundane life.

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