Photo: Jean Restout (1692–1768)
Receive Power From on High
The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit
by Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC
Eighteenth of a 20-part series on the Mysteries of the Rosary. Next week: The Assumption.
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. — Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4
When we meditate on the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we are meditating on the birthday of the Church. Pentecost was when the Apostles received the Spirit of Jesus within themselves (see Acts 1:8). Then they were able to preach like Jesus, do the same miracles as Jesus, and spread the good news of the kingdom to all generations. We see the Catholic (or "universal") Church emerge at Pentecost because that was the first time the message of the Gospel spread to the nations (see Acts 2:5-11; 37-41). We're all called to evangelize in our own way, but we can only do that in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Why were the Apostles so bold after Pentecost when they'd been so afraid before? The Holy Spirit makes the difference. That's one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: He takes away fear and gives us holy courage, holy boldness, and the grace to speak the good news of the Gospel, even if it means opposition (see Acts 4:29-31).
That's why, when the Holy Spirit descended, He appeared as tongues of fire. That fire removed any fear the Apostles had of the authorities (see Acts 5:27-32). They were scourged immediately after proclaiming the Gospel and still went out and evangelized (see Acts 5:40-42). So the person with the Holy Spirit is able to overcome even the worst threats and fears through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit has sanctifying and charismatic gifts that He distributes as He wills for the building up of the kingdom of God. No one person has all the gifts — we must rely on each other for some talents and skills (see 1 Cor 12-14). The power of the Holy Spirit is a divine power, which we don't have except by God's generosity. We must ask for that power from on high to be able to preach God's message, to love, and to sacrifice ourselves for others. On the human level, it doesn't make sense. It takes divine grace to die to ourselves, to reach out to a person who's in need.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to work with power in our lives and the lives of all our neighbors for conversion, sanctification, grace, healing, and peace. Let us ask God to show us what gifts He has given us to build up the Church, and for the prudence and fortitude to use them wisely and lovingly in His service.
1. The Annunciation
2. The Visitation
3. The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus
4. The Presentation in the Temple
5. The Finding in the Temple
1. The Baptism of Jesus
2. The Wedding at Cana
3. The Proclamation of the Gospel
4. The Transfiguration
5. The Institution of the Eucharist
1. The Agony in the Garden
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning with Thorns
4. The Carrying of the Cross
5. The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord Jesus
1. The Resurrection
2. The Ascension
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
4. The Assumption
5. The Coronation