As the Psalm for today indicates, on Pentecost, God renews the world. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the abyss when God began to draw order out of chaos in creation, now the Spirit comes down to give new life and unity to God’s people. At the Fall, humanity became divided against itself. At Pentecost, these divisions were healed, so that “Jews from every nation under heaven” could understand the Apostles. The clock has been turned back on sin, and we have been brought back to a time of newness.
But, of course, this state of newness is due to grace, not magic. We still live in a world marred by sin–a marring which is hard to ignore. The accuser (the meaning of the term “Satan”) still “prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls.” As St. Irenaeus points out, “since we have our accuser, we need our Advocate as well.” And so God sent the Holy Spirit–the Paraclete, whose name means “advocate,” as well as “exhorter, encourager, comforter.” God wishes us to live in a state of newness, and so defends us from the oldness, and gives us strength and comfort in the midst of evil so that we are not dragged down.
What’s more, God did not simply surround the Apostles, but they were “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Our renewal is not just a fresh coat of paint on an old door–we are renewed from within. Through our confirmation, we all have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Just as the Eucharist resides within the Tabernacles of churches around the world, the Holy Spirit resides within us. On those occasions when we are feeling anything but new, or distant from God, this can be helpful to reflect upon. No matter how far we think we are from God, thanks to Pentecost, God is closer than we can imagine.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.