28 March 2008

A Living Word: Easter Week (IV: Thursday)

The gift of the Holy Spirit: the Church is the realised Pentecost

Patrick Comerford

In the days immediately after Easter, the Risen Christ promises his disciples peace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and that he would always be with them.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is one that embarrasses many of us as Christians.

We don’t really expect the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

Once we changed the holy-day of Pentecost into the June Bank Holiday weekend, and changed the days we had off work, the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit became culturally and socially irrelevant.

Some associate the gift of the Holy Spirit with confirmation and our teens. For others, the gift of the Holy Spirit has embarrassing associations with enthusiastic charismatic styles of worship that don’t fit in well with comfortable churches and parishes.

The Holy Spirit gets short shrift even in the Nicene Creed … just a few short lines, a few short phrases, no more than one extended sentence.

But the Holy Spirit didn’t just suddenly appear because of Christ’s promises to the Disciples in those days after the first Easter. Those few phrases in the Nicene Creed remind us that the Holy Spirit has always been there guiding us.

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, they like to talk about the Church as the actualised or lived Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is a promise not just to the disciples after Easter, or a promise to be long forgotten after our confirmation.

The gift and gifts of the Spirit are part of the fullness of the gifts we receive as we live out our Easter faith, and an assurance that the Risen Christ is always with us.

This contribution to A Living Word was first broadcast on 27 March 2008 on RTÉ Radio 1. A Living Word is broadcast Monday to Friday at 6:40 a.m. as part of Risin Time with Maxi and repeated Tuesday to Saturday at 12:58 a.m. as part of Late Date. A Living Word is Radio 1's long-standing two-minute daily meditation. The archives are available at:

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