FEAST OF PENTECOST
First Reading (Acts 2:1-11):
The descent of the Holy Spirit
“You are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.”(Rom 8:9)
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (Jn 14: 26)
In that way Christ's church was established openly and became the 'church of evangeliz-ers.' It would be a church always evangelising, always witnessing to Christ, and natu-rally always expanding.
Today the church gives priority to its pastoral role. Most of her energy is given to lit-urgy, the sacraments, looking after the faithful, over and above its internal affairs. Un-doubtedly pastoral care is extremely important but this is not the entire mission of the church. The church still has a mission to 'evangelise,' to become 'the church of evange-lisers,' showing the world that she is a witness to Christ's gospel and introducing all people to the incarnate Christ who saved us.
The church therefore must use its resources and energies in proper proportion to evange-lization and the tasks related to preaching the Gospel to non-Christians. She may even need to adjust the weight she gives to both the ministries of pastoral care and those of evangelization, perhaps giving less attention to the former in favor of the latter, so that both become like 'two pillars' of the church, enabling it to develop in a balanced and healthy manner.
If, however, the church is to take up evangelisation in a comprehensive manner, enter into the world, and preach to all families in every corner of the world, she must have the full co-operation and participation of the laity, eliciting from the laity all their capabilities. 'The Constitution on the Church' even says that the church ‘must rely on the laity’ in order to truly 'sanctify the world from within.' (Const. on the Church, Art. 31).
However, whether in pastoral care or in evangelisation, the church must pay attention to both external and spiritual aspects. 'External' refers to the tangible and visible part of our faith, for example, signs, external forms, material elements. 'Spiritual' encompasses the part that is internal, spiritual, invisible, filled with grace and spiritual gifts.
As the history of the church has developed, she has attached relatively greater importance to organisation and structure, that is, put greater emphasis on the 'externals' of the faith. Hence, our rituals are very orderly; and the management of our church is very systematic. The organisation of the whole church, its structures and regulations, from the universal level to the diocesan and parish levels, even to pious organizations, etc. have developed quite adequately. We can say that even the church's music and art can be counted as a fine contribution to the art and culture of humankind. Before the Second Vatican Council we took great pride in considering the Catholic Church 'the most perfect human institu-tion'.
With that as a background, it is now appropriate to emphasize the spiritual elements of the church. It is indeed necessary to move from the previous emphasis to giving priority to an intensification and concern for 'spiritual' aspects. The truth of the matter is that the Catholic Church is a spiritual entity, spirit-directed and guided by the Holy Spirit. Did not Jesus say that “God is spirit, and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth?” (Jn 4:24).
A church guided by the spirit is one that stresses spiritual gifts and the needs of our spiritual lives, and is receptive to the teachings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus once said this about the Holy Spirit: “The Spirit will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (Jn 14:24)
After Jesus' resurrection and ascension, he was no longer by the side of the church when problems arose. He then could not directly help the church face its problems. The church could only recall Jesus’ teachings and from these recollections seek inspiration and strength.
When the church thus 'recalled' the teachings of Jesus, within the church those teachings would have already undergone subtle 'changes.' That is, the church was expounding fur-ther on the words of Jesus. She was able to ferret out the original spirit of Jesus' words and apply them to a new situation. That is 'spirit', the 'spirit' of the words of Jesus. That is the role of the Holy Spirit in the church. The Spirit helps the church to under-stand, develop and enrich the original words of Jesus, enabling them to be filled with vi-tality and vigor.
Zhuang Zi wrote in 'Externals' in The Sayings of Zhuang Zi (Chap. 26) “A fish trap is a means for catching fish, but once we catch the fish, the trap can be forgotten. Words are a means for grasping ideas, but when the idea is grasped, the words can be forgotten. “(1) The fish-trap is a tool for catching fish. When we have caught the fish, we can for-get about the fish-trap. Words are used to communicate ideas and feelings. When we have comprehended the meaning of the speaker, we can forget about the exact wording and need not hold on to it.
This is what Lie Zi meant by “Get the finest and forget the coarse. Emphasize the inside and forget the outside.” (2) This is also the work of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit the church can be united to Jesus anew. It is as in an earlier time when through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God became incarnate, took on a human form and lived among us.