Jesus was a compassionate friend and the most effective teacher ever. Still is!
He knew his friends, the apostles and disciples, had been on a “roller coaster” of emotions.
They had savored His presence with them those three years of what we call His public life, when they were with Him daily in His teaching and miracles.
Then they were devastated when He was arrested, falsely accused, tortured, and crucified, and embarrassed as they all, but one, ran away.
That first Easter they rejoiced to behold Him risen from the dead, there with them once again.
But, Jesus knew this would only be for forty days, as He would then go back to His Father in heaven, the event we celebrate today, Ascension Thursday.
He also knew they might be discouraged again, tempted to conclude He had abandoned them and gone away.
So, compassionate friend and wise teacher, He prepared them, as we heard in our Gospel last Sunday.
“I will not leave you orphans!” He assures them. “I will be with you all days, even until the end of the world!”
How? they could logically ask.
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit!
God the Father sent us His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
God the Father and God the Son send us God the Holy Spirit, unleashed upon the Church at Pentecost, which we’ll celebrate in nine days.
Jesus is assuring us that, in and through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God-is-with-us still, always.
Many are the ways the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, is with us. Can I mention just three?
God, the Holy Spirit, is with us through grace, the life of God within our heart and soul. It’s shocking to believe that God the Son was born in a stable, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta remarked, but it’s even more incredible to think God the Holy Spirit is reborn in the soul of us believers through sanctifying grace! But, it’s true, since Jesus revealed it.
Two, the third Person of the Trinity is powerfully with us in His gifts. You want wisdom? Courage? Inspiration? Mercy? Salvation? Help! Well, pray: Come, Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit brings us those gifts we need and for which we ask.
Three, the Spirit is especially effective in the seven sacraments. Notice how each of the sacraments works in and through the might of the Holy Spirit! The one in which the Spirit is most evident is Confirmation, as the claim God made upon us at Baptism is ratified, affirmed, and sealed.
How sad it was that most people did not recognize and accept God the Son when He was with us here on earth, true God and true man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.
No surprise, I guess, but equally sobering, that now most of us are tempted to think He’s still not with us, even though God still is, through the Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit! Never forget that simple but potent prayer of three words. Pentecost is still happening!