Pentecost, Cycle A (May 31, 2020)

I’d like to draw your attention to the Prayer over the Offerings from today’s Mass. It reads:

Grant, we pray, oh Lord,
That, as promised by your Son,
The Holy Spirit may reveal more abundantly
The hidden mystery of this sacrifice
And graciously lead us into all truth
Through Christ our Lord.

May the Holy Spirit lead us into all truth. All truth. That’s asking a lot: truth about God, the world, ourselves, the truth about how all of these, and all of us, are part of God’s plan — too much truth, really, to imagine. But the underlying, fundamental truth that the Holy Spirit reveals to us on this feast of Pentecost is that “Jesus is Lord.” Without the Holy Spirit, no one can accept, announce or live this truth. But with the Spirit, we rejoice to proclaim it boldly: “Jesus is Lord.”

“May the Holy Spirit lead us into all truth.” The Spirit does not coerce us, or force us, or bribe us into faith. The Spirit opens our minds, our hearts, and our ears, just as the disciples experienced on the first Pentecost. The Spirit leads us just as parents lead their children on life’s journey, giving hope and consolation along the way.

May the Holy Spirit “reveal more abundantly the hidden mystery of this sacrifice.” Catholics mean something special by the word “mystery.” The great Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, made the point over a hundred and forty years ago in a letter to Robert Bridges. Hopkins wrote, “You do not mean by mystery what a Catholic does. You mean an interesting uncertainty: the uncertainty ceasing interest ceases also…. But a Catholic by mystery means an incomprehensible certainty…” So, we pray, not that the mystery will be solved, but that it will unfold in us – that it will be manifested in our lives, so it will be evident to all who encounter us, that “Jesus is Lord.”

May the Holy Spirit “reveal more abundantly the hidden mystery of this sacrifice” – the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, the sacrifice made present to us whenever we celebrate the Eucharist. Part of the “hidden mystery of this sacrifice” into which the Spirit leads us through the Eucharist is that the sacrifice of Christ must become our sacrifice. His life and death must become our life and death. We embrace this mystery, little by little, with the Spirit’s help, over the course of a lifetime. To be baptized into the one body of Christ, to live, every day, as a member of that body, is how we come to understand the full meaning of Christ’s sacrifice and ours. In every act of self-sacrificing service along the way, we embody the truth: “Jesus is Lord.”

The Spirit that Jesus promised to his disciples came to them on Pentecost. That Spirit inspired them to proclaim the wonders that God had accomplished in our Savior. And that Spirit is ours today as we celebrate Christ’s sacrifice. In the power of that Spirit, we acclaim the marvels God accomplished in Jesus, but also the good things that God is accomplishing in us. In every one of those good things, our lives reflect the truth, “Jesus is Lord.” Amen. Alleluia.

Fr. Charles Gordon, C.S.C.

Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., is co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland. He writes and records a regular blog called “Fractio Verbi.”

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