In today’s gospel, we hear those beautiful words, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is a gift to us. We first “received” this gift in Baptism and its fullness in Confirmation.

The Holy Spirit is the gift of all gifts. He is a true gift, and therefore we can possess him.

But, is it possible to possess the Holy Spirit? In the gift of grace, the Third Person of the Trinity is given to us. A gift is something that is given to someone to possess. If someone gives me a gift for my birthday, it becomes mine, and it would not be polite for the giver to ask for it back.

Because the Holy Spirit is a gift, it belongs to us after being given. Therefore, we can enjoy him and use his effects. He is ours to do with him as we please.

Let us enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Let us rejoice in him, and be grateful for him, the gift of all gifts.

Besides being a gift, the Holy Spirit is a guest. Today’s sequence says, “sweet guest of the soul.”

As a guest, the Holy Spirit does not force his way in our hearts. If that were his way, he would be an assailant, not a guest. There is a profound gentleness in the way that he resides in our souls.

He is gentle, but also brings deep delight with him. He is sweet and generous. He is like those guests that bring joy with them, that we look forward to receiving and spending quality time with. He is also like those guests that come filled with gifts for everyone.

As a priest I have been blessed to be received often in the homes of people. It is wonderful to be received with joy and expectation. The flip side of the Holy Spirit being a guest is that we are his hosts. Let us be the most welcoming hosts, enjoying his presence, asking him not to leave, and making him most comfortable. How sad would it be if our best guest was forced out of our hearts.

The Holy Spirit is also the sanctifier. We assign different external works to the Persons of the Trinity. We say that God the Father is the creator, and that God the Son is the redeemer. In the same way, we say that the Holy Spirit is the sanctifier.

Sanctity is the perfection of love, and the Holy Spirit is love himself that works in us. He transforms us into Christ through love. He is the divine Artisan that molds us into the image of Jesus.

But that molding, that sanctification, is not done against our will. The Holy Spirit wants our cooperation. Imagine Michelangelo carving the Pieta. What would have happened if the block of marble moved while he carved it, or if it resisted the strokes of the Artisan? We would not have this excellent work of art. What would happen if we resisted the Holy Spirit, if we didn’t listen to his loving inspirations, if we didn’t cooperate with his grace, if we were not docile to his motions? We will be a ruined work of art, our holiness will remain truncated.

The Holy Spirit is a gift to receive and possess, a sweet guest to welcome and rejoice in, and an Artisan to cooperate with. Let us love the Holy Spirit!

May 28 – Pentecost