Pentecost is described in Acts Chapter 2, where the Holy Spirit descends upon those in the upper room, they are filled with zeal to preach the good news without fear. They speak all the languages of every person in the streets outside of the upper room. The narrative is recounting both a Divine Manifestation (theophany) and the supernatural miracle that takes place as a result. By these signs, Acts reports that “three thousand souls” convert to Christ.
Does the Holy Spirit still work in the Church Today?
Pope St. John Paul II’s first encyclical Redemptor Hominis proclaims a Christ focused mission for the Church. What is vital to the mission of the People of God is the receiving of the Helper-–the Holy Spirit. Pope St. John Paul II writes, “This treasure of humanity enriched by the inexpressible mystery of divine filiation and by the grace of "adoption as sons” in the Only Son of God, through whom we call God "Abba, Father", is also a powerful force unifying the Church above all inwardly and giving meaning to all her activity. Through this force the Church is united with the Spirit of Christ, that Holy Spirit promised and continually communicated by the Redeemer and whose descent, which was revealed on the day of Pentecost, endures for ever. Thus the powers of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit are revealed in men. The present-day Church seems to repeat with ever greater fervour and with holy insistence: "Come, Holy Spirit!". Come! Come! "Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away; Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray”
Understanding the Role of the Holy Spirit in the Church
St. Paul writes:
• 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Cor. 12:4–11 ESV-CE)
• Discernment of Spirits
• Speaking in Tongues
• Interpretation of Tongues
• St. Paul makes clear that these gifts are not for personal use, but for the common good. Christianity from its origins isn’t concerned with a personal Jesus relationship, but rather, participating individually within the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12-27) Modern Western readers may find it difficult to believe in a literal supernatural application of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed previously. St. Paul uses the Greek word “Charismata,” which is related to the word Charism or can be translated to “talents.”
• Fr. Raymond F. Collins, “St. Paul’s Letters 101: How to Read & Understand the Apostle Paul’s Epistles”, Now You Know Media Inc, July 28th, 2017 accessed February 2nd, 2021, https://www.learn25.com/product/st-pauls-letters-101-how-to-read-and-understand-the-apostle-pauls-epistles/
• Fr. Collins argues for a more natural meaning for the application of gifts given by God. The New Collegeville commentary explains the reason St. Paul changes the word for spiritual gifts from pneumatika to charismata is to stress that the diversity of gifts from the Holy Spirit are equal due to their origins from the Spirit, which includes talents, “Along with the diversity of gifts inspired by the Spirit, there are also various forms of service and workings that are also divinely.”
• Maria A. Pascuzzi, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” in New Testament, ed. Daniel Durken, The New Collegeville Bible Commentary (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009), 529.
An exegete of Sacred Scripture could propose that St. Paul is speaking about natural talents given by God’s grace, which is a valid interpretation based on the word usage from St. Paul. The exegete should ask these questions though when examining this text:
• What does the text desire for us to believe?
• What does God want us to consider about these gifts and His saving work?
• How would a non-Western interpreter understand this text?
• One point to consider aside from the word used by St. Paul is the narrative understanding of the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles which is supernatural in character.
• Compare the growth and faith if churches in the global South comparison to the West—and how they interpret the meaning of Sacred Scripture.
St. Paul lists the Gifts of the Holy Spirit several times with differing enumerations. Prophet is the only one that appears in every list.
• (Fr. Raymond F. Collins, “St. Paul’s Letters 101: How to Read & Understand the Apostle Paul’s Epistles”)
If you’re waiting for God to call you like Jeremiah-–No Need! You have already been given the revelation! Why are you not preaching the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone you know! Pick up your Bibles and spread the good news!
• Consider starting “Ask a Catholic?” booths at local fairs to profess the gospel in your local community.
• Talk about your parish at work or wear some emblem of the faith.
• Every baptized Catholic participates in the prophetic office of Jesus Christ. Jesus has sent the Helper to us to aid us with His mission. Go forth with the grace of God and make disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.