What do we notice? The Advocate was given to all gathered there, all one hundred and twenty and not just to the Eleven or to Mary alone. The gifts of the Spirit were poured out on the entire community. What happened to them that morning? They were transformed from venal and fearful men and women to brave and fearless apostles. As such, they would be witnesses to the Resurrection of the Lord wherever they went. The ecstatic experience that overwhelmed them would be tested time and again. Can the Spirit’s outpouring transform today’s Body of Christ as it did to the community at Pentecost? Yes, but gradually.
The Holy Spirit is God’s very own Self standing beside us teaching us everything—everything we need to know and remind us of all that Jesus taught. The Paraclete is our divine solicitor on whom we can call at any time. As the soul of the Church, as its animating principle, the Spirit-Paraclete comforts and consoles, supports, prods, protects, pleads, and intercedes for us before the Father.
It is true that the Holy Spirit is described as fire and love, breath and wind, springs of water, energy and power, as fire and water, justice, art, and artistic creativity. But these are metaphors. Our Spirit-Advocate, the outpouring of love between Father and Son, inspires us not only to do good but in many cases to do heroic things. Which brings us to D-Day.
The Case for Spiritual and Secular Witness
This week Americans and other nations commemorate the seventieth anniversary of D-Day. It doesn’t matter if we were not born then. The records of history, documentaries, and films vividly tell of the heroism shown on that June 6 day. How many thousands of service men, service women, and civilians gave their lives in heroic service for our country not only at Normandy but in other battle zones as well! We have been honored to meet some of the greatest generation who, by their very presence, teach today’s generation what it means to be an American.
The story of the five Sullivan brothers has been one of the most frequently told narratives of World War II even though they did not take part in that “longest day” on the Normandy coast. They and their sister, Genevieve, were raised in a closely-knit, Catholic family. The five boys were so committed to one another that their motto was “we stick together.” They requested to be permitted to serve on the same ship, and in February, 1942, they were assigned to USS Juneau whose destination was the Pacific. One was married and had an infant child. Tragically, on November 13, 1942, all five lost their lives when the newly-commissioned ship sank during the Battle of Guadalcanal. It was only six months after their commission. The brothers ranged in age from twenty to twenty-eight. Three died instantly, one drowned the next day, and the last died from delirium.