First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Second Reading
1 Peter 3:15-18

Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.

Gospel Cycle Cycle A
John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

We Catholics are often a little uneasy with the Holy Spirit, and even more so since the Catholic Charismatic movement in the Church took on a shape and a form within our Catholic Church. For those who are members of the Charismatic movement, such readings as those we have heard today only confirm their own experiences. But for many of us, the readings leave us wondering if the Holy Spirit comes in various ways.

Always we want to be formed by the Scriptures. Our hearts need to listen to God’s own revealed Word and to respond to that Word. In the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, it seems that listening to the Word of God is not enough. We must receive the Holy Spirit as well. Perhaps at times we fear that must speak in tongues or that the Spirit will make us act oddly. While it is true that speaking in tongues and testifying to God’s actions within us can come from the Spirit, there are also other gifts of the Spirit that manifest the presence of the Spirit in our lives.

The traditional list of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit includes these: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. These may seem tame gifts compared to speaking in tongues, but they are often much more difficult to live with and to exercise consistently.

In the second reading, we hear that Christ is brought back to life in the Holy Spirit. We might also meditate a bit about those realities that bring us to life and those that bring others to life. While this is not entirely the meaning of that phrase in the first letter of Peter, neither is it entirely foreign to its meaning. When we find someone dead spiritually, we need to pray a lot about what might bring life in the Spirit. Even for ourselves, we need to pray a lot about what can bring us more abundant life in the Spirit.

The Gospel brings us to focus on the gift of the Spirit, the Advocate that Jesus sends to us. The word used here in Greek is “paraclete,” which can be translated as Helper, Intercessor, Comforter, Advocate, Paraclete. This Spirit helps us understand what we believe, draws us into the truth of Jesus, is a link to God by being God and yet with us, a Spirit that comforts us in all our affliction.

As our faith comes more and more to life within us, we can call on the Spirit to help us continue to grow. In these days leading up to the Solemnity of Pentecost, the feast of the sending of the Holy Spirit upon us, we need to keep asking for this Spirit to be poured out on us and on all who believe.

Truly we want to become fully alive in Christ. Sometimes we are not sure what that means. Let us ask the Holy Spirit today to give us wisdom and understanding, especially in our faith. Let us walk more and more faithfully with Jesus each day and live as He did, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, loving others and giving our lives to the service of others so that our world can be transformed.