The Spirit of God continues to breathe life into us today

The air around us: We experience its grace in so many ways!  It can be a gentle breeze swirled by a ceiling fan that cools the porch on a summer day. A bunch of spinning windmills can generate electricity by harnessing an energy source that is inexhaustible, ecologically friendly and absolutely free – the power of wind.  
Because of the wind, our experience of life is constantly changing.  Wind is gentle and powerful, mysterious and uncontrolled.  That is why the ancient Hebrews connected wind to their imagery of God.  In fact, the Hebrew word for “wind,” ruah, serves triple duty, since this same word was used for “breath” and “spirit.”  The ancient Hebrews knew that God’s spirit, God’s breath – like the wind – is mysterious, powerful, invisible – the energy behind an ever-changing creation.
This weekend we celebrate Pentecost. The wind/spirit/breath of God came upon all those who were waiting and praying in that upper room in Jerusalem.  They said the experience was like having tongues of flame come upon them, and certainly their own tongues caught fire as they began to proclaim boldly their witness to Jesus Christ to a multinational and multilingual audience.  Yet before they heard the Gospel, it was the sound of a great wind that caught their attention.
Certainly, this was not the gentle breeze that makes a wind chime sing. This was the wind of God – a powerful, unrestrained, potent force unleashed upon that little band of men and women.  And as surely as wind creates and changes the weather, the wind of God created something entirely new and different that Pentecost day – God breathed life into a frightened little group and the church was born. 
And the Spirit of God continues today to breathe life, empowering us to take on what is right and good and just despite our sense of inadequacy and failure.  May we live in the conviction that the Spirit will enable us to do what is of God.
Come, Spirit of God, free us from all our anxieties and fears.  Send us forth as a new people to bring your light, peace and hope to all we meet.
Father Dennis Hanneman is a retired priest of the archdiocese. Contact him at
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