Pentecost and the newness of Christ

Just as Lent prepares us for Easter, so, in a certain sense, does the Easter season lead us naturally to Pentecost.

As Catholics, we understand that the Risen Jesus conquered death and lives for all eternity. We know he taught that all who believe in him will never die, that we will share in his eternal life. And we believe his promise to remain with us always, until the end of the world.

But do we fully appreciate the role of the Holy Spirit in the work of the Risen Jesus?

After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to many, most especially to the apostles. He explained to them how everything he had said to them prior to his death and resurrection was now fulfilled.

And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).

He reminded them that they were witnesses to all these mighty works (24:48).

Then Jesus told the apostles they must wait to receive the Holy Spirit. “And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (24:49).

Our Creed professes that we believe the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son, and is glorified with the Father and the Son. The Gospels instruct us often regarding the working of the Holy Spirit in the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. Is it any wonder the Holy Spirit plays an equally important role in the life of the church, and in each of our lives?

This quote from St. Irenaeus is helpful for us to understand the working of the Holy Spirit even now:

“For this the Spirit came down upon the Son of God who had become the son of man: with him he became accustomed to dwelling with humankind, to resting upon human beings (see Isaiah 11:2; 1 Peter 4:14) and to making his home in God’s creatures; in them he brought about the realization of God’s will, and he renewed them, making them pass from their old condition to the newness of Christ.” (Against the Heresies III.17.1)

In this Easter season, we revel in the resurrection of Jesus. Pentecost calls us to a deeper understanding of how this newness of Christ is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is precisely through our cooperation with the Holy Spirit that this newness of life becomes our own.

As an archdiocese, we are in an important time of pastoral planning. Individually, and as church, life has been altered as a result of the coronavirus. Now is the time for us to prayerfully discern, through the working of the Holy Spirit, what God’s will is for us, and how we are to realize this divine plan.

Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!

Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - May 2020

Archbishop Paul D. Etienne

Archbishop Paul D. Etienne was named Archbishop of Seattle on September 3, 2019 by Pope Francis. Read his blog at

El Arzobispo Paul D. Etienne fue nombrado Arzobispo de Seattle el 3 de septiembre de 2019 por el Papa Francisco. Lea su blog en: