We are blessed to be a Church that sings in many languages but with one voice. We are the Body of Christ with many diverse members but one Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost enlivens us and inspires us to go forth in Jesus’ name to bring the Gospel to every corner of the Earth. The Pentecost story in the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-11) reveals the mission of the Church in its unity and its diversity.
The disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, “began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” The Church continues the legacy of Pentecost as we provide the instrument for the Holy Spirit to reach each individual person in a different way. Each of us brings different gifts to the mission of Evangelization. We can appeal to different people as we speak with the voice of our varied cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, not to mention our many different languages themselves. This diversity truly enriches the Church without threatening Her unity. Our unique individuality serves to add flavor to the mix, not dilute it. The core message is the same: there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Our fidelity to the mission of the Holy Spirit can then be judged by our responsibility to maintain unity and to reach out to the varied peoples of the world. If we wander away from continuity with the Church as the Holy Spirit has guided Her throughout history, we lose the distinctive character that makes us Catholic. We cannot lose our history without losing our identity. At the same time, we are called to be open to new movements of the Holy Spirit—to use our God-given creativity to express the joy of the Gospel in new ways. New developments can be judged by their continuity with history. We do not reject the new simply because it is new, nor the old simply because it is old. With each step, we ask the question: is this action or teaching in accord with what we have received from Sacred Scripture, from the living Tradition of the Church, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit at work in the prayerful leadership of the Magisterium (our bishops in union with the pope? We measure our success or failure in terms of fidelity, not of earthly gains. Is our action or teaching guided by the one Holy Spirit or not?
The Church is the living Body of Christ, inspired and animated by the Holy Spirit. We, the members of Christ’s Body, carry out His mission in manifold ways. Pentecost was only the beginning. Our work of mission continues in the strength of the unity provided by the Holy Spirit and the beauty of the diversity of the members of the Catholic (universal) Church.