Jesus tried to give us the Holy Spirit three times. When He died on Calvary He gave over His Spirit (Jn 19:30), although only a few were present to receive the Spirit. Jesus' second attempt to give us the Holy Spirit was on the first resurrection night. He breathed on His apostles and commanded: "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22). It seems that they did not receive because they stayed locked up in the upper room. The Church received the fullness of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, after having devoted themselves to constant prayer for nine days (Acts 1:14).
Prayer is one of the keys to receiving the Holy Spirit. "If [we], with all [our] sins, know how to give [our] children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him" (Lk 11:13). However, Jesus' followers have traditionally had difficulty spending one hour a day with Him in prayer (see Mt 26:40). Like Martha, we are sometimes upset with others who pray and with the Lord Who calls them to pray (see Lk 10:40ff). We must honestly admit that we are not praying people, praying families, or praying couples. However, prayer is necessary to receive the Spirit.
The Ascension of Jesus is the most powerful and successful call to prayer in the Bible. After the Ascension, apostles who didn't pray an hour in the garden of Gethsemani devoted themselves to constant prayer (Acts 1:14). On this holy day of the Ascension, the Lord offers us a special invitation to pray and a gift to pray. Accept the invitation, pray, and receive the Spirit.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from April 1, 2008 through May 31, 2008.
†Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 23, 2007.