Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pentecost (A)

Acts 2:1-11
Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Jn 20:19-23


"Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth." This is our prayer in the responsorial Psalm for Pentecost. It's the reason the Church can exist and continues to exist. We live in the age of the Holy Spirit. Without the power and presence of the Spirit of Christ, Christianity would have been unable to change the world and sustain itself for 2000 years. Without the Spirit of Christ, we Christians would be unable to do what Christ did.

Pentecost Sunday re-lives the birthday of the Church, and as it does, it also re-lives our spiritual birthdays, i.e., our initiations as members of the Church. It's a community-wide celebration of the impact that our baptisms have had on our lives and it's a reaffirmation of the Sacrament of Confirmation when the bishop confirmed that we truly received the Holy Spirit during our baptism.

Pentecost reminds us that through these sacraments we received God's power and presence so that we can overcome sin, live in holiness, and change the world around us.

How does God "renew the face of the earth"? Through us! First, God the Father gave the Holy Spirit to Jesus so that he could successfully fulfill his calling on earth. Now, the Father has given his Spirit to us, so that we can continue the work of renewal that Jesus began.

If you feel inadequate for any holy task or any righting of a wrong or any victory over sin and unhealthiness, you're correct: You are inadequate. But the Spirit of God who dwells in you is more than adequate. Proceed forward trusting in this partnership!

Questions for Personal Reflection:


Are you making a difference on the earth because of the Holy Spirit living in you and working through you? What is the Holy Spirit doing — or wanting to do — through you? Make a list answering this, beginning with your home life, then your job, then your parish, then your recreational activities, in that order of priority.

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:


How did you first discover that the Holy Spirit was making a difference in the lives of others through you? Describe a recent time when God partnered with you. How do feel about the Spirit renewing the world through you? What are your hopes and dreams for this?


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Shortly after Easter one year, a woman in a parish who had been received into the Church at the Easter Vigil shared that how welcomed she felt in the Catholic family. The sense of openness and tolerance she experienced was especially important to her.

It’s a characteristic of Catholicism to see God’s goodness in all of creation, in various human endeavors, and in the cultures and histories of human beings wherever the gospel is preached. While we haven’t always lived up to that ideal, it was happy that the new parishioner experienced something of that spirit.

That universal dimension is also one of the themes of Pentecost. The dramatic story of the descent of the Holy Spirit tells us how the Holy Spirit can break down walls we may put up between peoples, races, cultures. What we see as obstacles, the Spirit can use to create a new unity, a reversal of the Babel story in Genesis, when people let human arrogance lead to disunity, as one human language fractured into many different tongues.

Today, across our world, a myriad of voices, different languages, and many cultural expressions will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. Let’s join our voices with that Pentecost chorus.


Scripture:

•And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit… (Acts 2:4)

•When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. (Psalm 104:30)

•For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

•Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)

•And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)

Reflection:

•Describe “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

•Explain “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”

•What is John saying when he writes, “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”?

The problem of forming Christ in us is not to be solved by our own efforts. It is not a matter of studying the Gospels and then working to put our ideas into practice, although we should try and do that too, but always under the guidance of grace, in complete subjection to the Holy Spirit.

For if we depend on our own ideas, our own judgment and our own efforts to reproduce the life of Christ, we will only act out some pious charade which will ultimately scare everybody we meet because it will be so stiff and artificial and so dead.

It is the Spirit of God that must teach us Who Christ is and form Christ in us and transform us into other Christs.


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