Pentecost

“The Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and took His seat at the right hand of God.” At the Vigil Mass: Entrance Antiphon: Rom 5:5; cf. 8:11 — “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us, alleluia.” First Reading: Gen 11:1-9 — “It was called Babel because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world.” Responsorial Psalm: Ps 33(32):10-11, 12-13, 14-15 — “Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be His own.” Second Reading: Ex 19:3-8a, 16-20b — “The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai before all the people.” Responsorial Psalm: Ps 19(18):8, 9, 10, 11 — “Lord, You have the words of everlasting life.” Third Reading: Ez 37:1-14 — “Dry bones of Israel, I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.” Responsorial Psalm: Ps 107(106):2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 — “Give thanks to the Lord; His love is everlasting” Fourth Reading: Jl 3:1-5 — “I will pour out My spirit upon the servants and handmaids.” Responsorial Psalm: Ps 104:1-2, 24, 35, 27-28, 29, 30 — “Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Epistle: Rom 8:22-27 — “The Spirit intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” Alleluia: “Alleluia, alleluia. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Alleluia, alleluia.” Gospel: Jn 7:37-39 — “Rivers of living water will flow” Communion Antiphon: Jn 7:37 — “On the last day of the festival, Jesus stood and cried out: ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink,’ alleluia.” Pentecost Sunday: Entrance Antiphon: Rom 5:5; cf. 8:11 — “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us, alleluia.” First Reading: Acts 2:1-11 — “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak.” Responsorial Psalm: Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 — “Lord, send out Your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Second Reading: 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 — “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Sequence: “Veni, Sancte Spiritus … Come, Holy Spirit, come!” Alleluia: “Alleluia, alleluia. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Alleluia, alleluia.” Gospel: Jn 20:19-23 — “As the Father sent Me, so I send you; Receive the Holy Spirit.” Communion Antiphon: Acts 2:4, 11 — “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke of the marvels of God, alleluia.” During an election year, we see and hear practically every candidate promising new beginnings. “Once I am elected ... or re-elected ... things will be different,” they say. “I’ll start by doing things differently.” “I’ll get it right.” Well, whether any candidate can change Washington is beyond our scope in the Eucharist. But what we are celebrating today really was, and is, a new beginning. The Holy Spirit made a difference and got things right ... and still does. Saint Luke describes the Pentecost event using symbols that perhaps we might miss. Scripture scholars help us fill in the gap of 2,000 years so that we can hear the full message of the account in Acts. First, we need to remember that the first disciples were Jews and were well versed in the meaning of Jewish feasts. They had celebrated the Feast of Passover with Jesus and had witnessed His reinterpretation of that great event of Jewish history as He offered His own Passover from death to resurrected life. He told them that from now on they were to celebrate this feast, not in memory of the great Exodus from Egypt, but “in memory of Me.” Fifty days later, we find the Apostles back in Jerusalem ready to celebrate another Jewish feast in commemoration of the Jewish law. Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Passover by the Jewish people. It is also known as the Feast of Weeks or the Harvest Holiday when they celebrated the summer wheat harvest and prepared for the new agricultural season. The Apostles had prepared themselves for something new by restoring their membership to twelve (they had elected Matthias as a replacement for Judas) and they were in prayer in obedience to Jesus who had told them to return to Jerusalem and wait. Reminiscent of the story of the creation of the world told in Genesis, we hear that a great wind was heard. In the creation story the wind (the word for wind ... ruah ... also means spirit) Ruah Elohim … the breath, the wind, the Spirit of God blew over the chaos and brought order into God’s creation. In the second creation account, God breathed life … breathed His Spirit into the clay that became man. Now that great wind is blowing again, making the Apostles into a new creation filled with the Holy Spirit. The next symbol is fire, reminiscent of many Old Testament events in which God’s presence was in the fire. (Maybe we can think immediately of the story of Moses and the burning bush.) Here God is present in the Holy Spirit enflaming the hearts of the Apostles with courage and faith ... hearts that had been filled with fear and timidity. Saint Luke says that the Apostles began to proclaim the truth about Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. They were no longer afraid or intimidated. Suddenly all of the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for a Jewish feast celebrating the law heard the Good News of the new Law of Love inaugurated by Jesus in their own languages. A number of spiritual writers see this as a testimony that the Church will spread the Good News to all peoples in all times and places. And indeed, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been proclaimed in many, many languages. In his Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul tells us to “live by the Spirit.” We are now called to witness to the new creation effected by the Holy Spirit as we proclaim Jesus in our every thought, word, and action. After listing the activities no follower of Jesus should ever be involved in, Saint Paul mentions the fruits of a Spirit-filled life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. A life characterized by these virtues will witness to the power of the Spirit acting in and through us. Thus we will be witnessing to the new creation and Law of Love begun at Pentecost. As Saint John so clearly states in his Gospel, the Spirit of truth will guide you to all truth. Today, as we celebrate the birthday of the Church and gather around this altar ... this table, we are doing what Jesus did at the Last Supper and on the cross … we are doing exactly what He wanted us to do. We are acting in memory of Him. It is here that we find the power of the Holy Spirit to make us bold witnesses of the Word so that people of all nations and languages can continue to hear the message in their own languages.

Pentecost