Pentecost Sunday - Mass during the Day
Reading 1 ACTS 2:1-11
Responsorial Psalm PS 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
- (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
Reading 2 1 COR 12:3B-7, 12-13
Sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel JN 20:19-23
Pentecost Sunday – June 8 & 9, 2019
Growing up, Pentecost meant a family reunion at Grandpa and Grandma Miller’s home in Cascade. I never thought to ask them why they always had a family gathering on Pentecost but I suspect it came from a tradition they had in their “old country” of Luxembourg, Europe. We certainly filled and overflowed their home and enjoyed a family meal that was a banquet of food. It included Strang’s, Bertling’s, and Manternach’s who had married into the Miller family.
In the second chapter of Genesis God creates man from the dust of the earth and brings him to life by blowing into his nostrils. And so Adam comes alive with the very breath of God. God’s breath is all that distinguishes Adam from the lifeless clay. In today’s psalm we hear, “If you take away their breath, they perish / and return to their dust.” The breath of God is an apt metaphor for the spiritual life. Without breath we die within minutes, and yet how often are we actually aware of this essential bodily function.” When I did a sleep study about three years ago, I found out that I would stop breathing while I slept and sometimes for a minute! That is not good for your heart. I now use a bi-pap machine for sleeping to keep me healthier and help me get a better rest at night. When I visit people who have difficulty breathing I certainly sympathize with them and appreciate the gift of breathing that I just assume will be there for me.
The Church prays today, “Renew the face of the earth” asking once again for the Holy Spirit’s voice, wind and fire to shake things up! It hopes believers within the Body of Christ renew and refresh their hearing of Jesus’ message and the words his Father sent for him to preach. In this way, the earth and the Church will be transformed.
Living the Faith every day takes firm courage, unwavering trust and profound love. Modern believers face many crises: addictions, breakups within families, endless manifestations of sex abuse scandals within the Church and the dissatisfaction and discontent with government leaders. All these drain disciples of the hope and joy needed to confront these challenges.
Pentecost is the feast that highlights for believers the Holy Spirit’s passion, zeal and persistence. The Holy Spirit energizes God’s people to discover their gifts and find the boundaries of change needed. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Cor 12:7). The Spirit gives each believer a different gift to share. It will also raise each individual body to new life on the last day. The Holy Spirit remains the advocate protecting disciples everywhere. It encourages every disciple to discern and share their gifts without any distinctions.
The Holy Spirit includes all races, genders, nationalities and cultures. Unity is found in the one Lord, one faith and one baptism. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). Pentecost proclaims that God created our diversity to enrich us so that understanding one another would lead us to grow in community with all of God’s beloved. Paul’s message to the Corinthians says as much. The Spirit gives a variety of gifts without which the whole cannot be truly holy.
Today concludes our paschal feast that began fifty days ago on Easter Sunday. Pentecost means “fifty” in Greek. The decorations will change after today and the paschal candle will be moved back to the baptismal font. Our liturgical calendar invites us to enter into times of fasting and feasting and also into Ordinary Time, where we live and grow in our faith. Perhaps this Ordinary Time will be a good opportunity to heighten our awareness of the breath of God sustaining us in every moment. On this feast of Pentecost we pray for the Spirit of God, the breath of life, to renew the face of the earth and to renew us. If we want Pentecost to come to life in us, today’s Scriptures tell us that forgiveness is the place to start. Pope St. Paul VI wrote “The Church needs a perennial Pentecost. She needs fire in her heart, words on her lips and prophecy in her outlook.” I say Amen to that.