Pentecost Sunday Mass during the Day May 15, 2016
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. R. 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
Alleluia, alleluia. 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, Year C, May 15, 2016
Things are getting exciting in Jerusalem these days. It’s been 50 days since Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and his disciples are afraid they will be targeted next. All three of today’s scripture readings speak of the Holy Spirit. The first reading tells the story of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in the form of tongues of fire, accompanied by the roar of a strong wind.
The Gospel reading tells us how Jesus appeared in the midst of the gathering of frightened disciples, which certainly surprised them since they had carefully locked the doors or fear of the Jews who had crucified their friend Jesus.
But suddenly there he stood, alive and well, and to prove he was really who he claimed to be, Jesus showed them the marks of the nails in his hands and the scar where the lance had been thrust into his side. Then he greeted his friends by saying, “Peace be with you.” This was not merely a greeting – it was a promise. “Peace be with you.”
Ever since the crucifixion, the disciples of Jesus had definitely NOT been at peace. They had been filled with fear and uncertainty. The reason they were together this day in a locked room was because they were afraid.
So Jesus promised them peace – and this peace was to bring them out of the locked room, out among the people, out to preach the message of Jesus, fearlessly and confidently.
Fear is a terrible feeling. It is a straight-jacket that prevents us from doing many things we could – and should – do. Have you ever experienced fear? Have you ever felt paralyzing effect it can have on you? Of course you have, and so have I. Let me tell you about it.
Some years ago, a young couple, neighbors and friends of mine, gave birth to a baby girl. Sadly she died within a few hours of her birth. Her father came home to dismantle the nursery he and his wife had so lovingly prepared and decorated. He was alone in his house, and I knew I should go and visit him, to help ease the pain of his loss, or at least be there and let him know I cared.
But I was afraid. Afraid of saying the wrong thing. Afraid of not knowing WHAT to say. Afraid of …………. I don’t know what. So I stayed in my own house, and like the disciples, I locked the door.
It’s not that I didn’t care. I really did, but I was afraid. I needed someone like Jesus to come to me and bid me PEACE. If only I had prayed for peace, maybe the Holy Spirit would have helped me, but I was even too afraid to pray. How sad. How tragic. How terribly wrong!
How many times has fear stood in the way of your doing something you could do, and SHOULD do, but didn’t?
Did you ever remain silent when someone was being unjustly slandered or gossiped about? Sure you have. So have I. Why? Was it because of fear? Probably.
Have you ever walked past a stranger who needed help without offering any? Sure you have. So have I. Why? Was it because of fear? Probably.
Several years ago a close family friend was diagnosed with AIDS, and his mother asked if I would visit him in the hospital. This was in the early years when AIDS was considered a 20th century plague just like leprosy was feared in the time of Jesus.
For several days I managed to come up with some very legitimate reasons for not going to the hospital to visit him, until I got honest with myself and admitted that I was crippled by fear. I walked down the hospital corridor past his room several times, praying that I could to build up the courage to go in.
I finally entered his room and took his hand, wondering what I had been so fearful of. He was the same person I had known since he was a little boy. I believe the Holy Spirit helped me overcome my fear, and helped me find the peace to be with my friend and help him die.
Jesus probably wondered why his disciples were so fearful too. After all, they should have been out carrying on his work. His greeting of PEACE was the beginning of their freedom from fear. And we too can have that peace. Fear cannot exist where there is peace. They just don’t mix.
The tongues of fire that came to rest on the disciples were tangible signs that the Holy Spirit had come to them, and brought them the peace that Jesus promised them.
Today as we reflect on the message of Scripture, let us ask ourselves what fears are keeping OUR doors locked. Let us pray that we allow the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts, and release us from the bondage of fear, by filling us with the gift of PEACE.
Then like the disciples, we can boldly carry on the work Jesus began in every single one of us.