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PENTECOST SUNDAY — MAY 31, 2020

Words bout the WORD
Saint Gabriel
Pentecost Sunday
May 31, 2020

 

Acts 2:1-11

There were years of the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost before the first Christian Pentecost of which we heard God speak today. In those earlier observances the faithful Israelites gathered from near and far to praise God in one body for the giving of the Covenant Law at Mount Sinai. This took place fifty days after the other great Feast of Passover. So it was a day to commemorate and share in the wondrous display of God’s love in leading his people in the way of life that would be their salvation — the Commandments of the Lord.

The disciples of Jesus, now fifty days since his resurrection, were gathered as one in the Upper Room. Reminiscent of the theophany of Sinai God revealed his presence in the great noise of wind and flame. This presence of God revealed itself in tongues of fire descending upon each and every one of them so much so that the Spirit of God came upon them and dwelt within them. These unusual events happened in the morning and startled the numerous faithful Israelites in the City. Peter appears before the crowd and explains that God by his action was fulfilling his promise through the prophets of old to place his very Spirit within the hearts of his people so that they would live the Covenant to the fullest. All of this came about through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and was to spread throughout the world through the mission given by Christ to go out to all the world and bring the Good News. Peter’s listeners, many of them, accepted God’s word and were joined to “the Church” through baptism. God was in the midst of his people working his salvation in this world.

 

Responsorial Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 (cf. 30)

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

 

The Holy Spirit of God is sent to us by the Father and Son. The Spirit then is a gift from God. Just as a gift does not become a gift unless it is both given and received (welcomed), so the gift of the Holy Spirit must be taken into our hearts and that we must show God and the world that his Spirit resides in us by the way we live. The first way we show this is by praising and giving thanks to God for what he is doing for us. That is what this psalm is. Every line is a proclamation and acclamation of God’s greatness. We accept the gift of the Spirit this day by making this psalm our own. So together with the Church we are united in singing God’s praises. We have only a few lines here. The whole psalm is one of those poetic masterpieces of the Bible. Thanks be to God for handing this on to us. Mean every word of it. You will have to repeat it several times to get the full impact of it.

 

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!

How manifold are your works, O Lord!

the earth is full of your creatures;

 

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;

may the LORD be glad in his works!

Pleasing to him be my theme;

I will be glad in the LORD.

 

If you take away their breath, they perish

and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the earth.

 

Alternate version of today’s Collect/Gathering Prayer

This very day, Lord of all creation, in this celebration of the mystery of Pentecost you bring heavenly holiness to your Church among all peoples and in all nations of the world. Send out the gifts of the Holy Spirit over the vast expanse of your creation and maintain in the hearts of believers the work of your faithful covenant love which you brought forth at the beginning of the preaching of the Good News of salvation.

 

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13

God is the one God and Creator and Redeemer of his people. The marvelous wisdom of God and love of his creation shines forth in the fact that in his creatures is a great variety. All are not identical in every respect. The miracle of God’s ways is that he is able to bring his creation together to form his people into a unity which keeps us in awe of him. He does this through his gift of the one Spirit of Jesus. In man’s small way of thinking he mistakenly thinks that he will be greatest when he chooses to go his own way — he creates his own world. But God wants his creatures to be like himself united as one, sharing the delights of the community of divine love. By freely choosing this way of life and following it man is at his greatest, loving others on God’s terms. This plan of God can be seen in the Lord building us into a “Church” — the body of Christ with it diversity and unity. This is what Paul captures in this reading. He rightly attributes this unity to the presence of the one Holy Spirit. Pentecost reveals the unity of the Church. That is why the appropriate manner of joining in this God-given unity is the Eucharist as we share in the one Christ and his one Spirit.

 

 

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.

You, of comforters the best;

You, the soul’s most welcome guest;

Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;

Grateful coolness in the heat;

Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,

Shine within these hearts of yours,

And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,

Nothing good in deed or thought,

Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

On our dryness pour your dew;

Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;

Melt the frozen, warm the chill;

Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore

And confess you, evermore

In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;

Give them your salvation, Lord;

Give them joys that never end. Amen.

 

John 20:19-23

Pentecost Sunday is a time of rejoicing. This we see in the reaction of the disciples when the risen Christ appears to them on that first Easter evening. Their first question was whether they were seeing the real Christ that they knew so well. He showed them the wounds of his suffering which were what caused his death but he was alive, walking about as the days of old. But there was something different. Christ was acting like God when he created Adam. He was breathing his Spirit into them. In accepting God’s life the disciples were accepting the mission Jesus was entrusting to them. It may seem to be an unusual commission — forgive, bring the world to reconciliation with God. Can they really carry this out? Yes, if God’s breath (the Spirit) is within them. This is what Jesus preached from the very beginning right after the Spirit descended upon him at his baptism. The loving and forgiving God is here. Turn to him. Let him love you by renewing his Covenant among you. This is the peace Christ has brought and does so today.