Sunday, 19 May 2013

Fire from Heaven: Feast of the Pentecost. March 19

 Yesterday, we celebrated the birth of the Church. That moment in time when the apostles received not just a commission to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel to all they meet, but the ability to do so with gifts and talents given to them by the Holy Spirit.  There are many themes around the Pentecost: The Gifts of the Spirit, speaking in tongues, evangelizing.But the principal theme  for me -as you will have noticed by now!- is unity.
 One commentator noted that what's key about Pentecost is recognizing that the unity generated by the spirit is rooted in diversity. If you've ready my previous entry, you'll see that I disagree with that.  Yes there's diversity, but it is not the root of the unity that the Spirit brings us: Faith, hope and love are. The pillars of our Church. With that faith, we are capable of a great love, which can be a source of profound hope for the world. That hope, becomes what unites us, and that unity is the great gift that the spirit continues to bring us every day. 

 Pope Francis had a bit of an insight on unity during his Pentecost homily: " on that day, the unity came, not as God's desire for uniformity, but for harmony."For contrary to what many in the secular world believe, the Church is not about uniformity. God never intended for us to be the same (contrary to what some traditionalists believe!) He intended for us to love as he had loved, and to be in union with God through our love of Jesus, and of the entire world. With that in mind, diversity is almost to be expected. 

  This is why both the first and second reading today speak of many gifts, or many parts of the one body. Each part of our body has a role to play, just as every member of the Church can play a role in building the kingdom of God.  At the heart of that mission however, is contemplation..
 Not only do we need to contemplate God and his works, but we  need to contemplate our gifts, our talents, and to contemplate how they can serve God by committing these talents to the well being of others. That too, is the call we receive on Pentecost. Evangelizing is central. Going out into the world, bringing the Good News of the Gospel to all who desire to hear it. But we need to remember  that a big part of that evangelizing is not just talking to others about Jesus, but being Jesus to others. Being love, compassion, and forgiveness to others, so that we can help build a stronger harmony in our world. This is not always the way of the world. That is why we need the power of the spirit with us at all times. That is why Pentecost is so central to the history of Christ's body, our Holy and Catholic Church.

Acts 2: 1 - 11

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.2And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.7And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?8And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?9Par'thians and Medes and E'lamites and residents of Mesopota'mia, Judea and Cappado'cia, Pontus and Asia,10Phryg'ia and Pamphyl'ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre'ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,11Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."

Psalms 104: 1, 24, 29 - 31, 34

1Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, thou art very great! Thou art clothed with honor and majesty,24O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures.29When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust.30When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground.31May the glory of the LORD endure for ever, may the LORD rejoice in his works,34May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.

First Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13

3 Because of that, I want to make it quite clear to you that no one who says 'A curse on Jesus' can be speaking in the Spirit of God, and nobody is able to say, 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit.
4 There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit;
5 there are many different ways of serving, but it is always the same Lord.
6 There are many different forms of activity, but in everybody it is the same God who is at work in them all.
7 The particular manifestation of the Spirit granted to each one is to be used for the general good.
12 For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts -- all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body -- so it is with Christ.
13 We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink.

John 20: 19 - 23

19On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."

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