Today is the Sunday of Pentecost, the 50th day after Jesus' resurrection at Easter. Here is an excellent explanation of Pentecost
, and its significance for Christians. Note the many correlations between the events of the Jews' liberation from Egypt and the beginning of their journey toward the promised land, and the Christians' liberation from the Law and the beginning of their journey toward personal fellowship with God.
The scriptural readings for today amplify and support the Bede's sermon. First, Acts 2:1-11
relates how the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples, enabling them to preach God's Good News even in languages they did not know; this preaching is not in the past tense - it is God's Word to all of us NOW! This is the birthday of the Church, and the date of its empowerment enabling it to fulfill Jesus' commission to go into all the world and make disciples of all people.
The second reading is either 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
or Galatians 5:16-25
. Paul was very concerned for the Christians in Corinth. A charismatic group had started there, and were beginning to brag that those Christians who did not have the gift of tongues were "second-class"; this was causing great division among them. Paul does NOT condemn the charismatics or the speaking of tongues, but he emphasizes the gifts of the Spirit must be used for the building up of the community, not for dividing it. Paul says much the same thing to the Galatians: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Spirit who gives them all; therefore, no gift is "better" than any of the others. Moreover, all the Christians are One Body together; the gifts given to one member of that body are to be used for the benefit of the whole Body. If a Christian truly confesses that Jesus is his Lord, unspiritual bragging has no place in his life; his whole concern is the benefit of other members of the Body.
But note the fruits of those who do or do not confess Jesus as Lord, and compare those fruits with the direction of the society in which we live.
Choice is also offered in today's Gospel teaching, either John 20:19-23
or John 15:26-27, 16:12-15
. These passages are John's theological descriptions of the events recorded in Acts 2.
The disciples are AFRAID. But Jesus appears among them and offers them the Grace of his peace. They need peace to settle their fear so Jesus can accomplish his main purpose in meeting with them: To send them forth on their commission to evangelize the world, and to empower them to do that. Note the Graces that Jesus gives his disciples - and to us today by inheritance from them: He gives them the Holy Spirit, and he gives them power to remit or to retain the sins of the people. And they will not go out alone; the Holy Spirit will go with them to encourage and strengthen them, and will witness to them about Christ. The Spirit will reveal new things, but he will never contradict what the Word has already said.
(Many of the thoughts in this post came from the "New St Joseph Sunday Missal", 1999, pages 852-860)
In faith, Dave
Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.