Feast of Pentecost

Today is the feast of Pentecost. It is the birth of the Christian church. It is the moment when The Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles. It is the fulfillment of Jesus‘s promise. Repeatedly, Jesus said to His Apostles that He would send the Advocate, the Guide, the Helper.

We believe in God. We believe that God was born as one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. So when Jesus speaks about God, we believe what He says. Jesus spoke of God as Father and as Spirit. Jesus also spoke in terms of Himself. We believe in one God but a Trinity of Divine Persons. This is very different from how we exist. And yet we believe this because it has been revealed to us through Jesus.

The Third Person of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit, also known as the Paraclete. I think it’s safe to say that most of us easily pray to God the Father. Afterall, this is the very prayer Jesus provided when asked how to pray. Our human minds can understand the image of a loving father and therefore somewhat understand this approach and connection to God. It is most likely easiest for us to pray to God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity – Who became one of us. The Word made flesh is Jesus. He is God born as man. We know the most about Him due to the eyewitness accounts in Scripture- most especially the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles.

Today however is the feast of the Holy Spirit coming to the Apostles. What do we know about the Holy Spirit? We believe that all that exists was created by God the Father, through God the Son, by the power of God the Holy Spirit.

I would venture a guess that it is a challenge for most human minds to have a connection to God through the Holy Spirit. We need a concrete image for our minds to embrace. Although all images and human expression does indeed have limitations when trying to understand God, there are things that help us better understand God the Holy Spirit.

One image used throughout Scripture for the Holy Spirit is as the Breath of God. We need to breathe – in order to live. Even when we sleep, our body is breathing in and out. Our brain needs oxygen or it begins to die. Our breath allows us to stay alive. We can understand this. This image is used for the Holy Spirit and is one that is very powerful. When Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, Jesus breathed on them. We can understand that the Holy Spirit is a vital part of the Trinity- in fact, the Holy Spirit gives life to all that exists

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Advocate, our Helper, our Guide. Think about these names as a description of what the Holy Spirit does for us. And what does the Holy Spirit guide us or help us with?

The answer is – to live in the image and likeness of God. Or to say it another way to live in the spirit of God. The Holy Spirit helps us to have things of God in our own mind and heart, in our own soul. It is the Holy Spirit that moves the minds and hearts of the Apostles from fear to bold proclamation. The Apostles were afraid and locked in an upper room hiding. They were afraid to talk about Jesus. Once they received the Holy Spirit, their hearts were on fire to boldly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. The image that comes to mind is a flame hovering above each of their heads. They became impassioned, they became emblazoned, they became “on fire“ for Jesus. They could not contain their joy and desire to share the message of Jesus.

This is why another image for the Holy Spirit is one of fire – hearts set ablaze, burning to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Have you ever known someone whose heart was set on fire? Have you ever known someone filled with passion about a particular thing? I once had a roommate who loved golf. It was his great passion. We would say that John lived and breathed golf. Have you ever said this about someone? She lives and breathes dance. He lives and breathes baseball. I think we can understand this kind of statement.

For those who follow Jesus, we need to live and breathe things of God. We need to live and breathe – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and self-control.

The Holy Spirit helps us to have in our souls things of God such as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear/awe of the Lord. These are known as the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

On the feast of Pentecost, today let us pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to come upon us. Let us continue to pray, “Come Holy Spirit – enter my mind my heart my soul. Give me the gift of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, awe of God.” May we receive these gifts, and in turn give them to others. May we move beyond any fears and live free and fully in the love of God. May we pray daily to the Holy Spirit. May we take in and out the Breath of God in everything we say – in everything we do.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
   they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
   a noise like a strong driving wind,
   and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
   which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
   and began to speak in different tongues,
   as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,
   but they were confused
   because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
   “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
   inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
   Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
   Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,
   as well as travelers from Rome,
   both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,
   yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues
   of the mighty acts of God.”

Responsorial Psalm
104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

R. :

R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.

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;

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

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.

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

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.

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

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit
   and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.
For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,
   and the Spirit against the flesh;
   these are opposed to each other,
   so that you may not do what you want.
But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
   immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry,
   sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
   outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
   dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
   drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
   that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
   patience, kindness, generosity,
   faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
   with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

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 Thine,
   And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we has 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.

Acclamation before the Gospel

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jn 20:19-23 or Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

As the Father sent me, so I send you. Receive the Spirit.

✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

On the evening of that first day of the week,
   when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
   for fear of the Jews,
   Jesus came and stood in their midst
   and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
   “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
   and whose sins you retain are retained.”

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