Pentecost Sunday: Year B
Vigil Mass Readings
Genesis 11:1-9 or Exodus 19:3-8A, 16-20B
or Ezekiel 37:1-14 or Joel 3:1-5
Psalm 104: 1-2, 24, 35, 27-28, 29, 30
Romans 8:22-27; John 7:37-39
Mass of the Day
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
1 Corinthians 12:3B-7, 12-13 or Galatians 5:16 -25
John 20:19 -23 or John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
As we celebrate the Birthday of the Church at Pentecost, we acknowledge unity in the midst of great diversity. When we examine the long-standing history of the Church we acknowledge a religious experience that has seen many deaths and resurrections. Our ancestors created the ongoing saga of salvation history as they strived to pass on the faith in their own particular way. The Christian story encompasses the diversity of the past and the present, celebrating unity in the Spirit. This same Spirit, bestowed upon the apostles at Pentecost, continues to move and breathe in the Church as she journeys through time.
We are reminded in our readings today that even though we are many members, we are baptized into one body. In Eucharistic Prayer III, we pray that we become “…one Body, one Spirit in Christ.” Every individual in the Church has a particular role to play. There is vast experience present in the diversity of any congregation. As baptized Catholic Christians we share in the priestly and prophetic ministry of Jesus Christ. Each one of us is called to give witness to Christ in our own circumstance. The Spirit continues to inspire the Church to be the compassion of Christ in the world today. It is our duty to uphold the dignity and sanctity of life. We are obliged to respond to the world’s need by sharing the little we have with those who have none. In the gospel of John, Jesus is seen offering a peace that the world cannot give and imparts the gift of the Spirit to the disciples, giving them authority to continue his redemptive work. Likewise, this same Spirit is bestowed upon us to continue this journey into transformation.
On the day of Pentecost the disciples had locked themselves away in fear. The Spirit filled their hearts and enabled them to speak in ways that they never had before. Their fears were cast aside. The disciples began to form a new community of faith – using boldness in a way they had never used it before. Jesus had filled them with the Father. The imparting of the Holy Spirit solidified Jesus’ wisdom in their hearts. These followers began to understand, depending on the counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and the fear of the Lord that the Holy Spirit had given them on that first Pentecost. They went out in unity, making Jesus’ message known. Through their witness, they began to reshape the world around them creating a new civilization in which Christ would be the center.
The Holy Spirit freely offers this fruit of courage to boldly give witness to our faith. Even though we approach the work of the Church in various ways, we are called to unity in the message of the gospel of love. Some may be conservative in their expression of faith, others liberal, while still others are moderate in their religious experience. It is important to remember that no matter where we find ourselves on the scale of discernment, we are called to unity in Christ. Each one of us is asked to be faithful to the teachings that enable us to be called Catholic Christians. All members of the Body of Christ are equal but have a particular role and service to offer. Everyone in the Church contributes to building the kingdom of God. We are asked to seek together, the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. As we search for these gifts, the presence of God will be evident in what we do and say. It is then that we begin to reshape the world around us that often stands in opposition to the will of God and create, in the words of Paul VI, “a civilization of love and peace”.
Image: Pentecost depicted in artwork in The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. (Catholic News Service/Crosiers/May 1, 2009)
We pray: Holy Spirit of life, inspire and move us to create a kingdom of justice, love and peace. May we never allow ourselves to be an obstacle to your message of unfailing love. Enable us to appreciate the vast experience of the Mystical Body and embrace the gift of diversity. We also pray that we will use wisely these gifts so that others may be brought to knowledge and love of You, our God. Let the courage of the Holy Spirit lead and guide us until the end of time. Amen.
Reflecting on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, contemplate the following questions:
How do I use the wisdom of God when making choices?
Am I in touch with the voice of the Holy Spirit with me in order to understand God’s will and my purpose?
Whose counsel do I consider: God’s or the worlds?
Do I accept the gift of fortitude in order to be courageous in giving witness to my faith’s values?
How do I accept the knowledge gifted by the Holy Spirit to enable me to discover what God wants from me?
Do I cherish the gift of piety in which I show God love and reverence?
Have I an adequate fear of hurting the Lord by offending him through my actions?
Wisdom of the Fathers
“Although to some it may seem strange
Pentecost is an event that also involves the secular world.
For it gave rise to a new sociology —
one which penetrates the values of the spirit,
which forms our hierarchy of values,
and which confronts us with the truth,
and with the ultimate destiny of humanity.
It is this which has given us our belief
in the dignity of the human person,
and our civil customs,
and which above all leads us to resolutely rise above
all divisions and conflicts between humans,
and to form humanity into a single family of the children of God,
free and fraternal.
We recall the symbolism
at the beginning of this amazing story,
of the miracle of many different languages
being made comprehensible to everyone by the Spirit.
It is the civilization of love and of peace
which Pentecost has inaugurated —
and we are all aware how much today
the world still needs love and peace!”
— Pope Paul VI’s Regina Coeli Address
On Pentecost Sunday (May 17th, 1970)