Pentecost Sunday, May 11, 2008

Acts 2: 1 - 11

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

John 20: 19 - 23


A Word of Explanation:

The Book of the Acts, Chapter 2, tells about the first Pentecost as it occurred in the house; it is followed by St. Peters discourse explaining the saving meaning for the whole people. Jesus had foretold the outpouring of the Spirit: "You will be baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1, 5). The Pentecost event cannot be separated from the Ascension; it is like the reverse side of a medal. Together, they signify the fulfillment, of Moses going up on Sinai where he received the word (cf. Ex 19, 20), and his going down to the people to whom he communicated the ten commandments (cf. Ex 19, 25). The going up to Heaven by Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit are two facets of the same reality: in the same action, Jesus is exalted at the right hand of God and sends the Spirit of promise to the Messianic community. From the Apostolic era to the fourth century, Ascension and Pentecost were celebrated on the same day, uniting in a sole celebration Jesus Ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.


In the Gospel of John Jesus gives peace as his first gift. In the Old Testament, peace was considered already the gift of God representing eschatalogical salvation (Is 52, 7). This is, then, what Jesus offers at his Resurrection: to his disciples he offers the gift of the peace for the entire length of history. Peace be with you! Peace! because he is present in each ones personal history and accompanies us; peace! because he does not leave us alone. This assurance should not make us turn inward for this gift also sends us on mission; it is a vocation: "As the Father has sent me, I also send you." With the power of Gods grace, we have to give witness to the resurrection of Christ

The second gift from Jesus is the Spirit: "Having said these things, he breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit'. In the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit is the protector and defender. Through Jesus prayer, the Spirit is sent to us by the Father. The Spirit continues to guide Jesus disciples, reminds them of his words, makes them his witnesses. He will be their protector in the world which will not welcome them, just as it refused to welcome Jesus.

In the Acts of the Apostles, the Pentecost event is described as a theophany: wind and fire are the manifestation of Gods presence. It is, indeed, the coming of the Spirit of holiness on the disciples, filling them and making them capable of giving witness. It is the beginning of the Ministry of the Word which prolongs in history the prophetic mission of Jesus himself. The word of the Apostles is directed to all: a prodigious power adapts their word to each listener and culture. The hearers are astounded, stupefied, full of confusion, becoming just like the builders of the Tower of Babel. But, in the episode about the Tower of Babel, mans pride was the cause of the diversity of tongues; while here, the Holy Spirit grants the witnesses the gift of speaking to each one in the diversity of their tongues.

With the coming of the Spirit on the Apostles, the time of the Church is inaugurated. The outpouring of the Spirit brings the Church into existence and sends her forth on her universal mission. The gift of the Spirit is the power to give witness to Jesus Christ by word and act. The Church, born of the Spirit, is, by definition, a missionary community. Each one receives the Spirit, the sign of the last days, in view of giving witness. For each of us it is the invitation to render witness in the humble knowledge that Another acts in us and through us but not without us !

Holy Spirit of God, come into our hearts so that our way of being and acting may be always more closely in harmony with the ways of God. May our lives be an epiphany of the love that unites the Father and Son in the Spirit.

Sr. Sophie Ramond, R.A.