Sunday Church at Home
during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic
The Spirit, New Law For The Christians.
The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:
Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
All reply: Amen
Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
All reply: Blessed be God for ever
Leader: Today is Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church. We are celebrating, not only a momentous event that happened long ago, but the outpouring of God’s love into our lives day by day.
LITURGY OF THE WORD
First Reading: Acts 2:1-11
Introduction to the reading: Pentecost was a Jewish feast that celebrated the beginning of the harvest. It took place 50 days after the feast of Passover. Jewish pilgrims came to Jerusalem from all over the ancient world for the celebration of the feast. Today we hear how Pentecost became a Christian feast.
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles
When the day of Pentecost had come,
they were all together in one place.
And suddenly a sound came from heaven
like the rush of a mighty wind,
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
distributed and resting on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews,
devout people from every nation under heaven.
And at this sound, the multitude came together,
and they were bewildered
because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
And they were amazed and wondered, saying,
“Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
And how is it that we hear,
each of us in his own native language?
Parthians and Medes and Elamites
and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene,
and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Cretans and Arabians,
we hear them telling in our own tongues
the mighty works of God.”
The word of the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 104:1ab & 24ac.29bc-30.31 & 34 (R. cf.30)
Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:
R/. Lord, send forth your Spirit,
and renew the face of the earth.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, how great you are,
How many are your works, O Lord!
The earth is full of your creatures.
You take away their breath, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came.
You send forth your spirit, and they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the Lord last forever!
May the Lord rejoice in his works!
May my thoughts be pleasing to him.
I will rejoice in the Lord.
R/. Lord, send forth your Spirit,
and renew the face of the earth.
Second Reading: Romans 8:8-17
Introduction to the reading: Today’s passage comes from chapter eight of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which stresses the importance of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians. Paul wants us to remember that the Spirit who will raise our bodies on the last day is the same Spirit who inspires us to holiness every day. Today Paul offers a sharp contrast between life in the flesh (meaning life prone to sin) and life in the Spirit.
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans.
Brothers and sisters:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh,
you are in the Spirit
if the Spirit of God really dwells in you.
Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ
does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although your bodies are dead because of sin,
your spirits are alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead
dwells in you,
he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also
through his Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors,
not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—
for if you live according to the flesh you will die,
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body
you will live.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery
to fall back into fear,
but you have received the spirit of sonship.
When we cry, “Abba! Father!”
it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,
provided we suffer with him
in order that we may also be glorified with him.
The word of the Lord.
Leader: The reader now proclaims the SEQUENCE
Come, Holy Spirit,
and from heaven direct on mankind the rays of your light.
Come, Father of the poor;
come, giver of God’s gifts;
come, light of people’s hearts.
Kindly Paraclete, in your gracious visits to mankind’s soul
you bring relief and consolation.
If it is weary with toil, you bring it ease;
in the heat of temptation, your grace cools it;
if sorrowful, your words console it.
Light most blessed, shine on the hearts of your faithful
even into their darkest corners;
for without your aid mankind can do nothing good,
And everything is sinful.
Wash clean the sinful soul,
rain down your grace on the parched soul
and heal the injured soul.
Soften the hard heart,
cherish and warm the ice-cold heart,
and give direction to the wayward.
Give your seven holy gifts to your faithful,
for their trust is in you.
Give them reward for their virtuous acts;
give them a death that ensured salvation;
give them unending bliss.
Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful;
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Gospel: John 14:15-16.23b-26
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me,
you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Counsellor,
to be with you forever.
If a person loves me,
he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our home with him.
The one who does not love me
does not keep my words,
and the word which you hear is not mine
but the Father’s who sent me.These things I have spoken to you,
while I am still with you.
But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
he will teach you all things,
and bring to your remembrance
all that I have said to you.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection on the Readings
The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.
An old beggar lay on his deathbed. His last words were to his young son who had been his constant companion during his begging trips. “Dear son,” he said, “I have nothing to give you except a cotton bag and a dirty bronze bowl which I got in my younger days from the junk yard of a rich lady.” After his father’s death, the boy continued begging, using the bowl his father had given him. One day a gold merchant dropped a coin in the boy’s bowl and he was surprised to hear a familiar ring. “Let me check your bowl,” the merchant said. To his great surprise, he found that the beggar’s bowl was made of pure gold. “My dear young man,” he said, “why do you waste your time begging? You are a rich man. That bowl of yours is worth at least thirty thousand dollars.” — We Christians are often like this beggar boy who failed to recognize and appreciate the value of his bowl. We fail to appreciate the infinite worth of the Holy Spirit living within each of us, sharing His gifts and fruits and charisms with us. On this major feast day, we are invited to experience and appreciate the transforming, sanctifying, and strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit within us. This is also a day for us to renew our promises made to God during our Baptism and Confirmation, to profess our Faith, and to practice it.
For 50 days we have been remembering the appearances of Jesus after his Resurrection. The disciples have received instructions and were waiting. They were all in one place – waiting – and then they experienced their baptism by fire and the Holy Spirit. There appeared on them what looked like tongues of fire. They didn’t need a fire extinguisher – they were experiencing the Holy Spirit
And when the disciples began to preach, the people were confused because they all understood them in their own language. People were accustomed to boundaries that divided one group from another. The old, separations and divisions fell away as a bunch of ordinary Galileans shared a message that set their hearts on fire.
We remember the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament – Babel became the symbol of human pride, marked by the confusion of language among peoples (Gen. 11: 1-9). Babel was the sign of division and dispersion; Pentecost is a sign of unity and community.
Pentecost was first a feast of the Jewish people. It celebrated fifty days after the Passover, and was called the Feast of Weeks because it came 7 weeks after Passover. At first it was an agricultural feast, a celebration of the wheat harvest. Later it expanded to include the remembrance of God’s giving the law on Sinai. Thus, it was a celebration of the new community formed by God.
The Holy Spirit did not suddenly appear at Pentecost. The Christmas story reminds us that the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and the Word – Jesus -became flesh. The Spirit also filled Elizabeth, Zechariah, Anna and Simeon with thanks and joy. The Holy Spirit is a living and active presence in Jesus’ ministry. Just as his baptism marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, now Pentecost, with its baptism in the Holy Spirit, marks the beginning of the church’s ministry to the world.
The book of the Act of the Apostles is not just the story of what the first Christians did. It is the story of what believers can do who have received the “tongues as of fire.” – the Holy Spirit. Those who received the Spirit will “act” – empowered by the Spirit, they will go to the ends of the earth, to all people and languages, to proclaim the gospel.
This is how God is one with us in helping communicate God’s blessing upon all of creation. Easy to be a little discouraged as we look at our world: We have experienced 2 ½ years of pandemic, we see the corruption, violence and unemployment in RSA. The pollution like plastics accumulating in the oceans and getting into the food chain and damaging our health; The wars and the millions of migrants and refugees.
We forget the we are living longer and healthier and have more food than ever before in the history of humanity. It is true that food is unequally distributed – leaving millions in poverty. Despite all this, today we celebrate God’s continual presence with us as we preach and heal, reach out to the needy and help forge a Spirit-inspired unity among all people.
Today we are reminded that the Holy Spirit is constantly with us now. We are a Pentecost people and today is Pentecost. So is tomorrow and each day after that! What can we do to show our faith in the Spirit’s abiding presence in our church?
We try to be Spirit-filled Christians: Spirit-filled people acknowledge their weaknesses, ask for the strengthening, anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit every morning, ask for His forgiveness every evening, and pass on that forgiveness to those who sin against them.
Spirit-filled people are praying people. Paul encourages us, “Pray on every occasion as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray for all God’s people” (Eph 6:18).
Spirit-filled people are praying and worshipping God in their families and parishes. They try to grow continually in their Faith, and they seek out every opportunity to discover Christ and what it means to be children of God.
Spirit-filled people are people who allow the Spirit to change their lives through their daily reading of the Bible and their frequenting of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.
Spirit-filled people speak words that heal, restore, make people happy and build people up, instead of tearing them down.
Spirit-filled people pass on the love of God to the people living around them by their acts of kindness, mercy and charity.
Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit for a spirit of love instead of hate, a spirit of helpfulness instead of non-cooperation, a spirit of generosity instead of greed, and a spirit of gentleness in place of our spirit of ruthlessness.
From today’s Gospel reading:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he said this he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit…”
The disciples’ history is one of failure and dispersion. But with the gift of the Spirit they will be formed into a church that will leave their confined quarters and go to proclaim the risen Christ they have personally experienced.
On this feast of the enlivening and invigorating Spirit we ask ourselves:
- With the new breath of Jesus’ Spirit how are we responding to his mandate to go and be his witnesses?
- Are we forgiving our enemies, showing compassion and empathy and care to those who need it?
Prayer of the Faithful
Moved by the Holy Spirit, let us make our prayers and petitions known.
We pray for the Church: that the Spirit will empower us to faithfully follow Christ and bring Good News to all are burdened or who have lost hope.
LORD HEAR US
We pray for a renewal of the Gifts of the Spirit in our lives: that we may recognize and use all the gifts that God has given us for the good of others and the fulfillment of the mission of Jesus
LORD HEAR US
We pray for a Spirit of hope: that all who are overwhelmed by life may find new reasons to live this day and be gifted with a vision of all that could be tomorrow.
LORD HEAR US
We pray for a Spirit of forgiveness: that God will break the bonds of resentment and vengeance that hold our hearts and free us to forgive as God has forgiven us.
LORD HEAR US
We pray for a Spirit of reverence: that all hearts may recognize God as creator and work to protect and preserve creation, human dignity, and cooperation within the human family.
LORD HEAR US
We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.
LORD HEAR US
We pray for Andrzej Romanek who died this week. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. AMEN
Leader: Let us pray our PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful,
and enkindle in us the fire of your love.
Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
enlighten our minds to perceive the mysteries of the universe.
Spirit of right judgment and courage,
guide us and make us firm in our baptismal decision
to follow Jesus’ way of love.
Spirit of knowledge and reverence,
help us to see the lasting value of justice and mercy
in our everyday dealings with one another.
Holy Spirit of God, inspire our faith, hope and love into new action each day.
Fill our lives with wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.
We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.
My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.
Leader: Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:
All say: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Send down, O God, upon your people
the flame of your Holy Spirit,
and fill with the abundance of your sevenfold gift
the Church you brought forth
from your Son’s pierced side.
May your life-giving Spirit
lend fire to our words
and strength to our witness.
Send us forth to the nations of the world
to proclaim with boldness your wondrous work
of raising Christ to your right hand.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:
On this day God the Father,
poured out the Holy Spirit upon the disciples
to enlighten their minds and hearts:
may God fill us with the joy of heaven’s blessing
and the gifts of the Holy Spirit for ever.
May the fire that hovered over the disciples
as tongues of flame
purge our hearts of every evil
and make them radiant with the light of the Spirit.
May God who has gathered people of many tongues
to profess a single faith
keep us true to that faith
and lead us to the glorious vision of heaven.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.
All: Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia.