Sunday, 28th  May 2023
Pentecost

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Antiphons and Readings on page 595 of the Daily Missal and page 286 of the Sunday Missal

Entrance Antiphon
The Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world and that which contains all things understands what is said, alleluia.

First Reading: Acts 2:1-11

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 men and women from every nation under heaven. 
And at this sound the multitude came together,
and they were bewildered,
because each one heard them speaking in their 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 their 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 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: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7.12-13

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians.

Brothers and sisters:
No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 
and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 
and there are varieties of working,
but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 

For just as the body is one and has many members,
and all the members of the body,
though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—
Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—
and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

The Word of the Lord

Sequence

Come, Holy Spirit, 

and from heaven direct on man the rays of your light.

Come, Father of the poor; 

come, giver of God’s gifts;  

come, light of men’s hearts.

Kindly Paraclete, in your gracious visits to man’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 man 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.  Amen.  Alleluia.

Please stand for the Gospel

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

Gospel: John 20:19-23

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

On the evening of that day,
the first day of the week,
the doors being shut where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood among them and said to them,
“Peace be with you.” 
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 
Jesus said to them again,
“Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven;
if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Homile

The cathedral in Chartres, France is famous for its stained glass windows, dating from the middle ages. 

  • One window shows the figure of Jesus surrounded by seven doves. 
  • The seven doves symbolize these seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. 
  • The Messiah will be filled up with all of the powers and energies of God’s Spirit. 

Here is a little story to illustrate the gift of knowledge: 

  • A man who went to the priest and said, “Father, my dog has died, and I want you to say a Mass for her.” 
  • The priest was indignant, “What do you mean, say a Mass for your dog?” 
  • “She was my pet dog,” said the man. “I loved that dog and I’d like you to offer a Mass for her.” 
  • “We don’t offer Masses for dogs here,” the priest said.  “You might try the denomination down the street.  Ask them if they have a service for you.” 
  • As the man was leaving, he said to the priest, “I really loved that dog.  I was planning to give a five-thousand-rand stipend for the Mass.” 
  • And the priest said, “Wait a minute!  Why didn’t tell me that your dog was Catholic?!”

I was part of a prayer group recently and the topic of the Holy Spirit came up. 

  • These were people of an older generation who knew the church before the changes of the Second Vatican Council.  
  • Several gave comments like this:
    • “We didn’t learn about the Holy Spirit in our catechism classes.” 
    • “I pray to Jesus, not much to the Holy Spirit.”


So how does the Holy Spirit enter our lives?

  • We want to take a look at the readings today because they tell us of three ways the significance of the Spirit enters our lives. 
  • In the gospel,
    • the risen Christ comes to dispel the fears of his disciples 
    • and then Christ commissions them to go forth to continue the same mission he had from his Father. 
  • He breathes on them the gift of the Spirit to give them the skills needed for the tasks of reconciliation and forgiveness.


In the first reading from the Acts of Apostles, we hear how the ancient curse of separation and division has been reversed. 

  • A new age has begun as the Lord gathers people together and replaces confusion with understanding.


In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul also describes this unity in different words. 

  • It is the same Spirit that richly gifts the baptized. 
  • Each of us has different manifestations of the Spirit, not for our personal gain, but for the common good. 
  • Because of the Spirit,
    • we can claim that we all are gifted, 
    • we all have something to give 
    • and our gifts and talents are not just for ourselves, 
    • but are to be used for the good of others, 
    • for the sake of the human community.


After the covid pandemic, some people have stepped back from the church.

  • Some have joined other denominations, others stopped coming or, come less frequently. 
  • It’s not just that they can watch Mass on television;
    • they are questioning why God would let so much illness and suffering into the world.


That is why today is an important feast. 

  • We need the Spirit
    • because only the Spirit can gather and hold us together, 
  • Only the Spirit can help us to do what Jesus asks us today:
    • to go into the world making disciples of all. 
  • Only the Spirit of God and no mere human effort can bring about the spiritual renewal we need.  
  • Only the Spirit can stir up a flame among us to make us passionate about God
    • and the desire to spread the word of God’s reign in the world.


But the temptation is to do what the first disciples did; lock ourselves behind closed doors. 

  • That might make us feel safe and cozy, but that’s not what those disciples did at the first Pentecost.  
  • Under the tongues of fire
    • they left their safe place, 
    • went out and bore witness of “the mighty acts of God” 
  • They went out to a diverse people:
    • People from many parts of the world, 
    • People who spoke many different languages
  • This diverse group of people came together
    • because of the rumblings of the Spirit in that first community of believers.


From the witness of today’s Scriptures, the Spirit is not some “side-line God.” 

  • The Spirit is not an unknown reality overlooking things here on Earth from on high. 
  • Rather, those first Christians gave witness that the Spirit of God is a life-giving breath, inner strength and the source of all life. 
  • The Spirit is working among us
    • when members of our church try to uncover the truth behind past coverups of clerical sexual abuse
  • The Spirit is working among us when members of our church seek to find meaning in suffering.
  • The Spirit is working among our peacemakers, justice seekers, community organizers, parish staff, volunteers, etc.


Jesus did not leave us on our own to straighten things out in our injured world.

  • He did not keep the Spirit clutched to his chest like some personal treasure. 
  • The Scriptures today show him gifting his apostles with the Spirit and then sending them forth, just as he was sent, to be evangelists of forgiveness. 
  • We are not on our own, but are continually offered healing for our wounded hearts. 
  • One important way we receive this is by doing what he asks in the gospel; forgiving those who have hurt us. 
  • When we do that we discover forgiveness is not only good for others;
    • it restores and unbinds us as well.


Have you seen the work of the Spirit around you? 

  • The Spirit is at work whenever people reach out beyond their own interests to help others, without seeking a return in kind. 
  • The Spirit is at work when people put self concerns aside, and  discover how their lives grow more meaningful and fulfilling. 
  • The Spirit is at work in our Caritas groups – God’s Garage, Helping Hands, Society of St Vincent de Paul, the Parish Poverty Relief Project, the Catholic Women’s League. 
  • The Spirit is at work in the family who pack food parcels for the street people and give them out every Sunday.
  • These are the signs that the Spirit is at work.


The Spirit is also active when we experience friendship and love from God. 

  • It is the Spirit that stirs us to respond to the hunger for God
    • to seek God through prayer, 
    • to seek God through reading the Scriptures 
    • to seek God during quiet moments of the day. 
  • The Spirit also gives strength and comfort in times of
    • loss, rejection and persecution, 
    • as well as courage and generosity to fight injustice, 
    • even at personal sacrifice.


The first Pentecost manifests the Spirit’s work of unity and peace.  

  • On that day the confusion among nations and languages caused at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) was ended. 
  • The people who were gathered could understand one another as they heard of the “mighty acts of God.”
  • That first Pentecost gave evidence that the Spirit draws people together, no matter their national origin, culture, or skin colour. 
  • The Spirit heals the hurts that have set people part. 
  • For that we pray, “Come Holy Spirit.”

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.  As the Father
has sent me, so I send you….”  He breathed on
them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
 

Reflection:

We need the Spirit because only the Spirit can gather and hold us together, and also help us to do what Jesus asks us today: to go into the world making disciples of all. Only the Spirit of God and no mere human effort can bring about the spiritual renewal we need.  Only the Spirit can stir up a flame among us to make us passionate about God and the desire to spread the word of God’s reign in the world.


So we ask ourselves:

  • How am I spreading the word of God’s reign by my words?
  • How do I spread God’s reign by my actions?
  • Where do I need to turn to the Spirit for help?

Communion antiphon 

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke of the marvels of God, alleluia.

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