Pentecost Sunday Church at Home, 23 May 2021

Pentecost

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Spirit, New Law of the Christian. 

 

The 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 we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the whole Church. We are empowered to receive the truth and to bear witness to it.

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Acts 2:1-11

 

Introduction to the reading: The first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. Pentecost was a Jewish feast that celebrated the beginning of the harvest. It took place 50 days after the feast of the Passover. Jewish pilgrims came to Jerusalem from all over the ancient world for the celebration. 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 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: Galatians 5:16-25

Introduction to the reading: The second reading is taken from the letter of St Paul to the Galatians. In concluding his letters, St Paul always had a section instructing his converts about the correct way to live as Christians. Today’s passage comes near the end of his letter to the Galatians who lived in what is today central Turkey. 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 Galatians.

Brothers and sisters:
Walk by the Spirit,
and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit,
and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh;
for these are opposed to each other,
to prevent you from doing what you would.
But if you are led by the Spirit
you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are plain:
immorality, impurity, licentiousness,
idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife,
jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension,
party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things
shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control;
against such there is no law.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus
have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

If we live by the Spirit,
let us also walk by the Spirit. 
Let us have no self-conceit,
no provoking of one another,
no envy of one another.

The word of the Lord.

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

 

Gospel: John 15:26-27, 16:12-15

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John

At that time:
Jesus said to his disciples,
“When the Counsellor comes,
whom I shall send to you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth,
who proceeds from the Father,
he will bear witness to me;
and you also are witnesses,
because you have been with me from the beginning. 

I have yet many things to say to you,
but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes,
he will guide you into all the truth;
for he will not speak on his own authority,
but whatever he hears he will speak,
and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me,
for he will take what is mine
and declare it to you.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily 

A little girl asked her grandfather, “Did you and Grandma ever get into any fights?”  

The grandfather replied: “We don’t talk about it very often, but there was a time when we were not getting along very well. We seemed to be picking on each other a lot and finding all kinds of things to argue about and really getting on one another’s nerves. Well, one day I came in from the garden and I heard a voice upstairs. I went to the stairs and heard your grandmother speaking to God. She was saying to God the things which she could not bring herself to tell me.”
“Well, what did you do?” asked the grand-daughter.
“I quietly walked up the stairs,” he replied, “and knelt down beside her and told God my side of the story. And from that day to this, we have never had a problem which we couldn’t resolve by talking it over with each other and with God.”

I see the Holy Spirit being active in that couples’ marriage. There can be no doubt. Conflict will always occur in most relationships. The fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control – will always remain critical for happy relationships with others.

Today we celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ new  community – and to us. 

This is not the first mention of the Spirit in the Scriptures. The Hebrew word for spirit (“ruah”) occurs over 300 times in the Old Testament, from the very first chapter of Genesis. “Ruah” means “breath.” The beginning of Genesis tells us, God’s Spirit was “sweeping over the waters of chaos and darkness. God forms the first human from the soil and breathes life into it and the human begins to breathe. 

The Acts of the Apostles describes the gift of the Spirit with dramatic images of wind and tongues of fire, manifestations of power and new life. The Holy Spirit transforms the disciples huddled in fear to become a unified and courageous community. This community goes out and preaches forgiveness and reconciliation between God and among all peoples. 

Pentecost is not a once-for-all feast, but an ongoing celebration of the gift of God’s Spirit, who is always with us, inseparable from believers.

We also see the Spirit as a quiet and gentle breath. The Risen Jesus breathes over his followers and creates new life in them. Jesus offers them peace, not just for themselves, but for a very concrete purpose, to make peace among those who have sinned and are alienated from God. The Spirit will always be with disciples – as present as is their own breath. 

The Spirit enables us to do what Jesus promised: “ Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do.” (Jn 14:12).

The Scriptures give us insights into the activities of the Spirit. It is as gentle as breath, because some situations require us to pause and take a breath – as a reminder of the ever-present breath of the Spirit – then to speak and act. 

Other situations, like peace-making, forgiving, working tirelessly for the poor and the work of justice, requires the Spirit to be with us like a “driving wind.” The Spirit gifts us with language – just what we Christians need for the long haul in a sometimes-resistant church and world.

Fire is another sign of the Spirit’s presence. Fire symbolises the need to be energetic, passionate and consumed by our mission to the world. The Spirit’s fire helps us accomplish tasks in God’s name – like all the food parcels and clothing and blankets that have gone out to those in desperate need.  

The Spirit’s fire motivates the volunteers of our parish who come out during the pandemic to help others. The Spirit’s fire helps us do what Jesus did by his compassion for the least and the outcasts. We can see the signs of the Spirit’s presence in animated, wind-driven Christians who, with the Spirit’s light, see what needs to be done and are on fire to do it.

This has been a stressful time since the pandemic began over a year ago.  Our spirits need the refreshing touch of the Spirit of God, not just to survive, but to thrive in faith. As individuals and a believing community, we long for a renewed sense of God’s tender and comforting love for us. We also need to be assured of God’s unfailing care. That is the work of the Spirit, who urges us to reach out in confidence for the gifts we need to guide us through these extra-difficult days. 

We can ask the question of ourselves: When we return to a regular routine, will our faith have faded away during this year’s desert journey? Or, will our spirits have grown under the challenges we have encountered; grown because we have been open to receive the ever-new influx of the Spirit.

As we celebrate this Pentecost we can follow Paul and ask: “What manifestations of the Spirit have I received over these months?” Since the Spirit has not only given gifts for our individual needs, we can also ask, “How can I use the gifts of the Spirit for the benefit of others in my parish and the broader world beyond?

Acts 2:1 describes how, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” Note that they were all together – the whole community. That means the gift of Spirit wasn’t limited to a few. The gift of the Spirit was given to the all those in the community. It is the whole community who is sent out to the world to proclaim the gospel. That is how the Spirit worked then and how it works today.

Let us end with a prayer from Saint John Henry Newman:

“Come Holy Spirit
Make our ears to hear
Make our eyes to see
Make our mouths to speak
Make our hearts to seek
Make our hands to reach out
And touch the world with your love.  AMEN.” 

From today’s Acts of the Apostles reading:

“And suddenly a sound came from heaven
like the rush of a mighty wind,
and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”

Reflection:

Some situations, like peace-making, forgiving, working tirelessly for the poor and the work of justice, require what Acts tells us about the Spirit: it is with us like a “driving wind,” and gifts us with language – just what we Christians need for the long haul in a sometimes-resistant church and world.

So we ask ourselves:

  • What situation in your life requires the “driving wind,” the energy of the Spirit to accomplish?
  • Have you prayed for that gift anew?

Prayer of the Faithful 

 

Leader: Moved by the Holy Spirit, let us make our prayers and petitions known.

 

Reader:

We pray for Pope Francis and the bishops: (pause) that they may continue to preach and to lead us in the fullness of truth.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for the whole Church: (pause) that God will pour out the Spirit in a new and abundant way to renew all believers and strengthen us to further the mission of Jesus. 

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for healing of the human family: (pause) that God will heal the divisions between women and men, poor and rich, and every race so that we may work together for the good of every person and the fulfillment of God’s plan.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all our confirmation candidates who will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation: (pause) that they may continue to be led by the Holy Spirit in their daily lives.

LORD HEAR US.

We pray for inspiration and hope: (pause) that the Spirit will guide all who are working to end the coronavirus pandemic, and develop effective plans for administering the vaccine.

LORD HEAR US 

 

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for Emily Weideman, Leshuk Koots and Stanislaus Sangweni who died during the week.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

 

And let perpetual light shine on them.
May they rest in peace.  Amen

 

Leader: Let us pray our prayer to the HOLY SPIRIT:

 

O Holy Spirit of light and of love, 

to you I consecrate my understanding, 

my heart and my will, and my whole being, 

in time and in eternity.  

May my understanding always be submissive to your heavenly inspirations 

and to the teachings of the holy Church 

of which you are the infallible Guide.  

May my heart be ever on fire 

with the love of my God and my neighbour.   

May my will be always in harmony with the will of God 

and may my whole life be a faithful copy 

of the life and virtues of our Lord and Saviour, 

Jesus Christ – to whom, 

with the Father and with you, 

be honour and glory for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

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. 

 

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.

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

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.

 

Leader: 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.

 

All: Amen.

 

Blessing for the Ascension of the Lord

 

Leader: May God, the Father of lights, who was pleased to enlighten the disciples’ minds by the outpouring of the Spirit, grant us gladness by his blessing and make us always abound with the gifts of the same Spirit.

All: Amen.

 

Leader: May God the wonderous flame that appeared above the disciples, powerfully cleanse our hearts from every evil and pervade them with its purifying light.

All: Amen.

 

Leader: May God, who has been pleased to unite many tongues in the profession of one faith, give us perseverance in that same faith and, by believing, may we journey from hope to clear vision.

All: Amen.

 

Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All: Amen.