Pentecost Sunday, Year A
Sunday Church at Home
during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic
The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:
Leader: ln 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 forever
Leader: The feast of Pentecost brings the season of Easter to a glorious close. Though we hear in the Acts of the Apostles today that the Spirit was bestowed fifty days after the resurrection, we know that we’ve already spent the entire Easter season “in the Spirit”. The reason for this is made clear by the gospel reading. In John’s version of events, Jesus breathed out his Spirit on the disciples on the very day of his resurrection, “the first day of the week”. Each writer has a theological perspective that accounts for his particular chronology.
We have not spent the past seven weeks waiting for the Spirit. The feast of Pentecost allows us to cry a final full-hearted “Alleluia!” for all the Spirit has accomplished in us and will continue to do. We pray with fresh fervour the same response to the psalm that followed the story of creation at the Easter Vigil fifty days ago: “Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth”.
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 men 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.
Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm beginning and ending with the response:
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
Introduction to the reading: Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians responds to a letter they wrote to him. They had asked him how to deal with the diversity of gifts in the community, and the rivalries and jealousies that inevitably arose. In today’s passage, he uses a comparison that we will recognize immediately.
A reading from the first letter of St 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.
The Pentecost Sequence (Veni Sancte Spiritus–“Come Holy Spirit”) is a hymn to the Holy Spirit that is either sung or said before the Alleluia and the Gospel. The Sequence invites the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts. It includes many descriptions of the Holy Spirit. These descriptions include “Come, giver of God’s gifts,” “heal the injured soul,” as well as many others. The sequence is a beautiful part of Pentecost Mass.
Reader: 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, alleluia. Come, O 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.
Reflection on the Readings
The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.
Whenever an element of our faith seems difficult to understand, we often take the easy route out and say: “why bother; it’s a mystery after all!” And by mystery we mean that it cannot be known, understood and explained. The Holy Spirit – the third person of the Holy Trinity – is indeed a mystery. It’s quite easy to imagine concepts like “Father” and “Son”. However, “Holy Spirit” needs a bit more work.
In the Catholic understanding of the term “mystery”, we do not mean something that is incomprehensible, unknowable, and inexplicable. On the contrary, a mystery is something revealed. To be precise, it is Someone revealed – God. God reveals Himself to us precisely because on our own, with our limited minds and intellect, we would not be able to know Him. For instance, the fact that God is Trinity is not self-evident; God had to reveal that to us. And so, when God reveals something, He makes it possible for us to know it, to grasp it, and even to explain it.
In the Creed, we profess belief in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and who – like them – is to be adored and glorified.
Of all the things that could be said about the Holy Spirit, I would like to focus today only on one aspect: the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Church’s mission.
In today’s readings, we are given two accounts of the descent of the Holy Spirit. In the First Reading (from the Acts of the Apostles) we have the well-known account of the coming of the Holy Spirit. In this account, the apostles are all gathered in one room, the Cenacle or Upper Room. St Luke, in this account, tells of a sound of a mighty wind which filled the house and tongues – as of fire – descending and resting on those inside. Wind and Fire – the symbols of the Holy Spirit. And immediately, the disciples go out and proclaim the mighty works of God. The Holy Spirit seems to be an important agent of the disciples’ missionary work and proclamation. It is He who gives them the power, courage and zeal to go out on mission.
And so it is with us. At our Baptism and Confirmation, we too received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised would come and reveal to his disciples all that He taught and did. As with those at that first Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension, so too with us; the Holy Spirit enables us to go out on mission, to proclaim the mighty works of God.
In the second account of the coming of the Holy Spirit – which we hear of in the Gospel – Jesus says to his disciples: “As the Father sends me, even so I send you” … mission! And to enable them to go as He sends them, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Again here, the Holy Spirit seems an important agent for the missionary activity of the disciples.
So, there is a relationship between the Holy Spirit and the evangelising mission of the Church. The Holy Spirit enables this mission. He strengthens the disciples, making them missionary disciples.
On this feast of Pentecost, as we celebrate the missionary activity of the Church, enabled and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, we also need to reflect on the particular role that you and I play in this mission, our contribution to the overall mission of the Church.
And so we pray, Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your love; and renew the face of the Earth.
- In today’s Readings, the disciples experience the Holy Spirit as “mighty wind,” “tongues as of fire,” ad Jesus’ breath. How can I describe my experience of the Holy Spirit?
- The Holy Spirit enables us to go out on mission. What is my contribution to the Church’s overall mission of proclaiming the Good News? What do I feel inspired/called to do in this mission?
- What charisms/gifts do I see in myself, which can be useful for mission?
- Affirm someone else by telling him/her what charism/gifts you see in them, that can be useful for their participation in the Church’s mission?
Prayer of the Faithful
Leader: We are God’s people because the Spirit lives among us. So, with confidence, we bring our prayers to the Father.
Reader: We pray for all who have died this week, especially those with the Covid-19 virus. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord.
All: And let perpetual light shine on them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
Leader: Let us pray our prayer to the Holy Spirit:
All: O HOLY SPIRIT,
Divine 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 forever.
Remind us, each time we wash our hands,
that in our baptism you call us to let go of our fears and live in joy, peace, and hope.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
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.
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 at least spiritually.
I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you.
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: O God,
you bestow on your Church gifts from heaven. Preserve the grace you have given us,
that the breath of Pentecost may quicken our hearts and that this meal, made holy by your Spirit,
may advance the great work of redemption. Grant this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:
Leader: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.
Instrumental music may be played or a hymn may be sung.