May 19, 2013 Pentecost Sunday
This Sunday the Easter Season draws to a close with the
celebration of Pentecost. We celebrate the pouring out of the Holy
Spirit on the Church and the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit
within the Church. This became the birthday of the Church. The readings
call us to reflect on the place of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in
each of our lives. When the disciples went public with the "Good News"
for the first time after the Lord left them, they found that Jesus had
kept His word through the action of the Holy Spirit, and indeed had not
left them orphaned. Being Church is only possible because of the action
and power of the Holy Spirit. It is as true today as it was true back
in Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago..
Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11
1 When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place
together. 2 And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong
driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. 3 Then
there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to
rest on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy
Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled
them to proclaim.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in
Jerusalem. 6 At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they
were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
7 They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these
people who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how does each of us hear them
in his own native language? 9 We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as
well as travelers from Rome, 11 both Jews and converts to Judaism,
Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the
mighty acts of God."
NOTES on First Reading:
The reading is taken from the introduction to Luke's Pentecostal
narrative. It is likely that the narrative telescopes events that took
place over a longer period of time and on a less dramatic scale. Luke's
purpose in the narrative is to present a transition from the story of
Jesus' ministry to the story of the ministry of the Church while
maintaining a sense of continuity and showing both to be the action of
* 2:1 The "day of Pentecost had fully come" in Greek is an expression
than implies fulfillment. In English, use of the singular, "day"
probably is a poor way of conveying the idea that involves the end of
an extended time of waiting, perhaps, for many days. It refers not only
to the end of the festival period but more pointedly to the awaited
"day" of the prophet's forecast (vv 17-21) and the master's promise
(1:5-8; Luke 24:49).
* 2:2-3 Wind and spirit are associated in John 3:8. The sound of a
great rush of wind is seen as a herald of a new action of God in the
history of salvation. These verses portray a theophany of the Spirit
with a strong resemblance to the theophany marking the gathering of
Israel in the Septuagint (Greek) version of Isaiah 66:15-20. See also
Exodus 19:16 for related theophany traditions.
* 2:3 In Exodus 19:18 fire symbolizes the presence of God and initiates
the covenant on Sinai. Here the Holy Spirit acts upon the apostles,
preparing them to proclaim the new covenant with the unique gift of the
Spirit (Acts 2:38).
* 2:4 The Holy Spirit in the pre-Lucan story was the charismatic power
of early Christians (1 Cor 12-14), the source of miracles and ecstasies
and insights and powerful speech and prayer. Luke does not dwell overly
much on this feature of the Spirit. Instead he broadens it into a
comprehensive expression of the dynamism of the mission (4:8,31; 6:10;
8:29,39; 10:19-20; 11:12; 13:2-4; 20:22-23; 21:4,11). The Spirit
becomes the primary force in the expansion of the Church (10:19; 11:12;
15:28). Ecstatic prayer in praise of God is interpreted in Acts 2:6,11
as speaking in foreign languages, symbolizing the worldwide mission of
the church. Later in Christian tradition there will be a distinction
made between ecstatic prayer in praise of God (jubilation) and
preaching or teaching in one language and being understood in another
(tongues). In the early church such a distinction was not made.
* 2:5 Luke describes a gathering of Israel just as at Mt. Sinai where
they received the law through Moses. Now the gathered Israel will
receive the new law from Jesus through the action of the Holy Spirit in
the Apostles. Pentecost reverses the Tower of Babel event.
* 2:6 The word used for language, "dialektos," means the language of a
people or a region (1:19; 21:40: 22:2; 26:14).
* 2:9-11 These verses contain a stylized list of places that probably
had been in use for considerable time before Luke incorporated it into
the narrative. In general the locations form a broad sweep from east to
Second Reading: 1
Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
3b No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 5
there are different forms of service but the same Lord; 6 there are
different workings but the same God who produces all of them in
everyone. 7 To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given
for some benefit.
12 As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the
body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. 13 For in one Spirit
we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or
free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 12:3b The reading begins with the last part of verse 3. Faith, the
ability to recognize Jesus as Lord, is itself a gift of the Spirit.
* 12:4-6 There are some features common to all charisms (gifts),
despite their diversity: all are gifts (charismata), grace from outside
ourselves; all are forms of service (diakoniai), an expression of their
purpose and effect; and all are workings (energemata), in which God is
at work. In an early example of "appropriation" Paul associates each of
these aspects with what later theology will call one of the persons of
*12:7 As all of the gifts have a common origin they also have a common
goal and purpose.
*12:12-30 The idea of society as a body was common and widespread in
the ancient world but it is not a likely source for the concept as Paul
uses it for the Church. He tended to see society as characterized by
division and predicated "body" of the Christian community precisely to
emphasize its organic unity. The image of a body also serves to explain
Christ's relationship with believers (1 Cor 12:12). 1 Cor 12:13 applies
this model to the church. In baptism all of us, despite our diversity
are integrated into one organism, Christ Himself. Verses 14-26 discuss
the need for diversity of function among the parts of a body without
causing a threat to its unity.
*12:12 The many members share one existence in Christ who is their life.
* 12:13 The use of the aorist tense (form of a verb in Greek, that
expresses action without indicating its completion or continuation) in
the verb indicates that this is not a specific reference to the
Eucharist. Rather, Paul is referring to the Spirit being constantly
present within the Church itself. Indeed, it is the Spirit who makes it
possible for the community of believers to be Church rather than just a
Reading: Romans 8: 8-17
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are
not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the
Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ
does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body
is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in
you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your
mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you. 12
Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live
according to the flesh. 13 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.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but
you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, "Abba,
Father!" 16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are
children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint
heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be
glorified with him.
NOTES on Alternate Second Reading:
* 8:8 Paul chooses a neutral way of expressing the goal of human
life-to please God. This goal is aimed at by both Jew and Christian and
yet it can not be accomplished by one who is dominated by his own wants
or "in the flesh." Only one who live "in the spirit" or who lives
according to the Spirit can please God.
* 8:9 The words, "if only " (in the NAB), are sometimes translated as
"since" (in NRSV) in this verse. In fact the NAB translation is
probably better. Paul probably meant something like "if, in reality. "
It is not the behavior that results in being "in the spirit" but rather
it is being "in the spirit" that results in the behavior that is
pleasing to God. We as followers of Christ have the Holy Spirit within
us as a result of our death and rebirth in Christ (Baptism). The Holy
Spirit is now the new principle of life within us. Paul uses the terms,
"Spirit of God", "Spirit of Christ," and "Christ" interchangeably as he
struggles to express the multifaceted reality of the
Christianï¿½s experience of participation in the
Divine life. This is much more than a simple identification with the
cause of Christ. Paul sees it as a "spiritualization" of the believer
who is empowered to "live for God" by the "Spirit of God" Himself Who
takes up residence within the believer.
* 8:10 Paul plays on the meanings of "pneuma." It clearly means the
Spirit of God but the word is also used for a component of our humanity
that can be contrasted with "flesh." Without the Spirit as the source
of Christian life the human "bodyï¿½ is like a
corpse because of the influence of sin. However, in union with Christ
the human "spirit" lives because the Spirit resuscitates the dead human
being through the gift of uprightness.
* 8:11 Here as in 8:9 the "pneuma" is the Spirit of the Father to Whom
the efficiency of the resurrection is attributed. So the power
vivifying the Christian is traced to its ultimate source, for the
Spirit is the manifestation of the Fatherï¿½s
presence and power in the world since the resurrection of Jesus and
through it. The future tense refers to the eschatological resurrection
of Christians in which Paul sees the role of the Spirit as central. At
His resurrection Christ became through the
Fatherï¿½s glory (6:4) the principle of the raising
of Christians (see: 1Thes 4:14; Phil 3:10,21;1Cor 6:14; 2Cor 4:14
* 8:12-13 These verses form a conclusion to the previous discussion and
are a transition to the next section. Paul tells us that the Baptized
Christian could still be occupied by the "deed, acts, pursuits" of one
dominated by "saryx," flesh. However, use of the Spirit received in
order to abandon those things is the debt owed to Christ.
* 8:14-17 Although mortification just mentioned in the previous verse
is a necessary part of the Christian life it does not capture its
essence. The essential point of Christian life is a new relationship
with God for which Paul uses the image of "sonship." The new status of
the Christian is modeled on the relationship of the resurrected Jesus
with the Father. Both the new life and the new relationship to God (
that of adopted children and heirs through Christ) belong to Christians
because of the Spiritï¿½s presence within them. As a
result they will share both Christï¿½s sufferings
* 8:15 " Abba" is an Aramaic term that was used by Jesus as a special
way of addressing God with filial intimacy. The word, abba, seems not
to have been used in earlier or contemporaneous Jewish sources to
address God without some qualifier. This Aramaic word also occurs in
Mark 14:36; and Gal 4:6. Although adoption was not widely practiced in
Israel and here Paul borrows a word ("huiothesia" in Greek) from the
Hellenistic legal usage of the time, it was used of Israel (9:4) in the
sense of being chosen by God (Ex 4:22; Isa 1:2; Jer 3:19; Hos 11:1).
John 20:: 19-23
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were
locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and
stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he
had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples
rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace
be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." 22 And when he
had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy
Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you
retain are retained."
NOTES on Gospel:
* 20:19-29 The appearances to the disciples, without or with Thomas
(John 11:16; 14:5), have rough parallels in the other gospels only for
John 20:19-23; see Luke 24:36-39; Mark 16:14-18. Implicitly from John
20:24 "the disciples" means ten of the Twelve, presumably in Jerusalem.
"Peace be with you" echoes John 14:27. The theme of rejoicing in John
20:20 echoes John 16:22.
* 20:20 In contrast to John, Luke 24:39-40 mentions "hands and feet,"
based on Psalm 22:17.
* 20:21 Though John does not use the noun in reference to them, this is
where the Eleven really become Apostles ("those sent"); see John 17:18.
Matthew 28:19, Luke 24:47, and Mark 16:15 also make a solemn mission or
"sending" the subject of the post-resurrection appearances to the
* 20:22 This event is John's version of Pentecost. This action echoes
Genesis 2:7, where God breathed on the first man and gave him life.
Just as Adam's life came from God, so now the disciples' new spiritual
life comes from Jesus. They are new creations in this Spirit of Jesus.
See also the revivification of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. The
apostles did truly receive the Holy Spirit at this time although the
gifts of the Holy Spirit were not manifested until Pentecost.
* 20:23 Jesus here gives his apostles the task of continuing His
ministry of reconciliation. They are charged with the task of forgiving
sins as He had done during His ministry. This was defined by the
Council of Trent as a scriptural basis for the sacrament of Penance.
See also Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18.
Reading: John 14: 15-16, 23b-26
15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask
the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you
always, 23 "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love
him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24 Whoever
does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not
mine but that of the Father who sent me. 25 "I have told you this while
I am with you. 26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will
send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all
that (I) told you.
NOTES on Alternate Gospel Reading:
* 14:15-26 Belief must affect our lives. Simply believing and holding
it in so that it does not affect our lives is not enough. Faith must
lead to obedience for it to be real and life changing. This is restated
in language more typical of John in verse 23. These next few verses
(15-26) deal with the way in which Jesus remains with His followers and
the way in which the Holy Spirit works in their lives. They can be
divided into three sections according to topic: a. the love of or lack
of love of Jesus (14:15, 21a, 23a, 24a) b. reward for such love
(14:16-17a, 21b,25-26) c. opposition between the disciples and the
world (14:17bc, 18-20, 22).
* 14:23 For John this is the meaning of His coming for there will be no
longer be a separation of believers from God/Jesus. There is no need to
wait or look for heavenly habitations to experience salvation in the
presence of God. God is here now for those who believe.
* 14:24 This verse restates verse 23 in negative terms.
* 14:25-31 Having established the future life of the community, Jesus
tells them that He is leaving. But even His departure will result in
further blessing of His followers because He will send the Holy Spirit,
* 14:26 Remind for the disciples meant to enable them to understand the
teachings and actions of Jesus. The Advocate will teach them but His
teaching will be a deeper understanding of the revelation present in
Jesus. It will not be independent of the revelation of Christ.
- St. Raymond Parish, Dublin, CA