These readings are some of my favorites from the entire Canon. I truly love the First Reading because as I Lector at Mass I have read it numerous times. The Gospel is truly amazing because we see the foreshadowing of Pentecost and the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Here are some reflections on the Pentecost Readings.
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11
I love this reading for so many reasons, but the one reason I truly love this reading is because it’s about Pentecost – the Birth of the Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit descends upon the Apostles and sends them to the ends of the world. We see the universality of the Catholic Church in the many nations from the very beginning. I love being Catholic for this reason alone. You can go to any Catholic Church around the world and hear the same readings you would receive at your local parish. We are truly the UNIVERSAL Church. If you have ever attended a World Youth Day (I have been 2 times), there you also see the many nations all speaking different languages, but all united under one language – the language of the Holy Spirit. Everyone there is there for Jesus Christ. It’s a sight to see!
My friend and fellow blogger, Kevin Clarke, says it best today, “Praised be the Love of the Father and the Son! Happy Pentecost to all! May the Holy Spirit pour out a New Evangelization upon the Church!”
In a time when the Church needs it the most in recent years, it’s my prayer that the Holy Spirit will light the fire of the Catholic Church so the New Evangelization spreads as the teachings of Christ spread in the Early Church. Blessed John Paul II…Pray for Us!
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
I enjoy the Psalms that help us to remember the importance of God’s creation. We must be active stewards of that creation and care for it on a daily basis. For most of us, that means that we should recycle as much as we can and to keep our yards and parks clean of debris. Praising God for his creation is an important way we as Christians can honor God and give praise for the beautiful world we live in every day.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 11-12 (First Option)
This letter to the Corinthians is a good reminder for me and should be for all of us that we should never allow our differences among ethnic groups and nations get in the way of how we speak and feel for Jesus Christ and the Mystical Body. It also should be a reminder that when people we don’t know very well or not at all need a place to sit in Mass, we should “move in” and let them sit with us for we are all one body. I think we get to comfortable in the pew and don’t want anyone to sit with us that we don’t know or we don’t want to give up our special seat. It does not have our names on it! Allow others to sit with you and don’t be rude when the ushers ask to make room for those individuals. Remember: We are the Mystical Body of Christ.
Second Reading: Galatians 5:16-25 (Second Option)
This reading reminds me of how important it is for us to receive the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist often. To receive God’s grace is an essential factor to live our lives as Christians. As a professor of mine at Franciscan said, “Grace is everything!” The physical sign’s of Christ’s presence in the world (Greek – mysterion; Latin – sacramentum) were giving to the Church by Christ himself to help us on our way in this life. It’s Catholic Church that Christ founded himself upon St. Peter as the Rock who defined and doctrinally declared the importance of these great and precious gifts from Jesus himself over the centuries. I thank Jesus every time I walk out of the confessional for this great sacrament and that through this sacrament, I can receive him in the Holy Eucharist – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-23 (First Option)
This scripture has become a favorite of mine this year because it’s the first time I have explained it in great detail to all of my students. First to my sophomores and juniors in the Christology course and recently to my freshman in the Scriptures course. The two important points in this reading that I truly love is first, when Our Lord breathes on the Apostles. His divine breath was only the beginning for these men. On Pentecost they would receive the full brunt of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Our Lord came upon them and from there they would declare to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the Spirit of Catholicism, Karl Adam says, “Twelve simple, uneducated fishermen revolutionized the world, and that with no other instrument than their new faith and their readiness to die for that faith.”
The second point is the power to forgive sins. We as Catholics often get mocked or questioned about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Most Protestants say that it’s not in the Bible or try to debunk this scripture verse in some way or another. Here and in other verses we see Jesus giving the Apostles his authority; the same authority that my local priest has from his Bishop to forgive my sins. Maybe for me it’s because I love the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that Grace that comes from receiving it often. Just like in John 6, Jesus’ words are not symbolic, but literal. I am literally telling you that you have the power and authority to forgive sins IN MY NAME.
Gospel Reading: John 15:26-27, 16:12-15 (Second Option)
We often talk about the God the Father and God the Son, but we must remember that God is a Trinity. God the Holy Spirit is fundamental to understanding the mystery of the Trinity. You won’t find the term Trinity in the Scriptures, since the Early Church Father, Tertullian, coined the term. However, we read through the Old and New Testaments that God is Three Persons in One. A simple explanation of the Trinity comes from the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. He said the Trinity could be understood with Water. Water is one substance, but has three forms to it – Ice, Liquid, and Steam. All three are the same substance, but different forms. So as it is with the Trinity – All Three are God (same substance) but each is his own person. The Holy Spirit continues to be important because he continues to direct and guide (guarantees) the Magisterium as he done for the many centuries throughout Church History.