‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me,’ says the Lord;’ and let the one who believes in me drink. For out of your heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ John 7:38
Almighty God, at the feast of Pentecost you sent your Holy Spirit to the disciples, filling them with joy and boldness to preach the gospel: empower us with that same Spirit to witness to your redeeming love and draw all people to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
- Acts 2:1-21
- Psalm 104:26-36
- 1 Cor 12:1-13
- John 20:19-23
- Next week:
- Exodus 34:1-8
- Song of the Three
- 2 Cor 13:11-13
- Matthew 28:16-20
A Thought to Ponder
Day of Pentecost – John 20:19-23
Jesus breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit . . .”
Pentecost was the Jewish festival of the harvest (also called the Feast of Weeks), celebrated 50 days after Passover, when the first fruits of the corn harvest were offered to the Lord. A feast of pilgrimage (hence the presence in Jerusalem of so many “devout Jews of every nation”), Pentecost also commemorated Moses’ receiving the Law on Mount Sinai. For the new Israel, Pentecost becomes the celebration of the Spirit of God’s compassion, peace and forgiveness – the Spirit that transcends the Law and becomes the point of departure for the young Church’s universal mission (the planting of a new harvest?).
In his Acts of the Apostles (Reading 1), Luke invokes the First Testament images of wind and fire in his account of the new Church’s Pentecost: God frequently revealed his presence in fire (the pillar of fire in the Sinai) and in wind (the wind that sweeps over the earth to make the waters of the Great Flood subside). The Hebrew word for spirit, ruah, and the Greek word pneuma also refer to the movement of air, not only as wind, but also of life-giving breath (as in God’s creation of man in Genesis 2 and the
revivification of the dry bones in Ezekiel 37). Through his life-giving “breath,” the Lord begins the era of the new Israel on Pentecost.
Today’s Gospel of the first appearance of the Risen Jesus before his ten disciples (remember Thomas is not present) on Easter night is John’s version of the Pentecost event. In “breathing” the Holy Spirit upon them, Jesus imitates God’s act of creation in Genesis. Just as Adam’s life came from God, so the disciples’ new life of the Spirit comes from Jesus. In the Resurrection, the Spirit replaces their sense of self-centred fear and confusion with the “peace” of understanding, enthusiasm and joy and shatters all barriers among them to make of them a community of hope and forgiveness. By Christ’s sending them forth, the disciples become apostles – “those sent.”
The feast of Pentecost celebrates the unseen, immeasurable presence of God in our lives and in our Church – the ruah that animates us to do the work of the Gospel of the Risen One, the ruah that makes God’s will our will, the ruah of God living in us and transforming us so that we might bring his life and love to our broken world. God “breathes” his Spirit into our souls that we may live in his life and love; God ignites the “fire” of his Spirit within our hearts and minds that we may seek God in all things in order to realize the coming of his reign.
Today we celebrate the gift of God’s Spirit: the Spirit that enables us to love as selflessly and as totally as God loved us enough to become one of us, to die for us and to rise for us; the Spirit that takes us beyond empty legalisms and static measurements of “mine” and “yours” to create a community of compassion, reconciliation and justice centred in “us”; the Spirit that enables us to re-create our world in the peace and mercy of God.
In Jesus’ “breathing” upon them the new life of the Spirit, the community of the Resurrection – the Church – takes flight. That same Spirit continues to “blow” through today’s Church to give life and direction to our mission and ministry to preach the Gospel to every nation, to proclaim the forgiveness and reconciliation in God’s name, to baptize all humanity into the life of Jesus’ Resurrection.
The Spirit of God enables the Eleven – and us – to do things they could not do their own: to understand the “truth” of God’s great love for his people that is embodied in the Risen Christ, and then to boldly proclaim the Gospel of Christ. The Spirit empowers us with the grace to do the difficult work of Gospel justice, forgiveness and compassion.
The miracle of Pentecost (Acts 2) is the Spirit’s overcoming the barriers of language and perception to open not only the minds of the Apostles’ hearers but their hearts as well to understanding and embracing the Word of God.
You can read the Pew Sheet hereb7208-pentecost-a