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VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS: PENTECOST SUNDAY [YEAR A] – JOHN 20:19-23

Jakarta, 4 June 2017

A Christian Pilgrim

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Posted by on June 4, 2017 in MISCELLANY

 

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JOHN’S VERSION OF THE PENTECOST

JOHN’S VERSION OF THE PENTECOST

(A biblical refection on the PENTECOST SUNDAY [YEAR A], 4 June 2017)

 

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-23 

First Reading: Acts 2:1-11; Psalms: Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13 

The Scripture Text

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.” (John 20:19-23 RSV). 

“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” (John 20:21)

Pentecost is a Greek word that means “fifty days”. It originally referred to a religious feast observed fifty days after Passover, on which the Jews thanked God for the wheat harvest. Today Christians celebrate Pentecost fifty days after Easter to commemorate the day God sent the Holy Spirit to the early Church.

In today’s Gospel, “Peace” is the first word the resurrected Jesus says to the apostles, a word the Jews used in everyday speech as both a greeting and a farewell. Jesus then shows them His hands and His side to prove that it really is Him. He truly is alive!

During this post-resurrection appearance, Jesus tells His disciples He is sending them out on a mission just as His Father sent Him on one. He then breathes on them and tells them He is giving them the Holy Spirit so they can go out and bring forgiveness to all people.

The word “apostle” comes from a Greek word that means “one who is sent” (John never calls them apostles, but he calls them disciples). In today’s reading, Jesus sends the apostles to tell the world about the forgiveness of sins made possible through His death and resurrection.

Breathing on the apostles like Jesus did may seem a bit crude but this action had much religious meaning. In the book of Genesis, we read that God gave life to the first man by breathing into his nostril (Genesis 2:7) and in the book of Ezekiel the prophet describes a dream he had in which a valley of dry bones comes to life with the breath of God (Ezekiel 27:1-14) the prophet describes a dream he had in which a valley of dry bones comes to life with the breath with new life, we should understand Jesus’ actions in today’s Gospel as Him giving new life to His Church by breathing the Holy Spirit into it.

Finally, today’s reading is the closest the four Gospels come to describing the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. We are accustomed to hearing about the strong wind and the tongues of fire appearing while the apostles and friends of Jesus gathered in prayer, a story we find not in the Gospels but in the Acts of the Apostles. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all end their Gospels with Jesus promising He will soon send the Holy Spirit but only John, in today’s reading, gives us an account of the Holy Spirit actually arriving. However, since John’s story is so simple and uneventful, we often overlook it.

(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, “Cycling Through the Gospels”, pages 44-45)

PRAYER: Blessed Holy Spirit, come! Stir up faith and hope in me today. Fill me with confidence how You are working through me when I am with my family or while I am working. I pray to You also with the hope that I will become more aware of how You are working in my life. Amen.

Jakarta, 3 June 2017 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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PENTECOST SUNDAY – 15 MAY 2016

penticost

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love; though the peoples spoke different tongues You united them in proclaiming the same faith, alleluia.

Jakarta, 15 May 2016

A Christian Pilgrim 

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2016 in MISCELLANY

 

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COME, HOLY SPIRIT, COME!

COME, HOLY SPIRIT, COME!

(A biblical refection on the PENTECOST SUNDAY, 15 May 2016)

 pentecost-rahmen

First Reading: Acts 2:1-11 

Psalms: Psalm 104:1,24,29-34; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3-7.12-13 or Romans 8:8-17; Gospel Reading: John 14:15-16,23-26 

The Scripture Text

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.” (Acts 2:1-11 RSV)

Among the qualities we must admire in others – and hopefully to be admired and found in ourselves – is fidelity. Perhaps fidelity is so admired because we experience it so rarely. What is fidelity? Fidelity is a virtue (strength) of character by which we keep our word in the face of danger and personal loss.

It is often said that times change and with it our commitments. When we make a commitment the circumstances are known. However, tomorrow or next week things may be different. This is certainly true. Yet what must endure is fidelity to our word regardless of the change of circumstances and the inconvenience that we may fac. Our word cannot be binding only when things suit us or work to advantage. Our various pledges and vows (husband, wife, priest, teacher, doctor, student, etc.) can weigh heavy on our hearts. New obligations and even misfortunes can arise. What to do? The faithful person “keeps on keeping on”. The faithful person continues to keep watch and refuses to just walk away.

ROHHULKUDUSPentecost Sunday is a powerful example of Jesus’ fidelity. In the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel we read: “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18-20). Today we celebrate the gift of the Spirit and the beginning of the public witnessing of the faith-community. Through His passion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension Jesus remained faithful. He told His followers of His constant love and guidance. Today is one of the great joy, for the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts. We can believe and trust the words of Jesus. They are forever.

Our first reading from Acts, recounting the Pentecost story, says that the Holy Spirit came to rest on the disciples, who “began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). The fear that once gripped their hearts is now replaced by God’s liberating love. They must go public and witness that “Jesus is Lord”. They mus go forth and share the peace they have received from Jesus. As their sins have been forgiven, so they must now set about the ministry of reconciliation: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23).

On this Pentecost we must ask some very profound questions of ourselves and our community: How do we witness that Jesus is Lord? Are we chariots of fire alive and burning with the flame of Pentecost? Are we bold in our proclamation and even bolder in working for justice, peace and forgiveness among individuals and communities? For today is the day that we are sent forth to proclaim peace and forgiveness froam the only One who is lasting peace and total forgiveness. The Holy Spirit comes as a flame to burn away our illusion and liberate us to see the world on fire for Christ and His peace. In a world which so desperately needs the Holy Spirit, let us be about the work of Pentecost.

There are so many false flames in the world seeking to “light up our life”. Yet in the end such flames only consume us and leave us dead and cold. The Holy Spirit is a flame of bold conviction and profound proclamations about Jesus and the truth of our lives. The flame of the Holy Spirit does not consume us but transforms us into the likeness of the One who said: “Please I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you … You heard Me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you’”  (John 14:27-28). Today in the Spirit, Jesus comes into our hearts. Let us earnestly pray: “Come, Lord Jesus! Come, Holy Spirit, come!” 

Note: Adapted from Rev. William F. Maestri, GRACE UPON GRACE, Makati, Philippines: ST. PAUL PUBLICATIONS, 1990, pages 45-47. 

Prayer: Father of light, from whom every good gift comes, send Your Holy Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of Your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Loosen our tongues to sing Your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without Your Holy Spirit man could never raise His voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord, who lives and reign with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jakarta, 14 May 2016 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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HOLY SPIRIT THE COMFORTER HAS COME

Bible-Quotes-145

Jakarta, 25 May 2015

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in MISCELLANY

 

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PENTECOST: JESUS’ PROMISE FULFILLED

detail-of-pentecost-EL-GRECO

Jakarta, 24 May 2015 [PENTECOST SUNDAY]

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS COME

THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS COME

(A biblical refection on the PENTECOST SUNDAY, 24 May 2015) 

First Reading: Acts 2:1-11 

Psalms: Psalm 104:1,24,29-34; Second Reading: Galatians 5:16-25; Gospel Reading: John 15:26-27; 16:12-15 

Pentecost3

The Scripture Text

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.” (Acts 2:1-11 RSV) 

Pentecost is perhaps the Church’s most exciting feast day of the year, for the Holy Spirit animates and makes real everything we believe. How wonderful are the fulfilments that took place on that day!

With the coming of the Holy Spirit, everything changes. We are refreshed and filled with love. Dwelling in us, The Spirit bears witness to our hearts that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16). The Spirit of God prays in us (Romans 8:26). He guides us in the truth (John 14:26). He empowers us to serve the Lord in love (Romans 7:6). He transforms us, developing His wonderful fruits in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).

This feast if also connected to Jewish worship in the Old Testament. For ancient Israel, Pentecost – fifty days after Passover – was a feast during which the whole community thanked God for the first fruits of the early harvest (Deuteronomy 16:9-12). Overtime, it came to be observed also as a feast of thanksgiving for the Torah, the Law received by Moses on Mount Sinai.

Jesus has fulfilled the words of the Old Testament. He alone was able to please God. Now, the Holy Spirit has come. He has inaugurated the harvest of all God’s people. Now, the covenant, written so long ago on tablets of stone, can be written deep in our hearts. We have a wonderful hope! All that is impossible for us according to our natural ability is made possible by the Holy Spirit’s power and grace.

Prayer: Father of light, from whom every good gift comes, send Your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of Your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Loosen our tongues to sing Your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without Your Spirit man could never raise His voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord, who lives and reign with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jakarta, 22 May 2015 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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