The Feast of Pentecost (20 May 2018)
Acts 2:1-11; Ps 104; Gal 5:16-25; John 15:26-27, 16:12-15
Theme: Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth (Ps 104:30)
From the beginning the spirit or breath (ruah) of God brought life and harmony to all of creation. Each time God spoke, God breathed life into creation. “When God was about to create the heaven and the earth, the earth was chaos and unformed and on the chaotic waters’ face there was darkness. Then God’s spirit glided over the face of the water and God said: ‘Let there be light’…” (Gn 1:1-3)
The reading from Acts describes the descending of the Holy Spirit as a mighty wind and fire which filled those present with courage to speak out about the wonders of God.
Because it was the festival of Pentecost – “the 50th day” after Pesach – the harvest festival or feast of first-fruits of grain harvest (among the three major festivals mentioned in Ex 23:14-17), there were many “Jews, men of every nation under heaven” visiting Jerusalem. They all heard the apostles declaring “the mighty works of God” in their own language. The message was about new life in Christ and there was no division of languages - harmony among those who heard.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells his apostles about the “Counsellor” (Sunday Missal) whom he and his Father will send. According to McKenzie (1965:845) spirit is the “Paraclete” in John, who is the spirit of truth who dwells in the apostles and is unknown to the world. The Spirit comes from the Father and bears witness to Jesus. The Spirit is the Helper who will remind the apostles of what Jesus has taught them and will guide them further into the truth. As Jesus has glorified the Father and made him known; so the Spirit will glorify Jesus and make him known.
The Psalm is a prayer of praise of the great works God achieved. The earth is full of the creatures God created in the beginning and it is right for us to know that should God take away our breath we would die. But instead of that God sends his Spirit to recreate and renew the earth and its people. Therefore it is right for us to rejoice in the Lord.
The Paraclete is in the continuing life of the Church what Jesus is in its foundation (ibid).
And so we have Paul encouraging the Galatians and us to “walk by the Spirit, and not to gratify the desires of the flesh”. The Spirit is our helper and our guide in the way of living as Christ did so as to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful; and renew in us the face of the earth.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1.What is your relationship with the Holy Spirit? Does it need faith and renewal? 2. Paul ends this passage telling us that if we live by the Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit by having “no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another”. Am I walking by the Spirit?
Bibliography: Eskenazi, T. C. Weiss, A.L. A Women’s Commentary (New York: 2008); McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965); The Daily Missal (Paulines Africa 2012)
This week’s Sunday Gospel Commentary was prepared by
Bernadette Chellew, KZN, South Africa, Bat Kol Alum 2008
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