Pentecost Sunday – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Empowered By The Spirit”.
The first reading and the Gospel present the descent of the Spirit. It is the same event presented differently.
The teachings of Luke and John complement each other and inform us that the Spirit is the ‘new Law’, the force that leads humankind to do good, comes from within the heart.
The Spirit is the source of unity (it pulls down all barriers) and wherever it arrives it destroys sin.
The second reading tells us that Christ is present in the Church through the Spirit. The Spirit bears witness that we are all God’s children, sharing in his sufferings, so as to share his glory.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.”
Acts 2:1-11. Pentecost Sunday Yr. C
The first reading tells us how the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’ followers and how they reacted. They heard a powerful wind from heaven and then “divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.” They all “began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability.” Through the Spirit they now possessed the power and the ability to share the ‘Good News’ with all nations.
The rabbis used to say that on Sinai, on Pentecost day, when God was giving the Law, his words changed into ‘seventy tongues of fire’, to signify that this law was foreordained for all the nations of the earth (thought to be seventy). The ‘old Law’ was given among peals of thunder, flashes of lightning and fire…how else could Luke present ‘the new Law’, the gift of the Spirit?
God decided to change the hearts of his people. The Law of the Spirit is the new heart, the ‘life of God’ which, once it enters a person, transforms and changes that person into a branch that produces ‘good fruit’, capable now of spontaneously producing the works of God. The many languages spoken by the apostles are symbolic to teach us that the Church is ‘truly universal’. The Gospel is for all peoples of the earth; the Gospel message pulls down all language, racial and tribal barriers.
All those who allow themselves to be transformed by the word of the Gospel and by the Spirit, now speak a language that everybody can understand and that people can be united in this one language of Love. When we are filled with the Spirit, something never heard of before takes place: we love with the same love as God loves.
The events of that first Christian Pentecost took place in an exclusive context of Judaism. The people were from all over the world, but they were all Jews, Jews by birth or by conversion. This would change. In fact, the rest of Acts is the story of how the Church grew and changed from being a Jewish sect to becoming an all-embracing community of faith.
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34.
Today’s Psalm is one of the very greatest of the psalms; sing to God as Creator of the universe. But here the Spirit is a slightly different phenomenon; it is the force, which gives life to us beings: ‘you take away their Spirit, and they die and return to the dust’.
And, by way of contrast, ‘you send your Spirit, and they are created, and you renew the face of the earth’. The psalmist reflects on God’s goodness in creation. Those who appreciate his fidelity and kindness appreciate his world. His Spirit ‘renewed the face of the earth’ at Pentecost.
In the second reading Paul is giving his audience their grounds for confidence as a Church. The Church, he tells them, is those who are ‘not in flesh, but in Spirit, given that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst’. What does this mean? It is to say that Christ is present in the Church and that the Church has the Spirit’s ‘life because of justification’.
It is also the place of resurrection, ‘the Spirit of the One who raised Christ from the dead’, the place of life ‘for those who are led by the Spirit of God are God’s children’. So we are not slaves, but cry out ‘Abba, Father’, sharing Jesus’ bleak Gethsemane prayer, because ‘the Spirit himself bears witness along with our spirit that we are God’s children’. So it does not matter if the Church goes into Gethsemane, and onto Calvary, because ‘we suffer with Christ in order to be glorified with Christ’.
John 14:15-16, 23-26. Pentecost Sunday Yr. C
In the Gospel of Luke the action of the Spirit plays an important role. Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit and carried out his mission under the influence of this Spirit. Earlier on Jesus had already foretold that all who believe in him would receive the Spirit. In the ‘farewell speech’, Jesus promises again the ‘Spirit of Truth’ to come to stay with the disciples. This promise is fulfilled before the end of the Gospel when Jesus ‘dies on the Cross’ and breathes his Spirit into the world. When he appears to the disciples as the ‘Risen Christ’ he breathes on them to give them his Spirit and send them out to reconcile all people to God (Jn 20:19-23).
There is continuity between Jesus and the community of believers, the Church. As Jesus was guided throughout his ministry by the Spirit, so the apostles and the first Christian community felt strongly that the Spirit of Jesus was present in them and among them. The Acts of the Apostles describe beautifully how the Spirit made them understand the deep meaning of the message of Jesus and gave them the courage to proclaim it openly without fear. Whenever there were new situations that needed creativity, they felt the Spirit of Jesus was there to enlighten them and guide them in the ‘Way’. They finally realized that Jesus was truly present among them through his Spirit. The Church today, still lives in the faith that the Spirit will continue to show it how to pursue the mission of Jesus until the ‘end of time’.
How does the Spirit of Jesus show his Spirit in the Church? Jesus in his farewell speech had stressed so much the importance of ‘love’ as a distinctive mark of a disciple of Jesus (Jn 15:9-17). God, who is love, has loved us first so that we might love each other. The source of that love is the Spirit who has been given to us (1 Jn 4:13). The visible signs of the outpouring of God’s Spirit into our hearts are the sacraments. In ‘Baptism’ we all receive the Spirit and become children of God. The ‘Sacrament of Confirmation’ makes us conscious of this gift and of the mission Jesus has entrusted to us, to evangelize the world around us. The ‘Sacrament of Reconciliation’ allows us to repent for our sinfulness and through His grace, forgiveness and love; we continue to be part of the family of God.
Jesus’ Spirit gives us the strength to stand up for the truth, to be honest even when it is costly and to fight for justice whenever we see people abused and humiliated, just as Jesus did. Some Christians, Catholics and Protestants have had a powerful experience of the Spirit in their lives through the Charismatic Renewal. Through it, some have discovered the power of the ‘Word of God’, and the grace given in the sacraments.
This experience has made many more courageous enough to witness Jesus through their words and through their lives. However when we experience the presence and power of God’s Spirit in us, we must be careful not to become proud and despise others. The Spirit is given not for our own glory, but to build up ‘Christ’s Body’, the Church (1 Cor 12).
This Pentecost day identify and celebrate the signs of the Spirit’s vitality in our parish community…prayerfulness, works of service, heroic courage, family stability, generosity, forgiveness and love. There are a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit.
“The Holy Spirit is the Lord, the Giver of Life.”
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following Pentecost Sunday Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. …Today on Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the Church’s birthday, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of ‘tongues of fire’. The Spirit unites us all with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in unity with our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Mon. … The ‘Law of the Spirit’ is the ‘new heart’, the ‘new life’ in God, which transforms and changes persons into branches of the vine that will produce ‘good fruit’. Let us pray that we may perform and produce the works of God according to his will.
Tue. …On Pentecost day we have the exact opposite of what happened at Babel (Gen 11:1-9). Let allow ourselves to be transformed by the Spirit through the words of the Gospel to now speak a language that all can understand, a language of compassion and love. Let us pray to learn to love as God loves.
Wed. …The Church is a place of ‘resurrection’ for many ‘die to self and sin’, and ‘rise to new life’ in our Lord. The Spirit in the Church guides us through the Gethsemane’s of our lives and helps us when our cross and trials become too heavy.
Thur. …The apostles believed and trusted that whenever they needed help in new situations that the Spirit of Jesus was with them to guide them in the ‘Way’. Do we live in faith and truly believe that Jesus’ Spirit will continue to guide us in fulfilling the will of God and the plan that he has for each one of us.
Frid. …The Spirit gives us the strength to stand up for the truth and to fight for justice whenever we see people being treated unfairly, abused, humiliated and marginalized. Do we make good use of this power and strength given to us by the Spirit to spread the ‘Good News’ and strive for the rights of those oppressed or do we conveniently look the other way?
Sat. …Let us constantly seek the graces and signs of the ‘Outpouring of the Holy Spirit’. Visible signs are given to us in the form of the sacraments. Let us make full use of these ‘visible signs’, these gifts of love from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, today we celebrate the great beginning of Your Church. On Pentecost, You set aflame the hearts of the apostles with the tongues of fire from heaven, which enabled them to preach the truth about the marvels of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the languages of all the nations. We rejoice that in our own day there is great and ever-growing awareness of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who adorns the Church with His marvellous variety of gifts, virtues and supports. We pray that the Holy Spirit may dwell in our hearts so that we may be true to Your will.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.