The Solemnity of Pentecost is one of the most visually striking events in the New Testament. The scripture readings used today tell a story of transformation, unity, peace and being sent out to spread the Good News.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we hear how the apostles were transformed from being timid and afraid, into evangelists; going out and speaking boldly to pilgrims who were visiting Jerusalem from all around the Mediterranean Sea.
We also hear how the crowds; who had previously shown little interest in their message; were transformed from their stubbornness and lack of ability to understand; into people who became astonished as they heard the Word of God in a way they could understand; all of this through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The second reading from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians highlights how all who profess Jesus as Lord; form one body. We are all given different gifts through the Holy Spirit and are expected to use them for the benefit of others, or in other words, for the benefit of the Body of Christ. Being one body, we should all look to protect one another and to look after the welfare of one another. As a healthy human would never do anything to deliberately harm their own body so we should never do anything which could harm another part of the Body of Christ.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus bestow His peace upon the disciples. This message given almost 2,000 years ago is even more important in these days for us. With the war in Ukraine seeming to get worse every week, how we all long for peace to be restored there. With the Cost-of-Living crisis biting harder for many people; how can these people find peace?
I am inspired by the words of the late Benedictine priest Fr Placid Murray; he reminds us that
Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you’ and then breathed on the disciples in a similar way to how God breathed the spirit of life into Adam; who He had formed from the dust of the earth. He has breathed a new spirit into us also, at our baptism and our confirmation. He makes us new; he gives us peace. But he does so, by changing us, but not necessarily changing the circumstances we have to live through. This is our difficult task: to live in the peace of Christ in times which are troubled, and in a world that is disturbed.
- We have to look inwards for our peace.
- We have to pray for peace.
- But how hard it is to keep on praying.
That is where the Holy Spirit comes to aid us in our weakness.1
I need to remember in the times when I feel down or alone or when I am troubled that I must remember to pray. Jesus gave us our Advocate to help us, as He knew we cannot do everything under our own power. I know that I often forget this and need to remind myself at those times.
Can you remember a time when the Holy Spirit allowed you to feel the Peace of Christ? – what prompted it? What do we need to do to restore that peace?
For me a recent example of this is when I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in Medjugorje last year, the Sacrament itself is a wonderful experience; this was enhanced by the surroundings and being aware that hundreds of others were celebrating this Sacrament at the same time around me; all of us having the opportunity to start afresh.
Jesus continued in the Gospel to tell the disciples that He was sending them out into the world just as the Father had sent him. As we are disciples of Jesus, do we ever consider who we have been sent out to? Who is waiting for us to deliver the message of Christ so that they can be transformed by the Holy Spirit?
I may have mentioned previously of a time, long before I was ordained, when I was not attending Mass regularly. I was standing in a shop with some friends buying breakfast when an elderly man from St Michael’s Parish walked into the shop, pointed at me and said that I should be going to Mass with my wife and children. He then closed the door and walked out. He really got inside my head and made me recognise that he was right.
I believe he was prompted by the Holy Spirit, this was confirmed for me a few years later, when I was taking that same man to a hospital appointment and recalled the story to him. He had no recollection of it and seemed astonished that he would have done this. That encounter, along with other little hints and encouragement from many people helped me to find my way back to the journey I was called to. God works in us and through us, the Holy Spirit can transform lives if we let him.
The disciples were sent out to preach the Good News, they and their successors have reached all parts of the world. We only need to look around us in our Parishes today to see how successful they were. We have people from all around the world joining us both in person and on occasions virtually via the internet. Now we are the disciples of the 21st Century, our mission is the same as those original disciples. Go out, share the Good News by our actions and our words, loving God and our neighbour. Helping Jesus to renew the face of the earth.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Solemnity of Pentecost
CCC 696, 726, 731-732, 737-741, 830, 1076, 1287, 2623: Pentecost
CCC 599, 597,674, 715: apostolic witness on Pentecost
CCC 1152, 1226, 1302, 1556: the mystery of Pentecost continues in the Church
CCC 767, 775, 798, 796, 813, 1097, 1108-1109: the Church, communion in the Spirit
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The success of the pastoral area formation programme ‘The Wild Goose’ which we are using as part of the Year of the Holy Spirit.
- The success of the forthcoming Diocesan Life in the Spirit programme starting in June.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Our young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation who have their retreat this weekend.
- Those discerning a vocation.
- Those preparing to be ordained to the priesthood or diaconate.
- Paisley, Gayram, Miracle, Emily and Marina who are being baptised at St Bede’s this weekend and Allesandro who was baptised recently at St Michael’s.
1 Placid Murray OSB, 100 Liturgical Homilies, [The Columba Press, Dublin, 1988]50.