Pentecost Sunday-Cycle C-2016

FIRST READING        Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.  At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?  Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?  We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

SECOND READING                  1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:  No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.  There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.  As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

GOSPEL            John 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

The Holy Spirit!  Most of us recognize a person who has spirit!  Most of us recognize a holy person, even if we have met such a person only once in our lives.  Probably many of us would say that we have never had a direct experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives, even if we have been confirmed.  Let us look at the readings again to listen to what is being said.

The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, gives an account of the first experience of Christian Pentecost.  We can reflect on this experience:  a noise like a strong, driving wind; tongues of fire, separated and over each one present; speaking in different languages; hearing in different languages.  We are not given an answer to how many Christians were gathered together or to what their own feelings were about this descent of the Spirit.  The focus seems more on the work of God than on the feelings of the people present—although it is clear that there was wonderment.

The second reading is from the First Letter to the Corinthians.  This passage wants to remind us that there are many gifts of the Holy Spirit and that such gifts are given for some benefit—not to draw attention to the person with the gifts.

The Gospel of John shows Jesus giving the Spirit to His disciples.  This Spirit is to forgive sins—but also to retain sins.  This is a complex gifts and immediately makes us aware that the Spirit is not a gentle Spirit but a strong Spirit that draws us to God or tells us that we are not ready to move to God yet!

Each of us needs to reflect on his or her experience of the Spirit.  Lots of us never think much about the Spirit in our lives.  From the readings today, however, we can see clearly that the Spirit is not something just for ourselves.  No, the Spirit is meant to draw me to serve others, to help others, to pray for others, to forgive others.  There are so many ways to do this!  That is why there are so many gifts of the Spirit.

This is the day of Pentecost and each of us should ask the Holy Spirit to come into us, into our hearts and minds, to transform us more completely into the image of Jesus Christ.  The role of the Spirit is always about Jesus.  The Spirit gives us the same message as Jesus.  The Spirit deepens our knowledge of Jesus.  Whenever we feel any impulse to know Jesus more or to spend time with Jesus, we can recognize that the Spirit is active in us.  When we are drawn to love for the sake of the Gospel, then the Spirit is active in us.  When we want to do the right thing in whatever we are doing, that also is the Spirit in us.

Come, Holy Spirit, put your fire in our hearts.  Draw us to love the Lord and to love all others.  Amen.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip