Understanding Our Faith

Pentecost

With the feast of Pentecost, we come to the end of the season which began on Ash Wednesday, climaxed at Easter and continued on to the day of Pentecost.  This whole season centres around the death and resurrection of Jesus, as does our whole faith.  So Pentecost is not a separate feast but a part of the playing out of the core feast of Easter.  The gospels of the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday proclaim the resurrection of Jesus out of death and then the gospel of the Second Sunday of Easter, which recounts the disciples’ experience of the risen Lord, has the risen Lord saying to them: “As the Father has sent me, so am I sending you”.  He then breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit….” (John 20:19-22).  So the gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of the Lord who is alive and wishes to give them that new life.

The Feast of Pentecost draws out the meaning of this gift of the Spirit of God.  Jesus’ breathing on them is no accident.  It parallels the breathing of God the Creator into Adam and Eve, those symbols of all human beings.  As the breath of God gives life to all human beings, his earthenware creatures, so does the breath of Christ give a new life to those first believers.  It is the Spirit at work within believers that convinces them of their faith in Christ and shines light upon the mystery of who he is and what he has done for us. 

For Pentecost Sunday, there are many readings provided all of which have something to say to us about the Spirit’s presence in us and in our world.  There is a separate Vigil Mass for the feast which offers a choice of four old testament readings with their psalms (Genesis 1:1-9; Exodus 19:3-8,16-22; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Joel 3:1-5), plus a second reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans (8:22-27) and a short passage from St John’s Gospel (7:37-39).

The Mass during the day has as its first reading Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11 which is the account of Pentecost; as a second reading, it has St Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; and as its Gospel St John 20:19-23.  This selection of readings provides fruitful material for prayer to the Holy Spirit and about the Holy Spirit.

By Fr Frank O’Loughlin

 

Faith Reflections

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Ann Rennie

Thank you, Father Frank, from one of God's humble "earthenware creatures" - such an evocative phrase.

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