Gospel Reflection May 23 – Msgr Hendricks
Sunday, May 23
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.”
Pentecost is told through the book of Acts. St. Luke is the only one who tells the Pentecost story of the first Christian Pentecost. Originally a feast of the Jews it was a harvest festival feast known to them as Sukkot. Not only was it to celebrate the first harvest of the year but to also remind the Jews and to have them remember the time of the Exodus sojourn after they left Egypt. The people would remember the mighty acts of God on their behalf. In the Acts of the Apostles today the first reading describes the story and the way in which people who spoke different languages heard the message in their own language. The Spirit who speaks unites them. This miracle is in direct reference to the time when this was not the case when the languages of others confused and confounded the people in the Tower of Babel story. Babel is the inability to understand one another’s language and the animosity that brings. The gift of the Spirit unites all to hear and understand the voice of the one who has come to save all people.
As the message of Spirit unites and allows communication to take place and the greeting of Peace that Jesus brings in the gospel confirms this, the world is brought to a new understanding of redemption. As we fast forward to today, we see this unity disrupted in many ways by human sinfulness and the inability to accept the diversity that is all around us. So many of our problems and issues are self-inflicted and we struggle to find our way.
The gift that Pentecost and the Holy Spirit brings to the world are sevenfold: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, fortitude, counsel, piety, fear of the Lord. These are the tools that are before us to help heal a broken and frightened and polarized world.
Pentecost is not only a remembrance but a celebration and a call to action for our hearts and lives today.