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Contents: Volume 2 - PENTECOST - C
June 4th & 5th, 2022

 

  2022

Pentecost

 

(C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. – Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Pentecost 2022

As the many readings for Pentecost tell us today, the Holy Spirit works in many, many ways. For me, the best understanding of the Holy Spirit lies within accepting the mystery that surrounds the grace that pours forth each and every time the Holy Spirit acts. This seems to be true when I/we can identify that action or grace at the time or I/we recognize it in hindsight.

"Come, Holy Spirit" has been on my lips and in my heart much more these past few weeks than usual. Whether it needs to be a personal cry, a national one, or a worldwide one, it is clear that all humanity, if not all creation, definitely needs the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is needed not just to fill the hearts of the "faithful", but to up-end this upside-down world of ours so that the will of the Father again takes precedence in all our lives.

The Holy Spirit has many names, and as such, consequently many actions. As we are renewed through the liturgical celebration of Pentecost, let us reflect on how our lives have been changed by the Holy Spirit already. Let us implore the Holy Spirit to reveal to each of us how our personal and communal lives should be changed to align more with the Father's will for us and for all creation.

And yes, Holy Spirit, please nudge us gently or a bit less gently if needed, to cooperate in renewing not just the face of the earth, but all that is within each of us.

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Pentecost Vigil and Sunday June 4 & 5 2022

Vigil of Pentecost June 4 2022

Genesis 11:1-9 (or Exodus 19:3-8 & 16-20)(or Ezekiel 37:1-14)(or Joel 3:1-5); Responsorial Psalm 104; Romans 8:22-27; Gospel Acclamation "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful; and kindle in them the fire of your love; John 7:37-39

On all major feasts of our liturgical year, there is typically a "vigil" set of readings. A vigil is the night before, a getting ready for the big day. It is literally a "keeping watch" for the dawn of that new day when the celebration is better understood and celebrated by the liturgy, the rituals, and the preaching of the vigil. Pentecost is a really big deal. The Jews celebrated this feast based on an agricultural event – the harvest of wheat. The Passover was as well an agricultural and a herding feast. The harvest of barley signaled the time of Passover – the celebration of lambing was the herald of the Passover for shepherds.

But Pentecost is fifty days following Passover, that is the meaning of the word ‘pentecost.’

For the Jews, Passover was the celebration of freedom from slavery. The particular slavery was that of Pharoah. It is noteworthy that in the Exodus accounts of this liberation, Pharoah is not named. His name would certainly have been remembered for a thousand years in story, legend, and myth. Yet the reason he is not named is that Pharoah is a type of slave master. That slavery could be in construction, in the pursuit of power, in the pursuit of wealth, in the pursuit of domination over others within and without the nation. In our time we might call those persons, those substances, those economic structures, and systemic discriminatory cultural structures Pharoah. We should be reminded to call upon God to free us from those Pharaohs.

The feast of Pentecost for the Jews was a celebration of the reception of the Law at Mount Sinai. It was the time they understood that the law – summarized in the ten commandments – made it possible for a collection of diverse tribes to live together in harmony. The laws focused on personal and collective well-being. Worship of idols, making idols of the pursuit of economic wealth, of power dominating persons for one’s own glory, or merely manipulating the hearts and minds of a people for the purpose of their worship – all these are contrary to the commandments. Pursuit of such uses of wealth, power, and fame would invariably bring corruption robbing individuals and the nation of vitality, confidence, and integrity. Such theft always resulted in the nation becoming vulnerable to the nation building energies of neighboring nations.

Sinai, then is the establishment of a way of living, a way of relating to others, a way of peace that would lead to prosperity and peace for the nation. This peace was called Shalom – which always meant more than lack of conflict. This peace was the hope of the nation – that all would share in the prosperity and peace of Jerusalem. It signified God’s justice. And God’s justice is simply that all God’s creation has what it needs to FLOURISH. This is beyond survival – this is beyond lack of violence – this is beyond the abolishment of poverty. This is peace within the hearts and minds of each and collectively of the nation.

So, Pentecost, as a feast, was the time when the apostles and the disciples came to a new Mount Sinai. This was one not wreathed in smoke and fire, in earthquake, in storm. This came in the form of a wind and tongues of fire resting on the heads of those followers of Jesus. The fire went into their hearts and kindled them into a passion for telling the story of Jesus, of his ministry, of his trails, of his crucifixion and death and most certainly of his rising. The wind was reminiscent of the breath of God breathed into the nostrils of the clay form in the Genesis story of creation of humanity.

That breathing is the way the ancients understood themselves as in some way partaking in the life of God. It was that wind, that breath – perhaps we’d better say that ‘spirit’ – that animates humanity. That story of the creation of humankind is paralleled in a second story of humanity’s creation in Genesis that insists as well on the human connection with the transcendent God. "Let us make man in our image and likeness. Male and Female, they created them." There is something about humanity experienced as much different than animals, rocks, plants, fish, birds, and reptiles. There is something of God that animates us.

That creates for us a different destiny than all those other creations. Just as Sinai was a Way to live that would enhance human life, so this coming of the Spirit is about that. What is troubling about all this is that we have difficulty most times finding that Spirit, that image and likeness, that breath of God within us. Perhaps we are not looking? The multiple choices to choose from for the first reading in this vigil liturgy of the Word are interesting. The first option is the story of how humanity got to the condition where one person could not communicate with another. This is the legend of the Tower of Babel. Thus, divisions were formed that continue even now. The second option is about Moses going up the mountain to work on the covenant with God. God says something we should mull over as it still applies to us now: "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." In the Christian/Catholic baptismal ritual, the priest tells the newly baptized – "you are priest, prophet, and king(queen)."

The third option is one of my favorites. Ezekiel is a prophet during a terrible time for the nation. Everything is pretty bleak, and the future appears non-existent. The Lord takes him out to a huge plain and places him in the center, surrounded by human bones in every direction. They are totally dried out. The Lord asks Ezekiel if these bones – these metaphors for the people of Judah – if these bones can come to life. The Lord says to these bones: "See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life." This dead, despairing nation will be revitalized, reenergized, and hope-filled yet again. Then the story goes on and Ezekiel hears a rattling as the bones come together, bone joining bone, sinews and flesh coming on them and skin covering them. But as of yet no spirit – that is no breath of God within them, no life. Ezekiel is told to prophesize. "From the four winds, come, o spirit and breathe into these slain that they may come to life." And so, it happened.

This third reading, I think tells us what happens to us on Pentecost. The Spirit that is God, who is the glue, the vitality, and the energy of the Three Persons that is God comes into each of us. It is for us to welcome and to listen to the quiet whisperings of that Spirit. And so, we will come alive!!

The fourth reading is from the book of Joel. I love the first verses of this as well: "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions." Again, the spirit that comes to us changes everything. Surely, we are moved to welcome the spirit within our hearts – but we have to be prepared to listen, to accept, and to allow the spirit to move us.

The responsorial psalm is so very inviting for us to join in the refrain. But only if we discover within ourselves a longing to come alive. The walls of every church should vibrate into life itself with its response: "Lord, Send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth." It appears to most that the earth and all it contains can certainly benefit in our time from the renewal of the Spirit. May it be so.


Pentecost Sunday June 5, 2022

Acts 2:1-11; Responsorial Psalm 104; 1st Corinthians 12:3-7 & 12-13 (or Romans 8:8-17); Sequence – Veni Sancte Spiritus; Gospel Acclamation "Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful; and kindle in them the fire of your love"; John 20:19-23 (or John 14:15-16 &23-26)

What a wonderful day of celebration, this solemn feast day of Pentecost. It began as a celebration of the wheat harvest, that most stable of food sources. The barley harvest celebration in early spring was the beginning of the celebration of Passover. Passover as well celebrated the birthing of lambs, yet another celebration of the source of sustenance, of food for growth, for vitality, for energy. Isn’t it strange these two feast days – Passover/Easter and Pentecost the birth of the Nation of Israel/the birth of the expansive and all-inclusive birth of the Church arose historically when tribes moved from hunters and gatherers to farmers and herdsmen? The improved stability of a more certain food supply allowed humanity to come out of caves and trees to houses, towns, and nations. This great change, working itself out over centuries brought with it changes in relationships. And in that change, there were those who understood the necessity of focusing on the common good of the tribe, of the town, and ultimately of the nation. At the same time arose those who saw personal advantage in dominating the energies of the tribe for comfort, ease, and fame. There arose immediately a binary choice of goodness for the tribe versus the personal good of the individual. Corruption, slavery, violence ensued between these two forces. Evil was born and goodness stood in its way. The seesaw of conflict began. It continues throughout history – sometimes goodness holds sway and humanity learns, expands its horizons, raises up its members to new heights. Then again evil finds a way of suppression, of violence, of seeking power overall. Wars and devastations of what has been built up results. Thousands, millions are eliminated, children are orphaned or become gris for the slaughter. The struggle to right the ship that is humanity’s vessel robs everyone of resources needed to flourish.

Now, there is a word! Flourish! Over thousands of years, humanity experienced a mysterious presence. It was as though there were a force that undid what evil destroyed. In the aftermath of conflagration and death, there arose women and men whose life work was to mend and repair what evil had wrecked. There appeared new thoughts, new ways of protecting from evil’s violence. Thoughts never before thought became the way forward to renewal, to a reborn civilization. For those who saw beyond the day to day and detected a trend, it appeared that goodness saw to it that all people had what they needed to flourish. There came understanding among those who were sensitive to a quiet force, a transcendent energy behind this move toward flourishing. They identified the force as Divinity – a being beyond the physical. This being they called God and they came to know God though what was obviously beyond human capacity. They came to know this God’s work, God’s justice as being the force that worked in order that all beings had what they needed to flourish. Humanity’s experience of family, in which the father and the mother delighted in the successes and growth of their children – that experience became their understanding of the heart of God. They understood, those who looked lovingly on their children, that God had given humanity the ability to make choices. There was no coercion, there was only encouragement and possibilities for them to grow. What they surmised as God was in fact their experience of a real, functioning, loving Divinity they worshipped as God. This was no imagination that created a being whose existence resided only in their minds. This was a real Being, beyond human understanding and beyond human control. God existed and humanity experienced that existence.

Despite humanity’s understanding there remained in the human community those whose personal desires were their gods. They pursued wealth, power, and status with complete dedication, running over anyone who got in their way. Some learned how to manipulate the emotions and fears of the ones who failed to recognize the presence of the God that most others understood.

At first humanity needed to be freed from those who enslaved them. There came an Exodus, an overthrow of Pharoah by a collection of twelve tribes of persons whose ancestry came from over the great Middle Eastern River – that is the meaning of the word Hebrew. These tribes became a nation at Sinai in the desert when God through Moses presented them with a way of living that was law. These people came out of Egypt at the time of the barley harvest and the lambing. That liberation became the great feast of Passover. The agricultural and herding renewal of a fruitful year became understood as a freedom and is celebrated even today. The Christian experience expanded that into the passing over of Jesus through death to renewed, resurrected life. Evil failed to triumph by the murder of Jesus. His mission continued and was expanded in his Resurrection. What is good will triumph over what is evil. The food element of this ancient celebration continues in what we call the Eucharist. Just as the barley came to fruition from the work of human hands and the lambing was overseen by herdsmen and women, so also the food that is ours in the Eucharist is the work, the joys, the sufferings, and the daily living of those who place those mundane workings on the altar. Those sacrifices we place on the altar in offertory are the "stuff" that the Holy Spirit transforms into the body and the blood of the Christ, the dead but newly risen one.

The Hebrews became a nation under the working of the Law Moses brought down from God at Sinai. This Pentecost – the agricultural celebration of the gathering in of wheat – we receive the next iteration of that Law of Sinai. This new law does not eliminate the old law but adds to it. The old law instructed humanity to love their neighbors as they loved themselves --- really this sounds like a law of the common good. This new law goes a final step. Not only are we to love others as we love ourselves, we are now to love them as God loves us. That is a very tall order. That is how evil will ultimately be overthrown. Evil and selfishness only serves self. This new order serves all humanity. The nourishment that this new harvest brings us is shalom – that is the peace in which everyone has what they need to flourish.

This Pentecost, as in all previous ones, we welcome the presence of the Holy Spirit, that third person of the Trinity. That Spirit brings us seven gifts that are ours to use, to apply, and to grow in our hearts. For all of us who begin the pathway of loving God, this may seem contrived, some magical, superstitious endeavor meant to control behavior. We do not see, hear, smell, touch, taste God’s presence. As a result, childhood piety often devolves into adult doubt or outright agnosticism. We behave ourselves out of fear of some future eternal damnation. Heaven sounds like a boring place.

However, the presence of God is available to us if only we see, hear, smell, taste, touch that presence. Our senses need fine tuning. Just as a radio only receives the station to which it is tuned, so also if our senses are only tuned to secularistic, materialistic, consumeristic input, then that is all we receive.

This Pentecost the suggestion is that we choose one of seven aspects of the Spirit’s presence and practice that one aspect for this whole year. That means prayer and focus on the application of that aspect. Choose only one of these. Within the year, if faithful to that practice, we will develop an awareness of the presence of the Spirit. The seven choices are: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, piety, fortitude, and fear of the Lord. This last one is terribly misunderstood. God as Father, Revelation in Word and Deed as Son, and Energy and vitality as the Spirit that makes us live is not to be cause fear. Our God, all three persons, are our friends – their transcendence, their divinity is so awesome that we can only stand, like the apostles on Ascension Day, with our mouths wide open in wonder. That fear is the awe we experience when we comprehend the wonder and complexity and interrelatedness of creation. That is the awe this father experienced when hovering over the crib of a newly born son. I was overwhelmed with that new life. This is the fear of Thomas who finally sees the Risen Jesus and can only exclaim, "My Lord and my God." If we practice just one of these gifts, our attitudes and the peace of our spirits will improve. That is how evil is overthrown, that is how Pharoah, and his army are eliminated. That is how we come to know shalom and practice it with all we meet. May it be so!

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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PENTECOST: HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US

Acts 2:1-11; Romans 8:8-17; John 14:15-16, 23b-26

All through Easter time we’ve been reading and listening to that great book, the Acts of the Apostles. While it’s about all the apostles of the infant Church, all the missionaries of God’s love at that time, it’s also about the love of God in person. I’m speaking, of course, about the Holy Spirit, who in the Book of Acts is both God’s love in person (Grace) and the chief apostle. Again. and again, the Holy Spirit speaks to people and their needs through other human beings. Again, and again, other human beings act as agents, instruments, and missionaries of the Spirit. That’s very significant, for it is still one of the main ways the Holy Spirit gets through to us - enlightening and healing us.

One of our biggest needs as human beings is to grow up and mature. Becoming mature-thinking and mature-acting people involves moving away from selfishness and self-centredness, reaching out to others with interest, care, concern, and compassion, and working with others to make that better world that is God’s Kingdom. We learn to do this through our association and contact with other human beings. What’s particularly useful, helpful, and important in our dealings with others, and especially with close family and friends, are our conversations. This is especially the case when our chatting to one another gets beyond the superficial, and has to do with what matters most. On both sides, the sharing which takes place is not just listening to the other’s words, but also responding. By sharing our insights with an open mind and an open heart, we help one another grow and develop as good, sensible, responsible, and warm-hearted people.

Again and again, if we are to make progress and change our ways of living, it may be necessary to hear and heed from those we talk to, things which are challenging, things which are perhaps even quite painful, but which turn out, at least in the long run, to set us free to become better people. In fact, through the journey of a whole lifetime, we may hear ourselves being called to face many challenges and make many changes.

There’s another dimension to all this. In fact, there’s a third party in all this. In the words of others, even unintended remarks and chance conversations, God’s word may be addressed to us, God’s word of truth, the truth that sets us free, delivers and encourages us.

The word of God as it comes to us from others in conversation can be painful. We need strength to reply to the call and challenge which God speaks to us through others. Perhaps what we hear from others stirs up certain fears. Can we, e.g., take the risk of listening to them, even when they are on our side? Isn’t there some danger that if we listen to them, our self-esteem may shrink? Isn’t there some danger that if we listen to the truth coming from another person, we may end up being psychologically dependent, even under that person’s spell?

Faced with such risks, it takes considerable courage to engage in the kind of conversations that will challenge us to become more mature, more responsible, more caring, and more generous people. We find the courage to face the truth only if the other addresses us sensitively, i.e., with respect, with care, and with love. Love is the only way that works. Were we to be brutally confronted with what may be in us, e.g., our anger and superficiality, our resentment and self-rejection, we might crumble to pieces? But the gift of the acceptance, encouragement, and support of the other person creates in us the strength we need – to listen, to know ourselves better, and to accept ourselves as we are, not only with our weaknesses but also with our strengths and possibilities. The gift of the other’s care and concern, the friendship and fellowship they offer us, creates in us a deep sense of freedom – freedom to become a better person, freedom to open up and share with others the love and care which has been given to us.

Faced with the risks involved, the freedom to take those risks and let ourselves enter into a life-giving conversation and share with others, is experienced as both a power and a gift. It’s a gift, not something self-generated, a gift given to us by people who love us and care for us. Yet should we start to state what they have done for us and express our thanks, this would be too much. For typically, those significant others we talk to and support us, simply don’t realize just how much they mean to us. They may cut us short, or say something like ‘it was nothing,’ or ‘what are friends for?’ The strength and support which they communicate to us go beyond what they see themselves as giving. This takes us beyond them as God’s instruments to God’s self, the ultimate source of that understanding and support that another human being communicates to us.

So, in the conversations, friendship, love, and support, through which we grow and mature, the Holy Spirit of God, the ‘Spirit of truth’ (John 14:17), is also present as the deeper dimension of the meetings and conversations which change us for the better. This is so true that we can truly speak of certain people who support us and keep us going, as ‘Godsends.’

On this feast of Pentecost, then, let us give thanks to God for sending us the Holy Spirit, day after day, the Spirit who comes to us whenever a friend or family member or some significant other tells us what we need to hear, reaches out to us with support and friendship, and helps us live lives that are more meaningful, fulfilling, and fruitful!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year A, B, C: Pentecost (The Spirit of Enniskillen).

"Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven."

What exactly is a ‘Spirit’?

I remember once hearing a child of 11 being asked that question. It was a Holy Communion catechism class and she was meant to give the answer that the class had been told the previous week. The only problem was that she had not been there the previous week, so she had to make it up. She said: "The spirit is the bit of you that lives on after all is rest is dead and gone."

I thought that was pretty good on the spur of the moment.

As you may be able to tell from my accent, I am originally from Northern Ireland. And over the last 20-odd years, my work has taken me to many different countries all over the world. And in all of those countries, all over the world, the one thing which EVERYONE knows about Northern Ireland is that for the last 40-odd years, there has been a war in Northern Ireland between two groups of people who are divided along ethnic, social, cultural and – let’s face it - to some extent religious lines.

So it has been my joy to be able to tell all of those people that, over the last ten years or so, things have gradually been getting better. There is less violence, less loss of life, less injury, less suffering. Peace is coming to places where people did not expect to see it in their lifetimes. And the greatest joy is to be able to tell them why. Because the Holy Spirit of God is at work. There is a peace process which, very slowly and very tentatively – two steps forward and one back – really is gradually bringing peace to Northern Ireland.

They say that life can only be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. It is only by looking back on where we have been and on what we have done, that we can understand why we are where we are now.

One thing that many of the political analysts have noticed is that, with the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to look back and see clearly that there was one really critical moment in the recent history of Northern Ireland when everything changed and the level of violence started finally to decline. That moment happened on the 8th November 1987 when a bomb exploded at a Remembrance Day parade in Enniskillen - a small town of about 10,000 people. Eleven people were killed and many more were injured. Among those who were killed was a young woman called Marie Wilson. That evening there was played on the news an interview with her father Gordon Wilson who was a shopkeeper and Methodist minister in the town who had also been injured in the bomb. The interview had been recorded about an hour after the bomb exploded and just a few minutes after he had been told of his daughter’s death. With all the tact and sensitivity one might expect of a professional journalist speaking with a grieving father, the interviewer asked her father what he felt about the people who had just killed his daughter on her 21st birthday. I really cannot imagine what words went through the man’s mind, but without a moment’s hesitation, he described his last conversation with his dying daughter as they both lay buried in the rubble. These were his words. I have them memorised, but I have written them out to make sure that I get them exact:

"She held my hand tightly and gripped me as hard as she could. She said, ‘Daddy, I love you very much.’

Those were her exact words to me, and those were the last words I ever heard her say.

But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge.

Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life.

She was great wee lassie.

She loved her profession.

She was a pet.

She’s dead.

She’s in heaven and we shall meet again.

I will pray for these men tonight and every night."

It was a moment which touched the nation. He only spoke softly but his words echoed around the country. There was something in his voice which told you that he meant it just like he said it. What many people admired the most was the use of the words "I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge." As if there was no real alternative. As if turning the other cheek was the only possible response to hatred & violence.

Since that moment the momentum towards peace in Northern Ireland has been unstoppable. With the benefit of more than thirty years of hindsight, we can now see that one moment of faith and forgiveness has been a turnaround moment which has changed the history of my entire country. After Marie Wilson is dead and gone, her spirit has lived on, not only in the next world, but in this because of her father’s incredible capacity for forgiveness.

That, I believe, is the Spirit of Pentecost, which Jesus sent upon his disciples and upon the World, approximately one thousand nine hundred and eighty something years ago - TODAY.

"Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are – they really are - Forgiven."

Let us stand and profess our faith in God – Father, Son and Spirit.

Paul O'Reilly SJ

 

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