Pentecost – Year A
May 31 2020 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Acts 2:1-11 | Psalm 104:1;24;29-31;34
I Corinthians 12:3b-7;12-13 | John 20:19-23
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
There is nothing that stands out more in my life than my first meeting with the Holy Spirit. I was seventeen years old and was a senior in high school. It was on a Wednesday, the day before the Thanksgiving holidays and I was riding in the front passenger seat in my best friend’s car as we were on our way home from school. Normally, at this time of year in southeast Texas, the weather is typical fall weather: somewhat chilly. But on this day, the weather was unseasonably balmy, so we had the windows rolled down to enjoy it. Suddenly, the car veered off the road and we hit a mailbox on the side of the road before slamming into a cement culvert which threw me through the windshield at about 45 miles per hour.
I was knocked unconscious and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. That night, while I lay unconscious in my hospital bed, I encountered a near death experience where I was in a sanctuary-type room lying on top of a high altar with the Holy Spirit present. I could not see Her, although I wanted to do so, and I was looking for Jesus or St. Peter, or the angels (keep in mind that I was only seventeen), but it was the presence of the Holy Spirit that saved me and brought me back to life.
Today’s readings all describe the part of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Each depicts the Church as a community that was created and sustained by the Spirit of God.
The term “Holy Spirit” appears three times in the Hebrew Bible. Psalm 51 refers to “Your Holy Spirit” or “ruah kodshecha” in Hebrew, and Isaiah refers twice to “His Holy Spirit” or “ruah kodsho in Hebrew.” Ruah is a Hebrew noun which refers to breath or wind, or some invisible moving force. And Genesis describes creation as “ a wind from God sweeping over the water.”
The Holy Spirit has been considered to be feminine by many scholars since around 300AD. In Syriac, a language derived from Aramaic which was in use at that time, the gender of the word spirit was feminine. Additionally, the earliest Christians—all of whom were Jews—spoke of the Holy Spirit as a feminine figure. Professor Elizabeth A. Johnson, a distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University in New York, argues that male and female images of God are equally fitting, thus breaking the dominance of patriarchal imagery. God is beyond all gender and encompasses both maleness and femaleness.
In our first reading from Acts of the Apostles, Luke, who also wrote the Gospel of Luke, tells about how the Spirit of God empowered the Church on the Jewish feast of Pentecost—a pilgrimage feast which is celebrated for fifty days (seven weeks) after Passover when Israel gathered to give thanks to God for His gifts of land and produce. People from many different regions gathered to hear testimony from the apostles, each in their own language. Luke wants us to see the universal mission of the Church for all nations.
The Greek word “glossa” refers to both the physical organ of speech and the language it produces. Luke also mentions “tongues of flames” in reference to the mighty wind and fire to symbolize God as when Moses stood before God at Mount Sinai.
In our second reading today from First Corinthians, Paul reminds us that we have been given a special gift from the Holy Spirit at baptism. Some of us were given the gift of faith, some the gift of healing others, others were given the gift of wisdom, or the gift of tongues, or the gift of prophesies, or the gift of knowledge, or the gift of working miracles, or the gift of discerning of spirits, especially evil spirits, and lastly, the gift of interpretation of tongues.
It is important to note that Paul prefers the gifts that enhance the Church and the community as opposed to those that basically serve the individual.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit have been categorized as those that promote the inner growth of the Church: apostle, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, teaching, word of wisdom/knowledge, helps and administration and those that promote the Church’s outer development: faith, miracles, healing, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
Today’s Gospel from John associates the Holy Spirit more closely with the Resurrection of the Lord than with the celebration of Pentecost. When Jesus appears to the disciples and shows them His side and His hands as a means of identifying Himself, He makes known or imparts the Holy Spirit to empower them to take up His mission that He received from God, the Father.
Jesus’ mission, as stated in Matthew twenty-eight is “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Or “Go into the whole world and preach the Good News to all creation,” From Mark sixteen
So, today, the feast of Pentecost, we are called to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, who we were instilled with at our baptism and who calls us to analyze how we are using the unique gifts that She has bestowed upon us. She will assist you as the Advocate, so let’s show our faith to the world!
Come Holy Spirit, Come!