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Wednesday, June 8, 2011


June 12, 2011
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

Pentecost is portrayed by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles as a momentous event where believers from many nations are gathered together to receive the powerful gift of the Holy Spirit. It is an image that captured the attention of many iconographers and artists. On the other hand, John’s Gospel links the sending of the Holy Spirit, a Pentecost moment, with the Easter appearance of Jesus in the Upper Room. While Luke’s account is filled with tremors, earth-shaking winds, and miracles of speaking in tongues, John’s portrayal is gentle as Jesus appears to his fearful disciples in hiding and wishes them a consoling peace that takes away all fears. When we hear these readings back to back, we wonder which version is correct. How could the accounts be so far apart?

Luke’s version gets all the attention because everyone wants to see the mighty power of God. People want tangible, dramatic expressions that God is present among us (as if the Resurrection isn’t enough!). The storm wind and fire represents the heavenly origin of the Spirit. Luke is attempting to depict not the charismatic power of the early disciples, but to broaden the dynamism of the community’s mission. The Spirit is the principal mover of Pentecost that opens up the church to the uncircumcised. The gathering of Jews from many nations reveals the inclusive nature of the ministry. The Spirit’s reach is as far west as Crete and eastward to the Arabs in the known world. He links it with the Spirit of Christ to dispel any notion that the Spirit is merely Christ’s surrogate on earth. The Spirit provides the continuity between Jesus and the mission of the church. The ministries of the church are continuous with his own ministries – not something that happens at the time of his departure.

John shows the promises of Jesus’ return are fulfilled at his “hour,” which is his exaltation/glorification. The joy Jesus promises is evident in the consolation of the disciples and they receive “peace” as a gift. Just as in Luke, the disciples are sent on a mission, John equates the breathing of the Spirit upon the disciples as their mission. They are to go forth and be the representatives of Jesus. Jesus is the source of eternal life and the Spirit is an expression of the divine indwelling. The disciples are sent to preach forgiveness through the power of the Spirit of Jesus. They can bring others into the community through the Spirit’s baptism. John, therefore, links Pentecost with Easter. Jesus mediates Pentecost through true gentleness, which is more powerful than the most dramatic events.

Paul tells the Corinthians that the Spirit is given uniquely to each person for a specific benefit. The source of these gifts is always from Jesus. Pentecost is always a good time to take stock of the spiritual gifts we received and to check ourselves to discern how well we use these gifts. As we contemplate what we have been given, let’s remember the One who is the source of these gifts. I find it uplifting to contemplate God and to say thanks for the way God has richly rewarded me. I recognize the gifts are particular to us becausee we are believers in a generous God who cares deeply for us.

Sometimes we may not fully understand our gifts and our calling. We may not see that we have a great effect upon those around us because we compare the smallness of our contributions to the greatness of others. We diminish the importance of what we have been given. We ought not to do that! We are to cherish even the tiniest of our gifts; when we do that we glorify God and we let the gifts enlarge themselves in manifold ways. Besides, John’s point is that God’s work is seen most powerfully in the tiny, small, unnoticeable ways. True greatness comes from rejoicing in the tiniest of details or the gentlest, most undetectable acts – like the silent, unseen breath that gives life to others.

Themes for this Week’s Masses

First Reading: While in Corinth, Paul outlines the manner by which we are to morally live as Christians - recognizing that our way will be counter-cultural. God's grace overflows in a wealth of generosity upon the Macedonians and Paul praises their spontaneous service to others as a sign of grace. God will bestow greater abundance on those who give generously to those in need. Paul cautions them to beware of false teachers who present a different Gospel. Paul's actions testify to the authentic message he gave them. While no one is to boast, Paul boasts only in the Lord because of the marvels through adversity he worked in Paul's life. He is fully aware of his weakness and challenges, as he was given a thorn in his side, that tries to keep him from proclaiming his message from Christ.

Gospel: Jesus transforms the justice principle "an eye for an eye" to one of exceeding mercy - as this is the way God deals with our transgressions. He does the same with the teaching on dealing with enemies declaring that we are to love them. Our radical way of life will be an example to many others. We are not to trumpet our goodness for others to hold up, but we are to do it because God in heaven will see our good works in secret. The test of our relationship with God is shown in the ways we relate to him. Jesus teaches the disciples to pray a simple Jewish prayer of dependence upon God. The treasures we store up are to be the ones that we carry into heaven, not the ones we covet on earth. Life is simpler is we live freely and without care like the birds or the lilies in the field. God takes them of them similarly to the way God cares for us.

Saints of the Week

Monday: Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor (1195-1231), became a biblical scholar who eventually joined the Franciscans. Francis sent him to preach in northern Italy, first in Bologna and then Padua. He very especially beloved because of his pastoral care, but he died at age 36.

This Week in Jesuit History

• Jun 12, 1928. Fr. General Ledochowski responded negatively to the idea of intercollegiate sports at Jesuit colleges because he feared the loss of study time and the amount of travel involved.
• Jun 13, 1557. The death of King John III of Portugal, at whose request Francis Xavier and others were sent to India.
• Jun 14, 1596. By his brief Romanus Pontifex, Pope Clement VIII forbade to members of the Society of Jesus the use or privilege of the Bulla Cruciata as to the choice of confessors and the obtaining of absolution from reserved cases.
• Jun 15, 1871. P W Couzins, a female law student, graduated from Saint Louis University Law School, the first law school in the country to admit women.
• Jun 16, 1675. St Margaret Mary Alacoque received her great revelation about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
• Jun 17, 1900. The martyrdom at Wuyi, China, of Blesseds Modeste Andlauer and Remy Asore, slain during the Boxer Rebellion.
• Jun 18, 1804. Fr. John Roothan, a future general of the Society, left his native Holland at the age of seventeen to join the Society in White Russia.

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