4 June 2017: Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Vigil: Gn 11:1-9 or
Ex 19:3-8a, 16-20b or
Ez 37:1-14 or
Jl 3:1-5
Ps 104:1-2, 24 and 35, 27-28, 29-30 Rom 8:22-27 Jn 7:37-39
Extended Vigil: [1] Gn 11:1-9
[2] Ex 19:3-8a, 16-20b
[3] Ez 37:1-14
[4] Jl 3:1-5
[1] Ps 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
[2] Dan 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 or
Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11
[3] Ps 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
[4] Ps 104:1-2, 24 and 35, 27-28, 29-30
Rom 8:22-27 Jn 7:37-39
Sunday: Acts 2:1-1 Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 Jn 20:19-23
Lectionary note
The Lectionary presents three sets of readings for Pentecost: the Vigil of Pentecost, the Extended Vigil of Pentecost, and Pentecost Sunday.
This commentary uses the readings for Pentecost Sunday.

Pentecost: bringing Easter to everyone

Red_banner_smPentecost marks the end of the Easter season and the readings that examine the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. Today’s final Easter readings give three different views on how the Spirit remains-in-relationship with the believing community and empowers us to continue Jesus’ work.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear Luke’s version of the Spirit’s coming to the believing community on the Jewish feast of Pentecost, fifty days after Passover. Luke reinterprets the Jewish Pentecost feast as God renewing the covenant with a new people. Using wind and fire images, Luke connects God’s presence at Sinai with the Spirit’s presence at Pentecost. Through the Spirit’s action, everyone is able to hear the disciples’ message “in his own language.” The Spirit reverses Babel’s confusion of language (Gen 11), enabling the disciples to invite everyone into God’s kingdom.

In the second reading, Paul describes the Spirit’s actions in the believing community as spiritual gifts, functions, or workings. Some Corinthians thought that a spiritual gift indicated the recipient’s importance. Paul tells them that a gift benefits the whole believing community. All share the same body and Spirit through baptism; baptism removes all cultural and social distinctions. All share in one Body of Christ and the kingdom.

The gospel gives John’s account of the Spirit’s coming, which he places on the evening of Jesus’ resurrection. John highlights Jesus’ three actions:

  • Blessing. Jesus’ blessing (“Peace be with you”) brings the disciples into communion with the Father and drives out the disciples’ fear.
  • Sending. Jesus commissions his disciples to continue his mission (“As the Father sent me, I send you”). Jesus incorporates the disciples into his own saving mission: to free humans from sin’s slavery (Jn 8:34-36).
  • Receiving the Spirit. Just as God breathes life into the first human (Gen 2:7), Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into his disciples, giving them his power over sin. The Spirit unites the disciples to the risen Jesus, and the Spirit’s remaining-in-relationship with the disciples gives them a share in the Father’s kingdom. Through the Spirit, Jesus gives the disciples authority to take away sin. Through the Spirit’s power, the believing community administers God’s mercy, continuing Jesus’ mission to the world.

Jesus’ resurrection has many meanings and many implications. The Easter season has given us time to reflect on this cosmos-changing event. The Lectionary readings have presented stories, poems, songs, and visions to help us see Easter from many viewpoints-lived human experience, mystery, faith, sacraments, theology. This week we celebrate the ekklesia‘s birth through the Spirit’s coming. Baptism incorporates us into the ekklesia, and we promise to complete Jesus’ mission. Confirmation’s coming of the Spirit strengthens us and gives us needed gifts to bring Jesus’ saving message of forgiveness to the world. The Spirit’s coming completed Jesus’ mission. How are we meeting our baptismal promise to continue Jesus’ work? How are we using the Spirit’s gifts to announce Jesus’ Easter message of God’s mercy?

—Terence Sherlock

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