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Today marks the end of the Easter Season and it is a celebration of the fullness of the Lord’s presence in our lives. This feast is not meant to historicize or reenact the first Pentecost. Rather, Pentecost is a feast, which reminds us of the fact that the Holy Spirit is given to the present Church to fulfill the commands of Christ. According to Luke, the actual event took place on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. This was and still is a Jewish celebration, which honors the giving of the covenant to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This event on Mt. Sinai was accompanied by wind and fire– a very similar experience to the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Pentecost marks the gift of the fullness of the risen Christ now present to the Church in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a gift to the Church and the Spirit is not to be possessed by any one person or group of people. In fact, the Spirit is most present in the act of charity.
Today’s first reading is most appropriate to an understanding of the Holy Spirit in charity. What comes across vividly is the experience of many people from many languages and many tongues suddenly able to understand one another. This is a complete reversal of the experience of the people at the Tower of Babel. We remember that in the experience at Babel a people who spoke one language suddenly became confused and unintelligible to one another. This was a result of their stubbornness and pride. In contrast, the Holy Spirit is the gift of unity and in today’s reading people from many countries and many languages suddenly experience the ability to understand one another.
The second reading from Corinthians is a well known piece of scripture, which speaks of the oneness made manifest by the Spirit. The Spirit transcends all differences among people and suddenly Jew and Greek, slave and freeperson are one. This is also the reading that helps us to understand the purpose of the Spirit’s gifts. The Corinthians were in trouble because they were a proud and highly competitive people. In many ways, they struggled with the same problems of morality and materialism that we do today in the western world. They were always arguing about who was the most important, who had the most money, the biggest house, the nicest horse, the best chariot, etc. It is understandable that they transferred these attributes into their religious life and they began to rank each other according to what they perceived as the most to least important gifts of the Spirit. Speaking in tongues became a mark of distinction and Paul had to come and remind them that all the gifts are important and necessary for the completion of God’s work. There are many gifts but the same Spirit bestows them all.
The gospel for today is also well known and adds another parallel to our scriptural experience. We all recall the creation story when God breathed into the clay of the earth and formed the human race. Today’s gospel is a recreation story. Today Christ breathes on sinful humans and commissions them to go forth and proclaim His peace to the world. These confused, fearful, and uncertain apostles suddenly became the strength of the Church through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is also the gift of reconciliation of the Church as the apostles are given the power to forgive sins which stand in the way of the unity desired by the Spirit of Christ. This gift slowly developed into the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The mission of Christ continues today through each of us as we are called and gifted by the Spirit of Christ in our individual and unique way. Let us pray today that we may stand together as one people and one Church. May we be the bearers of peace and unity in our world.
Over the past several months our new Pastor, Fr. Tim Fairman, along with the selection committee has worked tirelessly to find a new principal for St. Theresa School. The new principal’s name is Mary Keenley. I do not at this time have enough biographical information to publish so this announcement will suffice for the time being. It is good for everyone to know that during this coming transition there will be a feeling of stability for the parish. I wish her and the new pastor much luck and blessings.
The day after Pentecost marks the return to Ordinary Time. There is no longer an octave following Pentecost Sunday. However, we still have two Sunday celebrations remaining before we return to the Sundays of Ordinary Time. These are Holy Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi Sunday. More information will follow in the coming bulletins but I want everyone to be aware of the liturgical celebrations as they transition us back into Ordinary Time.
May I once again thank you for your constant generosity to St. Theresa Parish. Each of you has made it possible for me to do many wonderful things over the last 12 years. God bless you.
Msgr. Richard M. Zborowski
May 19, 2013