Readings

* Acts 2:1-11 – First wonderful fruits of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

* 1 Cor 12:3-7.12-13 – The Holy Spirit makes the Church one.

* Jn 20:19-23 – The Risen Christ gives the Holy Spirit to his Apostles.

Theme: THE TRANSFORMING AND UNIFYING ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

     We live in a divided world, torn by conflicting interests, one faction or one nation often pitted against others, in an endless quest for hegemony, or liberation from so many forms of enslavement. Such is the tragic inheritance of original sin, and of the deep divisions that have in the tower of Babel their perennial symbol. Such is the result of man’s selfishness, aggressiveness, pride, and greed.

Left to ourselves, we are unable to overcome such powerful destructive forces. That is why the Lord Jesus promised and gave us the Holy Spirit, as the divine healing Power which can undo the tragedy of division and mistrust created by our sinfulness, and fashion us into a beautiful family of nations, races, and cultures. In this “new mankind” created by the Spirit, both joys and sufferings are shared in brotherly solidarity and love. Let us open our hearts to him as we sincerely long for his coming into our lives and in our society.

First Reading – Acts 2:1-11

Structure

* 1-4   –  The descent of the Holy Spirit and the first effect of his presence in the disciples

* 5-11 –  The reaction of the people present in Jerusalem

Historical Background

     An outpouring of the Spirit was one of the “signs” of the messianic times. (See Is 2:2 and Jl 3:1-5.) John the Baptist had foretold that the Messiah would baptize his followers “in the Holy Spirit and fire.” (See Mt 3:11.) Jesus himself had repeatedly promised that he would send another “Helper” or “Advocate.” (See Jn 15:26; 16:7.13.)

These promises/prophecies were fulfilled during the Jewish feast of Pentecost when the people of Israel celebrated the gifts of the Covenant and of the Ten Commandments.

Introduction

     The beginning of the second chapter of the Book of Acts contains the account of the transformation produced by the Spirit in the apostles and the unifying effect which their preaching had on all those who heard them. On that occasion, the Spirit began to reverse the process of estrangement that had started when the first human beings gave in to the devil’s temptation, and which found its dramatic manifestation in the episode of the Tower of Babel. (See Gn 3 and 11:1-9.) The “time and mission of the Church” has officially begun.

PENTECOST SUNDAY June 8, 2014