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The Solemnity of Pentecost, May 11, 2008 Scripture Readings First Acts 2:1-11. Second 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13. Gospel John 20:19-23. Prepared by: Fr.

Stephen Dominic Hayes, OP 1. Subject Matter

The Solemnity of Pentecost celebrates the manifestation in power of the Holy Spirit in the infant Church after the Lord's resurrection and ascension to glory. This is marked by a theophany reminiscent of Old Testament events, particularly the giving of the law of Moses on Mount Sinai. From now on, the love Christ will not be written upon tablets of stone, but upon human hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, which Christ gives as a gift today to his Church. In Genesis, the original unity of the human race was shattered by a plague of tongues designed to alleviate the evil flowing from the sin of human pride; today, those who receive the Spirit receive a contrite and humble heart, an offering that God will not spurn. The gift of tongues symbolizes the remaking of the world in unity with the Person of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. The first reading tells the story of the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost; the Gospel, on the other hand, tells the story of the gift of the Spirit by Jesus to his apostles on Easter Day. One of the questions presented to us is to ask how open we are to the Spirit’s power in us - we have certainly received him in his Church and individually in the Sacrament of Confirmation; why do we or do we not see his gifts manifested in us? The Pentecost event is communicated to us in the Sacrament of Confirmation, in which the spiritual gifts are given to unite spiritual power to sacred truth in the Christian, and so make them a witness and missionary of Jesus Christ in a mature and visible holiness.

2. Exegetical Notes
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A. Acts 2:1-11. The shape of Jewish celebration of the Feast of Weeks (the 50th day after Passover) is unclear at the time of Christ. By the second century, after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, it clearly acquired the nature of a covenant renewal celebration commemorating Moses' reception of the law on Mount Sinai. Philo and other sources mention that theophany

in terms of tongues of flame, fire and roaring wind. In any case, it is clear that the early Christian community clearly based its celebration, not on the shape of Jewish celebration, but on a formative event which occurred in conjunction with the ascension of the Lord. The appearance of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in wind and flame recalls not only the giving of the Law at Sinai, but also other Old Testament theophanies, such as Isaiah 66: 15ff. Jesus’ new law of love is to be inscribed not on tablets of stone, but on the hearts of believers. He who is the perfect image of the holy will of God come in human flesh, now inscribed this image by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who are his disciples.

One of the noteworthy themes is the gift of tongues - the apostles speaking in diverse languages so that all nations of the world may hear, each in their own tongue, the saving truth of Jesus Christ. This recalls the plague of tongues, which originally divided mankind in the days of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). Scholarship is divided as to whether the gift of tongues mentioned in this passage are identical with the glossolalia described by St. Paul (e.g., 1 Cor. 12:10, 14:2) are divided, to represent a different kind of charismatic gift. In any case, the assembly of Jews from all over the world, present in Jerusalem for the holy days. And now receiving the first official preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Holy Church, is presented by Luke as a prophetic symbol of the universality of the mission of the Church to the whole world. B. 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13. Paul emphasizes in the passage read today that no one can be authentically inspired in line by the Holy Spirit, unless they also, in communion with the Church, confess the divinity and sovereignty of Jesus Christ. The many gifts given to the Church by the Holy Spirit have a single source in the Lord Jesus Christ and the will of the Father. Their point is for the building up of the Church, and so all serve the common good. The highest of all gifts is charity, for this serves most powerfully to unite the one body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church. This charity is better than any of the other charismatic gifts, however flashy. It follows that the gift of tongues is not necessarily the mark of the reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit; rather, that is most visible in the supernatural virtue of charity which animates the Church’s members. C. John 20:19-23. In contrast to the resurrection accounts in St. Luke's Gospel, St. John emphasizes the underlying theological unity of Jesus' Passion, Death, Resurrection, Glorification and Exaltation. Thus the work of the Spirit on Pentecost is intimately tied to the work of the day of Easter and Christ's resurrection. John's recounting of the Easter appearance of Jesus to the assembled disciples stands in stark contrast to any contemporary theological theory which posits that the Church’s experience of Easter was the sum of “individual experiences of Christian disciples convinced that Jesus had somehow survived death.” John emphasizes the continued existence of the body, glorified and freed from death, of the historical Jesus. Hence the emphasis on the wounds in “his hands and side.” V. 22. He breathed on them. Jesus' prophetic deed, communicates and signifies the gift of the Spirit (Gk. “Pneuma” = spirit, breath.) In verse 17 of this chapter, Jesus has told Mary Magdalene, that his ascension is imminent, v.20 suggests of this ascension has become a reality, since Christ's ascension is tied to the gift of the Spirit (it is better for you that I should go). The JBC suggests that John's recounting is not inconsistent with the portrayal of these realities and Luke, since “the New Testament authors are in every case concerned with

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historic mysteries primarily, and with chronologies and statistical circumstances secondarily.” (JBC 63:177). John's purpose is to connect directly in the power of the resurrection and ascension of Christ to the animation of the Church in the present our by the Holy Spirit, which is Jesus' gift to her.

V. 23. The gift of the Spirit in this verse is directly connected to the Church’s understanding of her power to forgive sins, and the judicial character of Christ at work in the Church after the Resurrection. This verse can be seen rightly as the origin of the Sacrament of Penance, as well as explaining the Catholic Church's authority over saving baptism and the power of the Gospel preached to the nations for their conversion.

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

CCC 249: From the beginning, the revealed truth of the Holy Trinity has been at the very root of the Church’s living faith, principally by means of Baptism. … Such (baptismal) formulations are already found in the apostolic writings, such as the salutation taken up in the Eucharistic liturgy: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." CCC 696: Fire. While one or signifies berth in the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions…. Jesus will say of the Spirit: "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!" In the form of tongues "as a fire," the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself. The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit's actions. "Do not quench the Spirit." CCC 799: whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the holy spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of man, and to the needs of the world. CCC 801: No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. “Their office is not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good," so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together "for the common good." CCC: 1288: “From that time on (Pentecost), the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ's will, in part to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of baptism. For this reason, in the Letter to the Hebrews the doctrine concerning baptism and the laying on of hands is listed among the first dominance of Christian instruction. The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the Sacrament of confirmation, which is certainly perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church."

4. Patristic Commentary

John Chrysostom (Hom. 86,2): Having given them confidence by his own miracles, and appealing to him to send him, he uses a prayer to the Father, but of his own authority gives them power: and when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit.

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St. Augustine of Hippo (Tract. 121): The nails had pierced his hands, the lance had pierced his side. For the healing of doubting hearts, the marks of the wounds were still preserved. St. Augustine of Hippo (IV. De Trinitate 20.): That corporeal breath was not the substance of the Holy Spirit, but to show, by fitting symbol, but the Holy Spirit proceeded not only from the Father, but the Son. For who would be so mad is to say, that it was one Spirit which he gave by breathing, and another which he sent after his ascension? John Chrysostom (Hom. 86,4): Some say that in breathing he did not give him the Spirit, but made then fit to receive the Spirit. For if Daniel’s senses were so overpowered by the sight of the angel, how would they have been overwhelmed in receiving that unutterable gift, if he had not first prepared them for it! It would not be wrong however to say that they received then the gift of a certain spiritual power, not to raise the dead and do miracles, but to remit sins: Whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted them, and whosoever sins you retain they are retained. Gregory the Great (Hom. 26): But why is he first given to the disciples on earth, and afterwards sent from heaven? Because there are two commandments of love, to love God, and to love our neighbor. The Spirit to love our neighbor is given on earth, the Spirit to love God is given from heaven. As then love is one, and there are two commandments; so the Spirit is one, and there are two gifts of the Spirit. And the first is given by our Lord while yet upon earth, the second from heaven, because by the love of our neighbor we learn how to arrive at the love of God. John Chrysostom (Hom. 86,4): the priest though he may have ordered well his own life, yet, if he had not exercised proper to Bill Jones over others, is sent to hell with the evildoers. Wherefore, knowing the greatness of their danger, pay them all respect, even though they've been not men of notable goodness. They who are in rule, should not be judged by those who are under them. And their incorrectness of life will not at all and validate what they do by commission from God. But not only cannot a priest, but not even Angel or Archangel, do anything of themselves; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit do all. The priest only furnishes the tongue, and the hand. Gregory the Great (Hom. 26): We must understand that those who first received the Holy Spirit for innocence of life in themselves, and preaching to a few others, received it openly after the resurrection, that they might profit not a few only, but many. The disciples who were called to such works of humility, to what a height of glory they are led! Lo, not only have they salvation for themselves, but are admitted to the powers of the supreme judgment seat; so that, in place of God, they can retain some men's sins, and remit others. Their place in the church the bishops now hold; who receive the authority to bind, when they are admitted to the rank of government. Great the honor, but heavy the burden of the place. It is ill if one who knows not how to govern his own life shall be judge of another's.

5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars

Afire with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, St. Peter boldly told his the Jews gathered from all over the world in Jerusalem what Christ had done for us, then he invited them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

St. Irenaeus of Lyons ( Dem ap.7: SCh 62,41-42) “Baptism gives us the grace of new birth in God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit. For those who bear God's Spirit are led to the Word, that is, to the Son, and the Son presents them to the Father, and the Father confers incorruptibility on them. And it is impossible to see God's Son without the Spirit, and no one can approach the Father without the Son, for the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of God's Son is obtained through the Holy Spirit.”


Benedict XVI (): The ultimate thirst of man cries out for the Holy Spirit. He, and he alone, is, at a profound level, the fresh water without which there is no life. In the image of a spring, of the water that irrigates and transforms a desert, that man meets like a secret promise, the mystery of the Spirit becomes visible in an ineffable fashion that no rational meditation can and can encompass. Benedict XVI (): What is the real Christian message of Pentecost? What is this "Holy Spirit" of which it speaks? … world history as a struggle between two kinds of love: self-love to the point of hatred for God, and love of God to the point of self renunciation. This second love brings the redemption of the world and the self. In my opinion it would already be a giant step forward if during the days of Pentecost we were to turn to a reflection on our responsibility; if these days were to become the occasion for moving beyond purely rational thinking, beyond the kind of knowledge that is used in planning and can be stored up, and to a discovery of "Spirit", of the responsibility truth brings, and of the values of conscience and love . Benedict XVI (): The Church, a community gathered by the Son of God who came the flesh, will live on through the passing times, building up and nourishing the communion in Christ and in the Holy Spirit to which all are called and in which they can experience the salvation given by the Father. This life of fellowship with God and with one another is the proper goal of Gospel proclamation, the goal of conversion to Christianity … "communion" is truly the Good News, the remedy given to us by the Lord to fight the loneliness that threatens everyone today, the precious gift that makes us feel welcomed and beloved by God, in the unity of his People dead in the name of the Trinity. Thus, the Church, despite all the human frailties that mark her historical profile, is revealed as a marvelous creation of love, brought into being to bring Christ close to every man and every woman who truly desire to meet him, until the end of time.

7. Other Considerations “O heavenly King, Consoler [Paraclete], Spirit of truth, present in all places and filling all things, the Treasury of blessings and the Giver of life: come, O Good One, and dwell in us, cleanse us from all stain and save our souls.” - Prayer to the Holy Spirit (Byzantine rite, recited before almost all church services and liturgies). “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love. V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be re-created. R. And you shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray. Oh God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the

faithful, grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise, and ever rejoice in his salvation, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Latin rite.) The old English term “Whitsunday” is the name for Pentecost Sunday, and signifies the wisdom (Old English whit = “wise”), which comes to believers through the Holy Spirit, a wisdom which graciously reshapes their deeds as well as it illuminates their minds. The Catholic Church today, as on the day of Pentecost, is an assembly in which the power and mighty deeds of God are still evident because of the Holy Spirit of God which is on her, in spite of the sins and failings of some of her members. One can think of the documented healings that go on within her, notably and demonstrably at such places as Lourdes, the daily conversion of hearts, resulting in converts to the Catholic Church, the witness of martyrs and saints in every century, the movements of devotion and spiritual gifts in the charismatic movement, as well as the sacramental life of the Church, her enduring existence and infallibility in teaching faith and morals throughout the ages, and the continual presence in her of those who pray in profound union with the heart of Christ.

Recommended Resources Benedict XVI, Pope. Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI. Yonkers, Ignatius Press/ Magnificat 2006. New York: Magnificat: SAS, 2006. Copyright

Brown, Raymond E., S.S., Fitzmeyer, Joseph, S.J., and Murphy, Roland E., O. Carm. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Two Vols. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected out of the Works of the Fathers. Volume III- Pt. II: St. Luke. Albany, N.Y.: Preserving Christian Publications, Inc., 2001. Tugwell, Simon, OP., ed. Early Dominicans; Selected Writings. Spirituality. New York; Ramsey; Toronto : Paulist Press, 1982. Classics of Western