By David Marion Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23 LAST WEEK WE READ about the way in which Peter decided how to replace the missing apostle. The gap in the twelve, left by the suicide of Judas, was filled after prayer and a ballot.
Now the time for commissioning and action has come. According to Luke's Gospel our Lord had told his disciples to "stay here in the city until you are armed with the power from above".
Now at Pentecost that power, in the form of the Holy Spirit, had arrived.
Why at Pentecost? Once a harvest festival, the Jewish "Feast of Weeks" had become the feast of the giving of the Law. On that day, seven weeks (or 50 days, hence Pentecost) after Passover, the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai was commemorated.
The new Pentecost came fifty days after the new Passover, of Easter. It brought with it the new law promised by Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It was Ezekiel who had, long before, spoken the words of God: "I shall give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you".
One sign of that new spirit was to be unity. The account of the building of the tower of Babel is to be found right back in the book of Genesis. It is a story of disunity. The people then were so confident in themselves that they wanted to build a tower which would reach heaven. So, they proudly thought, they would make a name for themselves.
God punished their pride with a confusion of languages. Babel meant disunity. The new Pentecost meant unity restored. All those who had come from many parts of the Middle East to worship and to celebrate the festival could suddenly understand each other.
New life was being created. Just as God breathed on dust, in the second story of the creation of mankind, so Jesus breathes on his disciples and gives them the life of the Holy Spirit.
Their mission was beginning. They were to be people of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Their new courage is very clear in the next chapters of the Acts.
Though St Paul was a latecomer to the mission of Pentecost, he quickly learnt about the effects of the Spirit in the new community. It was to be one body. In that body every member had a vital part to play. Baptism was the uniting bond which made all other differences pale into insignificance.
Far more important than nationality or social status is our unity in the body of Christ.
An international community of peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness came to birth at Pentecost. It has still to become what it could be in our world today.
The Week Ahead 7th Week of the Year Divine Office Week 3 Monday 19th: Ecclus 1:1-10; Mk 9:14-29 Tuesday 20th: Ecclus 2:1-11; Mk 9:30-37 Wednesday 21st:Ecclus 4:11-19; Mk 9:38-40 Thursday 22nd: Ecclus 5:1-8; Mk 9:41-50
Friday 23rd: Ecclus 6:5-17; Mk 10:1-12 Saturday 24th: Ecclus 17:1-15; Mk 10:13-16 Sunday 25th: The Most Holy Trinity Deut 4:32-34,39-40; Rom 8:14-17; Mt 28:16-20
Divine Office, proper of the day