Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pentecost Sunday

Dear All,

Pentecost Sunday is the “birthday” of the Christian Church.  Pentecost is a Greek name meaning fiftieth day… after Passover.  On the Jewish Feast of Weeks, “devout Jews from every nation under heaven (1)” gathered in Jerusalem at the end the season of harvest which began with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The Diaspora or dispersion of the Jewish people resulting from the exile once considered a severe sentence, can now be seen as a great boon to the missionary venture of the early church.  With one sermon, people from every corner of the world have now heard the good news of the gospel.  In another situation, some of these people could have been enemies.  Now, they are sisters and brothers in faith, members of the same body of Christ.  The distinctions “Jew or Greek, slave or free person”, woman or man, rich or poor, educated or illiterate are no longer divisions; they are simply identifications of unique perspectives of life.  The Spirit of God seizes all who have opened themselves to the miracle of transformation.  And on that day in that room there was indeed a miracle of communication.  While the Galilean disciples spoke in their mother tongue all this visitors from around the world heard them speak in their own tongue.  These previously terrified people were now all somehow filled with the dynamic power of God, that refreshes and recreates.

The First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles is read every year to mark the beginning of the Church founded by Christ.  While He was alive, the disciples did not understand Him, to the point that Peter denied him three times in Garden, narrated in Palm Sunday’s Gospel.  When Jesus comingled with them after the Resurrection they continued to be taught, but did not get it either.  After Jesus’ Ascension, celebrated last Sunday, they were utterly scared and

completely lost.  But, like Jesus told them (in today’s Gospel) “when the Advocate comes” “the Spirit of truth will testify” to Him and so will the disciples.  Clearly the Spirit of God was present, first emboldening the once frightened disciples and then opening the ears of the crowd to the marvels of the gospel message.  Through the miraculous act they suddenly understood all He had been teaching for years (they got it) and felt secure and assertive to communicate the Good News of Salvation.  The Church –Community- that Jesus had commissioned Simon (calling him Peter, the rock upon…) to build was in the making and two thousand years later is still celebrating the same mysteries and teaching all of us the History of Salvation.

This same Spirit was given to us when we were baptized and confirmed. If we received the same Spirit, as did the disciples on that first Pentecost, why can't we do the same marvelous deeds? But we can! Paul assures us, as he did the Corinthians in our Second Reading, that "to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit." And to what benefit is the Spirit given? For the benefit of the community at large, not merely the individual possessing the special gift.  Just as it did at the time of Pentecost, the Spirit of God transforms minds and hearts that are open to its healing power.  Not everyone in the community will be able to perform the same service, but we have different gifts.  We are one body in Christ, however, and together we will be able to accomplish much.

The complete text of the readings can be found at

With God’s Love and Blessings,





(1) Acts of the Apostles enumerates the following locations, people were from [see the map]:

Parthians:  people from a region of north-eastern Iran

Medes: ancient Iranian people and Iranian sister nation of the Persians, who lived in the northwestern portions of present-day Iran.

Elamites: people from Elam, an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran

Mesopotamia: northern Irak

Judea: mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel, an area now divided between Israel and the West Bank

Capadoccia:  extensive inland district of Asia Minor (modern Turkey)

Pontus: historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey

Asia: a region of Western Asia, comprising most of the modern Republic of Turkey

Phrygia: a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the Southern Balkans

Pamphylia:  region in the south of Asia Minor, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus (modern day Antalya province, Turkey)

Egypt:  north east Africa

Libya:  north Africa, west of Egypt

Cyrene:  ancient Greek colony in present-day Libya

Rome:  central west on Italian Peninsula

Cretans:  form Crete, the largest of the Greek islands and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, was the center of the Minoan civilization (ca. 2600–1400 BC), the oldest Greek civilization

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