Sunday Scripture Readings

pentecost, may 19

Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104;

1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23 OUR GOOD NEWS: Free at last! For Luke, the Holy Spirit's coming into the life of Jesus' first followers (Pen-tecost) ranks with the Son's coming into human history (Christmas). Indeed, only through the Spirit's continuing presence and power in the Church can we understand the meaning of Jesus' birth, public ministry and death. Luke didn't intend his account of the first Pentecost to be an objective description. He preferred tableau-like interpretation, carefully staged and artistically arranged scenes revealing implications of the event for the Church in subsequent ages. According to the first reading, without Jesus' presence the disciples were, literally and symbolically, "locked up." Into this situation the Lord "comes." His word, repeated for emphasis, is "peace." More than cessation of strife or inner calmness of spirit, his gift of peace announces success following struggle, victory snatched from defeat. Proclamation is accompanied by gesture offered in proof. The Lord's body, formerly mangled by vicious enemies, is now risen into glory. Truly occasion for us to rejoice! After bringing reassurance and reconciliation, Jesus confers the Spirit, the vehicle of his abiding presence in the Church, rather than a poor substitute during his absence. Instead of religious experience to be savored privately, this gift unlocked doors and sent newly emboldened disciples out as agents of reconciliation rather than condemnation. "Forgiveness of sins" means more than release from guilt. The Church brings liberation from all evils that burden and enslave men and women, young and old, in every time and place and culture. Humanity's deepest desire is to live fully and happily in intimacy with God and our fellow creatures. Now we no longer remain frustrated, without hope. Jesus' messengers offer the way out, but those rejecting his unique opportunity thereby allow themselves to be definitively "bound" under evil's power. Today's feast marks the world's hope. We Christians - everyone of us - are empowered and obliged to proclaim good news of the Spirit's power to free humankind from everything that degrades and enslaves. The Church's constant mission is to save the world, not condemn it! The story of the first Pentecost is followed in Acts by other "comings of the Holy Spirit" - upon pagans before being baptized by Peter, after Paul's baptism of Ephesian converts. Indeed, the Church's story includes a series of Pentecosts, with people in every time and place similarly empowered to preach by word and example Good News about Jesus.

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