Pentecost Sunday – Cycle C

1st Reading – Acts: 2:1-11

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13

Gospel - John 20: 19-23

The following commentary is from the readings for Pentecost Sunday – Mass During the Day.  The readings are different for the Vigil and Extended Vigil.

Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church.  It is the feast of the universal church which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ.  Pentecost is also known as Whitsunday (for the white garments which were worn by the baptized during the Easter Vigil).

Try to put yourself in this situation with the disciples in the upper room.  Your life has been quite chaotic for the past few weeks.  You’ve been hanging out with this charismatic man, following Him all over the area as He preaches, teaches and heals.  Your time with Him seems surreal.  It seems there are so many more questions than answers.  You’ve seen some miracles along the way, but you're still not really comfortable with this situation.  But something keeps you there in His midst.  Suddenly, He’s been arrested, and you begin to watch out for yourself.  You go into hiding and choose to try and disassociate yourself from Him. You are too afraid to watch as He is severely beaten and then left to die on a cross.  Then the miracle of miracles; Jesus does just as He said He would.  He comes back from the dead, and your faith gets a jump start again.  But then He’s gone again, and this time you really aren’t sure when (or if) He’s coming back again.  You’re stuck in Jerusalem during one of the most significant community feasts.  There are Jews there from all over the region.  (Much like being afraid of Catholics and being stuck in St. Peter’s Square during the Pope’s funeral.)  I guess it would be safe to say that we’d be afraid too.

It’s not that difficult to understand why they were hiding.  Neither the first reading from Acts nor the Gospel says that this happened only to the twelve apostles.  We’ve come to understand through our tradition and correlation with other writings about specifically who was in that room . But John calls them merely, disciples.  Disciples, just like you and me.  It seems as though John is implying that this commissioning is being applied to the whole believing community, not just a group of chosen individuals.  As we celebrate the Holy Spirit coming to live within His Church, this means He lives in you and me and in all believers of Jesus Christ.  One body in Christ.

In our first reading, the coming of the Holy Spirit came with a loud noise that filled the entire house.  Tongues of fire danced over them and rested over each one of them.  I picture this scene like one of those enormous water tanker air crafts that dumps thousands of gallons of water on a forest fire.  But in John’s gospel, the Holy Spirit came quietly.  Just appearing and offering peace; very calmly and very quietly.  But the message was the same.  There are lots of symbols for the Holy Spirit ranging from loud thunderous wind to a peaceful dove.  We’ve all experienced His influence within this range. You have this gift, now you must do something with it.  The Spirit affects us, the Spirit works through us.  The Spirit lives.

 I’m sure they wondered still, just as we do today; “What difference will I make?”  A squirrel once asked a wise owl how much a single snowflake weighed.  "Why, nothing more than nothing," the owl answered.  The squirrel then went on to tell the owl about a time when he was resting on a branch of a maple tree, counting each snowflake that came to rest on the branch until he reached the number 1,973,864.  Then with the settling of the very next flake -- crack!  "That was surely a whole lot of nothing," said the squirrel.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is the difference in the way God uses power (the Spirit of God,) with the way human beings use power?

  2. What links forgiveness of sins with the presence of the Spirit?........or refusal to forgive with the Spirit?

  3. What does it mean to you to say "Jesus is Lord"?

  4. Why is the Holy Spirit needed to make this proclamation?

Click here to view original handout from the RCIA Catechumenate session.