Thursday, May 16, 2013

"As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

This Sunday, May 19, 2013, our Readings celebrate Pentecost Sunday - the culmination of the fifty days of Easter, the day when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

A Contradiction in Sunday's Gospel?

There seems to be a contradiction between the coming of the Spirit as recorded in this gospel and in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. In the gospel of John, the Spirit is given by Jesus himself on Easter day, whereas in Acts the Spirit comes upon the disciples at the Jewish feast of Pentecost which occurred fifty days after Passover.

Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells out that the essentials of the two accounts are the same, but the emphases different. Luke and John provide us with distinct but equally rich theological perspectives on the birth of the Church. They point up the significance for the world of the birth of the Church and the task given to us to enable all mankind to experience the Good News of salvation. What matters most, says Fr. Demetrius Dumm, is to understand the implications of this out-pouring of God's Spirit. This is clearly presented in Sunday's gospel where the new presence of Jesus in the Spirit is expressed in terms of peace, mission and forgiveness.

The Birth of the Church

Do you know what the largest Pentecostal Church in the world is? If you are Catholic, you belong to it. Pentecost is sometimes called the "birthday of the Church." On that first Pentecost, the party was smaller, only 120, but the attendees themselves became the birthday candles when the Spirit crowned each of them with fiery tongues.

The meeting with the risen Lord in John's account is the humble yet powerful beginning of a new age. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains how fear was transformed into joy; pain was changed to peace and trust; flight and hiding become courage and mission. Division and hatred are vanquished by the gift of the Holy Spirit. For Christians, the 2000th year after Christ's birth marks the renewal of life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and renewed commitment to the true faith bestowed in Jesus Christ. Father Cusick tells us that both are gifts of God the Father to the Church in these "last days" before Christ comes again.

"As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

The mission and the power of Jesus are entrusted into the poor, limited and fragile hands of his apostles. And just like the apostles, we also are sent by the Lord to go outside, out to the people made in the image and likeness of God. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we are called to be who we are - committed Christians, dedicated Catholics - and then to simply let His Spirit, the Holy Spirit of the Father and Son, work the wonders of God in the hearts of His people.

And you and I wonder, rightly so, how it is that we can lead others to Christ. How can we train our children, our Teens, our grandchildren, our neighbors and co-workers to treasure the Lord? What should we say? Fr. Phil Bloom says this Sunday God wants you and me to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit. How our world would change if we allowed Jesus to enter our hearts! The Holy Spirit can energize us, give us a new life.

The Holy Spirit in the Upper Room

What should we be doing in the face of declining church attendance, the emptying and greying of our seminaries and convents, the growing agnosticism of our world, and the ecclesial indifference of so many of our own children? Fr. Ron Rolheiser offers our biblical answer: Return to the city and remain in the upper room! If we stay united to God, God will work His wonders through us.

We are called and empowered to be signs of the presence of God. Fr. Orly Sapuay, M.S. says answering that call can be as simple as looking in the eyes of the man who is asking for money on the street and taking the time to learn his name. When we think we don’t have the energy to listen to someone else’s problems, we might find out that it only takes just a few minutes to let someone know that he or she matters.

This is the Holy Spirit’s holiday. Fr. John Foley, S. J. tells us to call out to God and tell him where your heart is. Maybe God will give you a sense of who the Holy Spirit is in your personal daily life, in your progress from day to day. Do remember, as somebody has put it, we do not need more of the Holy Spirit. Rather, Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us, the Holy Spirit needs more of us.

So do stand out like a sore thumb this Pentecost season. Pope Benedict shares this very same message from Rome with the world's youth. Noting the Novena of Pentecost that began last Friday, he encouraged young people to be docile to the Holy Spirit's work. And as one who is a graduating senior, college student Sarah Waninger talks about how this message of peace and accompaniment means so much more now than ever before in her life.

Pentecost & the Charisms of the Holy Spirit

Alfred McBride, O.Praem. offers a literary interpretation of the the Story of the First Pentecost. He presents it from the point of view of a Greek traveler who stood bewildered in the Jerusalem crowd. What was happening? All about him Jews from many nations milled excitedly and pointed to a group in the center of the square - the apostles preaaching about jesus and speaking in tongues.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio offers a timely reflection on the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost and the person, gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit. He also offers a second reflection on the "The Charisms Of The Holy Spirit For Service." While this second article is helpful for all Christians at all stages of development, it is especially valuable for those preparing for or teaching about the sacrament of confirmation.

And from a parish in Palmyra, MO - Saint Joseph's Catholic Church - we share with you a simple, powerfully effective method for families and parishes to recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit within their children. "Making Pentecost Come Alive for Kids and Parents" is worth a look.

Quotes from the Saints & More

Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England, and one of the great minds of the 19th century. As a Roman Catholic priest he became one of the greatest Catholic apologists in the history of the Church. Cardinal Newman will be beatified by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on September 19, 2010. We bring you "41 Famous Quotes from Cardinal Newman."

Plus here's a list of the top 50 Saints' quotes, in an arbitrary ranking. St. Jerome starts things off with "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." There are many others that not on the list that are great. So feel free to add your other favorites in the comments section.

And here's another list to ponder. Traditionally, there are 4 "Marks" of the Church that tell us about the character and nature of what the Church is - One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic. Yet, there are more "marks" that St. Robert Bellarmine came up with. He lived from 1542 - 1621 during the time of many of the Protestant Reformers. Thus, he was battling against some of the false understandings of the Church by coming up with these additional " 15 marks".

Stories of Hope

Allison, a blogger from "Why I am Catholic," writes about this boy, let's call him Michael, who lives with his mother and brother in a small apartment in their neighborhood. When she picks up her son from school. he usually gives him a lift home, too. Recently, she had a conversation with a schoolmate of the fifth grader, a conversation that reminded her how blessed we are that God is always with us.

And Heidi Bratton talks about this thing she calls the “Economy of Prayer Heresy.” In a nutshell, it proposes that we really shouldn’t “bother” God by praying about the small details of our everyday lives. We should, instead, wait until we have a need that is big enough or special enough for God to get involved. Here’s the problem. Where does that leave us and our relationship with God in the meantime? Pretty powerful stuff.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief 

BURNING QUESTION: Can non-Catholic people go to heaven?
FEATURED BLOG: Because we might be entertaining angels
PASTORAL HISPANA: La fiesta del Espiritu Santo

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