Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Ho 2:16-17,21-222; Cor 3:1-6; Mk 2:18-22

“Why the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (v.18b).

One time, two bird hunters were hunting birds in the forest in order to make business out of their hunted birds. They sold the birds. But since the birds were skinny, they fed them first and let them grew bigger and bigger until the time that they sold them at reasonable prices. But one bird refused to eat. As the other birds got fat, this bird got thinner and thinner, and it still struggled to get out from the cage.

On the day the hunters took the birds to the market, the bird who refused to eat had become so thin that by a mighty struggle, it managed to squeeze through the cage and flew away. It alone was free while the others who ate with too much gusto were sold and eaten by people.

This story has something to do or has similarity with fasting by which we deprive or deny ourselves of the food that we want to eat and even of sexual relations among married couples for one or more days, from one sunset to the next for a particular purpose.

Fasting is the topic that few Catholics nowadays know much about. It is the topic that we don’t want to talk about may be because we don’t want to do it. Today, even Christians of other religions find it difficult to appreciate its value. We have so many reasons not to do this fasting. And yet we do it only twice a year, that is during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday with one full meal and slight merienda (snacks). As to the age, it is between sixteen and sixty years old.

Fasting is a form of self-denial or a form of sacrifice. It is a denial of the self for food and drink or other pleasure of the flesh. There are several reasons why we should fast. Some of them could be: first, Christ our founder fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert after His baptism and before He went for His missionary work. Second, we deny ourselves of the things we want for the sake of discipline, to be certain that we are the master of them and not they of us, to make sure that we never grow to love them so well that we cannot give them up. We might deny ourselves comforts and pleasant things so that after self-denial we might appreciate them all the more.

One of the best ways to learn to value our homes is to have to stay away from home for a time being; and one of the best ways to appreciate God’s gifts is to do without them for a period of time. We are doing fasting in order for us not to be spoiled persons. Look at a spoiled brat, you cannot control him, you cannot discipline him. He gets what he wants. Actually, the saints are those people who follow the law of the church strictly, religiously and faithfully.

Fasting is not to be confused with dieting. We diet to please our doctor or to preserve our figure so that we can wear the clothes we like most. We fast religiously because we want to serve God better by sharing the better things we want with other people.

Hw does fasting help us serve God? There are lots of ways, and some of them could be: first, eating whenever and whatever we please makes us flabby not spiritually but physically. Our body is so healthy but our soul and spirit are undernourished and very thin. We eat immediately without even making the sign of the cross. So do something to make our soul healthy and fasting is one way to make it. Second, cutting down on food is a way of proving, at least to ourselves, that we take our religion seriously, that we put God first. Just like when we pray. When we talk to God regularly through prayer, we take God seriously and religiously. Lastly, by fasting we surrender a finite pleasure we like for the sake of the infinite God we love. God is above all things and above all people. He is above our parents, wealth, friends, loved ones and others. When God calls us to be like doing fasting, we don’t have the reason not to give our wholehearted yes! to Him. Yes to God and everything will be fine.

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Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Deut 5:12-15; 2Cor 4:6-11; Mk 2:23-3:6

There was a young priest who asked an elder priest this question: “Father, what is the difference between a sinner and a saint?” The old priest answered: “The sinner is one who prays, ‘Lord, I am not a sinner. I am already saint. I don’t have big sins, so why I have to go to Mass on Sunday and pray?’ The saint is one who prays: “Lord, I am a great sinner, but I want to be saint. So, I have to go to Mass on Sunday and pray.’”

In the Jewish religion, Sabbath is an important weekly observance to mark the close of the seven-day week, a day when all Jews would abstain from any kind of work. Sabbath observance has a humanitarian reason because slaves at that time were guaranteed a rest from their labors. It has a religious reason in observing it because it became a holy time, a holy day by which people imitated the sacred rest of God on the seventh day after creation. Observance of the Sabbath made the Jews distinct from foreigners. They made the day holy by gathering in holy assembly in the temple or in the synagogue in order to offer sacrifice or interpret the Holy Scripture.

So Sabbath is a positive one. It was released to benefit the people rather than to trap if they made the wrong move. But Pharisees put so many rigid prohibitions by which people could not bear them anymore. And there were 39 prohibitions, among them were reaping, threshing and preparing food; also visiting the sick, clapping of hands, healing unless it was to save life were also included in the list of prohibitions. The first three prohibitions, the disciples of Jesus violated them and Jesus violated the fourth one. But Jesus refuted them by saying that, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” The implication is: observance of Sabbath is irrelevant when it is not coupled with love and action for God and neighbor which sums up the moral life of a believer like us.

For us Christians especially Catholics, our Sabbath is Sunday, the day of the Lord. Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. May be it is good to talk about Sunday. The reason behind why we chose Sunday as our Christian Sabbath or day of rest.

Sunday in our Christian faith has so many names. For example, it is called the Lord’s Day. This name is found in the Bible and also in Christian tradition. It indicates that Sunday has a special relationship to the Lord, the glorified Christ. This is His day on which the community gathers for the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist or His Body and Blood and the Lord becomes present in midst of his faithful in a sacramental way. It’s a day of celebrating the sacraments especially the Eucharist and Baptism.

It is called also as Sun-day. The Old Romans had dedicated this day to the divinity of the sun which was one of the main gods of the Roman Empire and very much venerated.

The sun is truly a fitting symbol of what Christ is for the life of each one of us and the world. It gives not only light and expels darkness but it is also through the sun that life and growth become possible. The sun also gives warm and takes away the cold; it is full of energy and power. That is why for some the darkening of the sun is one of the phenomena indicating the coming judgment (Mtt 24:29).

Sunday is also called a Day of Rest. This is not a name for Sunday in the strict sense of the word but a distinctive aspect of it. It is important to stress that the day of rest does not abstain from work only, but also we want to consider and ponder the great work God did for us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not working is also a symbol in the sense that all our activities could never bring salvation. Salvation is a gift from God

To summarize it Sunday is: the day which belongs to the risen Lord; the day on which the community of the Christian celebrated and still celebrates the sacraments; the day of salvation assuring Christians of their final election (quasi-sacrament). It is the day on which the final time has begun and the covenant with the church and many more.

So let us use Sunday as a day for doing these things that I mentioned a while ago. Let us reserve this for God alone, for prayer and worship to Him.

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Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Gen 3:9-15; Psalm 130; 2Cor 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35

Blasphemy of the Scribes

I read an inspiring story narrated by Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She found a little girl in the street. She took her in their children’s home. There was always good food, nice clothes, and comfortable room for her. After a few hours, the girl ran away. Saint Mother Teresa looked for her. But she could not find her. After some days, the saint found her again in the street and brought her again in the children’s home. Saint Mother Teresa asked her sisters to follow the little girl wherever she went. The little girl ran away again. But the sisters followed her and learned where she was going and why she kept running away.

The sisters discovered that the little girl’s mother was living under a tree on a city street. There were three stones and the mother did her cooking there. Mother Teresa went and witnessed the joy of the little girl with her mother. She asked the little girl, “Why did you not want to stay with us? You had so many beautiful things at the children’s home.” The little girl politely replied, “I could not live without my mother. She loves me.”

For me the sisters were guilty of rash judgment or calumny because, in the first place, they thought that this little girl was a bad one but at the end only to find out, she was not.

The scribes, who had come from Jerusalem, were guilty of a sin called “calumny,” or slander because they uttered blasphemous words against Jesus. They said: “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons,” (v. 22).

Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2477 teaches us to respect for the reputation of other persons and this respect forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. The Catechism states a person becomes guilty of calumny, who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

The Catechism also speaks of a lesser sin called “rash judgment” and a person becomes guilty of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor. It appears quite clear that the scribes were gravely guilty of these two sins.

We too are guilty of these two great sins of calumny and rash judgment. Like for example, we say to a dirty person: “You look like B’laan (indigenous people of Minday!” So what a B’laan look-like? When we encounter a person with a long hair, we immediately said: “You look like a rebel.” So we are guilty of these sins too.

What’s important to note in these blasphemous words spoken against Jesus is that if they did not commit these sins of calumny and rash judgment, they would not utter these blasphemous words. But they had committed and these sins can be very damaging.

If we were the object of such harshness from another, it would most likely make us be overwhelmed with shock, hurt, anger and confusion.  It’s very difficult to remain indifferent to such an attack.

But what did Jesus do?  He addressed their condemnation and then pointed out that what they spoke was a “sin against the Holy Spirit.”  This form of sin cannot be forgiven. According to Eric Stoutz (catholicexchange.com) that looking at the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sin against the Holy Spirit is the “deliberate refusal” to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness (no. 1864) and therefore cannot be forgiven. Six species of this sin have been identified over time as sins against the Holy Spirit such as: (1) Despair; (2) Presumption; (3) Impenitence or a firm determination not to repent; (4) Obstinacy; (5) Resisting divine truth known to be such; and (6) Envy of another’s spiritual welfare.

Stoutz continued that the one who despairs “ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God” (no. 2091). Despair is directly contrary to the theological virtue of hope, which is, in part, a reliance on the grace of the Holy Spirit (Catechism, no. 1817).

Presumption is a sin against the Holy Spirit inasmuch as one presumes he can save himself apart from the grace of the Holy Spirit or that God will save him without conversion (cf. Catechism, no. 2092).

Impenitence clearly resists the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us to conversion and repentance (cf. Catechism, nos. 1430-33).

Obstinacy is akin to impenitence, because one not only resists the grace of the Holy Spirit, but willfully persists in what he knows to be grave sin. Sometimes we say: “Why should I go to confession, I don’t any sin.” It is unforgivable if we refuse to repent and are not open to change.  This is frightening and results in eternal damnation.

Resisting divine truth is to resist that which one knows to have been revealed by the Holy Spirit as necessary to “divine and catholic faith.” One is guilty of heresy, thereby cutting themselves off from God (cf. Catechism, no. 2089).

And finally, envy is a sin against the Holy Spirit because it was through Satan’s envy that death entered the world (cf. Catechism, no. 2538; Wis. 2:24). When one is envious of the spiritual good of another, he places himself on the level of Satan who wanted God’s glory for Himself rather than humbly accepting the gifts God had given him (Ezek. 28:11-19). One must accept the blessings God has given him rather than look at how God has blessed another and desire that for himself. Envy of another’s spiritual good is a sin against the Holy Spirit inasmuch as it is the Holy Spirit who pours out spiritual gifts to the faithful.

But how can we reconcile these words of Jesus: “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of everlasting sin,” (v. 30) with our reliance on the Father’s infinite love and mercy for our salvation, such that, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

The short answer is from definition. The following is from a commentary by Saint John Paul II on the Scriptural prohibition of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. Saint John Paul II said: “According to such an exegesis, ‘blasphemy’ does not properly consist in offending against the Holy Spirit in words; it consists rather in the refusal to accept the salvation which God offers to man through the Holy Spirit, working through the power of the Cross” (Dominum et Vivificantem, Encyclical Letter on the Holy Spirit, no. 46). Thus, while it is usually defined as speaking against God (see Catechism, no. 2148), in this case blasphemy is “the refusal to accept salvation.”

So we should never become so entrenched in our sin and, especially, in our own self-righteousness that we are not willing to listen, reason, and humbly change when we realize we were wrong.  The scribes were not open to change and this is the worst part of their sin.

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Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7,12-13/Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23 (15:26-27,16;12-15)

Jesus Breathes the Holy Spirit

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

01 Homily for Pentecost Sunday

By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

Come Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-11

Romans 8:8-17

John 14:15-16,23-26

One bright Sunday morning like today, Benson’s mother hurries into her son’s bedroom and wakes him up. “Benson, it’s Sunday. Time to get up! Time to get up and go to church! Get up!” Benson mumbles from under the covers, “I don’t want to go.” “What do you mean you don’t want to go?” says the mother. “That’s silly. Now get up and get dressed and go to church!” Benson goes, “No, I don’t want to go and I’ll give you two reasons why I don’t want to go.” He sits up on the bed and continues, “First, I don’t like them and second, they don’t like me.” His mother replies, “Now, that’s just plain nonsense. You’ve got to go to church and I’ll give you two reasons why you must. First, you’re now forty years old and, second, you’re the pastor!”

This sleepy Benson could as well be any of the apostles whom Jesus had commissioned to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. But as soon as Jesus leaves them, what do they do? They retire to their upper rooms and hide themselves. They were afraid of the Jews. Like Benson they knew that the people did not like them, they knew that their message was different from the popular message of the time, and they just felt like wrapping themselves up in bed and not having to get up and face the hostile society. We too are often like that, going to church quietly, receiving Jesus in our hearts quietly, and going home again quietly to say our morning and evening prayers quietly. But what about the charge that Jesus left for you and me to be his witnesses and to share the Good News of God’s love with all humankind? No. People do not like to be reminded of God. I am afraid they are going to tell me off if I speak to them about God. I am afraid they will not listen to me. I am afraid they will call me a freak out of touch with reality. They don’t like us and we don’t like them. And so, like Benson, we give up on our God-given duty and go on enjoying our comfortable silence, our comfortable sleep.

Fortunately, Pastor Benson has a guide, his mother, who wakes him and persuades him to go out and preach. This is the kind of work that the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of believers. When fear of trouble tends to freeze our faith into silent submission to despair, the Holy Spirit warms us up and empowers us to go out there and make a difference. The Holy Spirit reminds us, as Benson’s mother reminded him, that we have a mission. Our mission is to tell everybody the Good News that God is their Father, that God is the Father of us all, that in spite of all the visible difference of language and culture and social status, we are all one family and should therefore live as brothers and sisters. Our mission is to break the barriers between “us” and “them,” between male and female, between Jew and Gentile, between rich and poor, between Black and White, between First World and Third World, and to bring all humankind to speak the one universal language of brotherly/sisterly love. This is possible only through the working of the Holy Spirit.

One reason his mother gave Benson why he should wake up from his sleep is that he is now forty years old. He is now of age. Christianity is now 2000 years old in the world. Yet even in the so-called Christian civilizations, the universal brotherhood of all humankind in God through Christ has not been understood. “What can I do?” you may say, “I am only a single individual. What difference can I make?” Maybe we can learn something from the story of the black squirrel and the owl.

A black squirrel once asked a wise old owl what was the weight of a single snowflake. “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! The branch suddenly snapped, throwing the squirrel and the snow to the ground. “That was surely a whole lot of nothing,” said the squirrel.

You daily personal efforts to spread the reign of love and justice may be as lightweight as snowflakes. But by heaping our snowflakes together we shall eventually be able to break the heavy branch of sin, evil and injustice growing in our world today.

Come Holy Spirit and fill the heart of your faithful
and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

02 Homily for Pentecost – on the Epistle

By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp

Reversing the Curse of Babel

Acts 2:1-11

Romans 8:8-17

John 14:15-16,23-26

Today we come to the high point of our Easter celebration, the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost, meaning “fifty days” after the Passover — was the feast day in which the Jewish people celebrated the Giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. On Mt Sinai the different tribes of Israel entered into covenant with God and with one another and so became the people of God. God gave them the Ten Commandments as a guide to show them how to be a people, because being people of God means relating to God and to one another in a way that God Himself has mapped out, not in the way that we think is right. Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a people, but in the end it leads to death.” The beginning of wisdom, the beginning of true religion, therefore, is when we realize that as humans we are limited and shortsighted, and so we ask God to show us how to be the people of God that He has created us to be.

Whenever human beings forget how limited we are and try to take the initiative in our dealings with God, what inevitably follows is disaster. An example is the story of the Tower of Babel that we are told in Gen 11 where human beings decided to build a tower that would reach to heaven. In this way they would have access to God whenever they wanted, in this way they could manipulate God. But in the process of building the human bridge to heaven God came and confused their languages. They began to speak different languages, there was no more communication, no more understanding among them, and they could no longer work together. The result was the proliferation of languages and human misunderstanding.

Does the story of Babel remind you of the story we read today from the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples of Jesus speaking in other languages? Actually the two stories are related. But Pentecost is not a repeat of Babel, Pentecost is a reversal of Babel, and this for three reasons:

1. At Babel human beings decided to build a tower to God by their own effort; at Pentecost it is now God who decides to build a bridge to humans by sending the Holy Spirit. Babel was a human initiative, a human effort, Pentecost is a divine initiative, a divine activity through the Holy Spirit.

Imagine this: Jesus ascends to heaven and mandates the disciples to spread the Good News from Jerusalem to all Judea, to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. But the task is too much for them. How could these twelve, uneducated, rural fishermen from Galilee go out and address the learned world of Greek philosophers and Roman poets. Moreover even their fellow Jews are hostile to them. So what do they do? They go in and pray, and wait and pray, and wait — for God’s initiative. And as soon as God gives the sign of the Holy Spirit, there they go, all out on the streets boldly and fearlessly proclaiming the Good News.

What God asks of us as believers always seems impossible. And it is indeed impossible if we rely on our own initiatives and will power alone. But if, like the disciples, we realize that godliness is above us, and so commit ourselves to waiting daily on God in prayer, God will not be found wanting. At the opportune time God will send the flame of the Holy Spirit to invigorate us, and change us from lukewarm to zealous, fervent, enthusiastic believers.

2. Babel was a requiem of misunderstanding, Pentecost is a chorus of mutual understanding. The miracle of Pentecost is very different from the miracle of Babel. At Babel, the people came together with one language, understanding themselves. After God’s intervention they dispersed no longer understanding each other. At Pentecost, on the other hand, people of different ethnic backgrounds (Persians, Asians, Romans, Egyptians, Libyans, Arabs, etc) came together unable to communicate, but after the miracle of Pentecost, they said, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? How is it that we hear them, each of us in our own language?” (Acts 2:7-8).

In order words, as Peter, for example, spoke everyone from all the different language groups gathered there would hear Peter speaking in their own language. The miracle of Pentecost was a miracle of mutual understanding, a restoration of that precious gift that humanity lost at Babel. Now, someone might ask, is there such a language that one could speak and everybody would understand in their own mother tongue? The answer is yes. Ant the name of that language is LOVE. Love is the language that all women and men understand irrespective of ethnic background. Everybody understands when you smile. Love is the language of the children of God, the only language we shall speak in heaven.

3. Finally, Pentecost differs from Babel in its result. Babel resulted in the disintegration of the human family into different races and nationalities. Pentecost, on the other hand, brings all peoples together and reunifies them under one universal family. This universal family embracing all races and nationalities is called church. “Catholic” means “universal”. On Pentecost we celebrate the birthday of the Church. Today is, therefore, an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to be active and faithful members of this family of God we call Church.

Fulton J. Sheen once said about the church that even though we are God’s chosen people, we often behave more like God’s frozen people. God’s frozen people indeed: frozen in our prayer life, frozen in the way we relate with one another, frozen in the way we celebrate our faith. We don’t seem to be happy to be in God’s house; we are always in a hurry to get it over and done with as soon as possible. Today is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle in us the spirit of new life and enthusiasm, the fire of God’s love.

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Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7,12-13/Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23 (15:26-27,16;12-15)

Jesus Breathes the Holy Spirit

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Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7,12-13/Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23 (15:26-27,16;12-15)

Jesus Breathes the Holy Spirit

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from 365 Days with the Lord

GOSPEL:

ON the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

REFLECTION:

2008 The Holy Spirit in the church

Originally, Pentecost was a Jewish feast called Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. A week of weeks is 49 days, but if you count both ends (as the Semites did), it comes to 50. It was celebrated on the 50th day after the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of the First-Fruits. It was a major feast and a very popular one on which Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate.

The awesome story of the first Christian Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, is told in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Luke, its author, initiates this new creation in the same way in which he tends to highlight important events like the birth of Mary’s Child (2:6) and Jesus’ resolute determination to go to Jerusalem to fulfill His mission and die (9:51). He now introduces the dawning of the age of the Holy Spirit as the dominant reality in the life of humankind. In Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the word for “spirit” is the same as the word for “breath” and for “life.”

As symbols of the coming of the Holy Spirit, Luke uses a driving wind, sound, fire, and tongues (Acts 2:2, 3). These symbols wouldn’t have been strange to Jews who knew their Scriptures. The Spirit of God blew over the waters at creation and rushed upon David on the occasion of His anointing as King (1 Sm 16:13). And God appeared frequently in the Jewish Scriptures in the form of fire, the best symbol to the Jews of the brightness and intensity of the activity of God – as, for example, God appearing to Moses in a burning bush and on Mt. Sinai in the form of lightning.

The familiar symbol of tongues is easily grasped as communicating a heavenly gift. Tongues of fire came to rest on each one of the Apostles (Acts 2:3) – due, as Luke points out (Acts 2:4), to the activity of the Holy Spirit. The phenomenon of the people from many nations understanding the Apostles is the countertype of the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel (Gn 11).

The activity of the Spirit is the subject matter of the rest of the Acts of the Apostles. The Spirit instructs the early missioners, is the driving force in proclaiming the message of salvation, is responsible for conversions to the new faith, gives strength in persecution, is the inspiration for Paul’s journeys, and is responsible for the inclusion of non-Jews in the early Church. And all of God’s saving activity until the end of time is due to the loving action of the Holy Spirit.

But perhaps the greatest marvel was the fact that weak, timid, and shallow men were changed into bold and wise men who would reach the ends of the earth to proclaim Jesus.

SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328

2010 Opening Doors
The first images the world saw of the newly elected Pope John Paul II in 1978 were highly symbolic. Here was a young and energetic man, with arms open wide as if to embrace the world. With his election to the See of Peter, fresh air was blowing in the Church. The Piazza San Pietro, with its magnificent colonnades, gave the impression of embracing all kinds of people who gathered at the Vatican to commune with the Pope.
But the Pope would soon travel out of the Vatican to meet with men and women all over the world because, as he himself put it, “man is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission: he is the primary and fundamental way for the Church, the way traced out by Christ himself.” In these travels—and throughout his long Pontificate—he would tirelessly call out: “Peoples everywhere, open the doors to Christ!”
Pentecost Sunday is the day for opening doors. It begins with the locked doors of the Upper Room where the disciples hide for fear of the Jews (Jn 20:19). The risen Jesus comes and stands in their midst. He bestows on them the Holy Spirit, the “first fruit” of his passion and resurrection. The Spirit is given to arouse in them the Easter faith. That they may carry Christ’s message to the world, it is necessary, first of all, that they believe that Jesus rose from the dead. It is the Spirit that sanctifies them in the truth of this fundamental belief of Christianity.
Christ’s appearance to the disciples inaugurates the
theme of mission. The disciples’ mission is the prolongation
of Jesus’ own: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21). This is the mission of salvation; the power to forgive sins is combined with the showing of the marks of the wounds to show that forgiveness is the actualization of Christ’s sacrifice. The power comes with the gift of the Spirit which produces Easter faith, the source of new life and salvation.
Compared to the “Johannine Pentecost” which gives
the disciples a vision of the glorious Christ and the mission to continue his work, the Lucan version we read in the Acts of the Apostles shows the opening of doors to the world. The Spirit comes like a strong driving wind. The ruah (spirit, wind) blows where it wills, opening doors and hearts, enflaming the disciples’ hearts, resting on them like tongues of fire. The effect is devastating. Visitors from all over the world who gather in Jerusalem for the Jewish feast of Weeks or Pentecost witness the mighty acts of God as they hear the Galilean disciples in their own native language. Pentecost marks the birth of the Church as those who accept the message of the apostles are baptized and added to the original disciples (Acts 2:41).
After being canonically elected Pope on October 16, 1978, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland was asked if he would accept. He replied that in obedience to and with faith in Christ and with trust in the mother of Christ—despite great difficulties—he would accept. As Pope John Paul II, he intended to lead the Church into the future, into the new millennium. He would let himself be guided by unlimited trust in and obedience to the Spirit that Christ promised and sent to the Church.
The Pope steered the Church in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council which is the “new Pentecost” of our times. With the Council, the Church has opened its doors and windows to engage the world—all humanity—in its joys and hopes, grief and anxieties, and its endless search for meaning. What the Spirit said to the Church through the Council—despite momentary uneasiness—cannot lead to anything but more solidity in the Church and greater awareness of its saving mission.

2012 Receive the Holy Spirit. As Jesus completes his mission, by his dying and rising, he now gives the Holy Spirit as he breathes on the disciples. Jesus’ action recalls the creation account of God forming man of clay and blowing into it the breath of life so that man became a living being (cf Gn 2:7). Jesus is transforming the disciples to be new persons, giving them new life. They are recreated into a new and lasting relationship with God. They are made whole and one again with God.

The Holy Spirit takes the place, and continues the work, of Jesus when he returns to the Father. The role of the Holy Spirit is twofold.

First, the Holy Spirit guides us on the way of salvation. He leads us to the Father. He is our way to Jesus. We have to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and do what the Spirit advises us to do.

Second, the Holy Spirit makes us understand the words, the ways, and the will of Jesus. The Spirit gives the courage and strength, as he did with the apostles, to bear witness to the gospel to the point of death. The Spirit revitalizes and renews us, like the apostles, to live the faith.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Source: ssp.ph/index.php/online-resources/366-days-with-the-lord/1809-may-27-2012

2018 Peace and joy be with you
Peace in the Bible is rich in meaning. In the Old Testament, one who is at peace is happy; he has many descendants and friends; he is blessed with abundance and fruitful harvest; he eats his fill and sleeps without fear; and he triumphs over his enemies.

For the Israelites, there is more to peace than simply a good relationship with nature, with oneself, or with others.

True peace means a right relationship with the Lord God, because the Lord is peace (cf Jgs 6:24).

Jesus imparts true abiding peace to the disciples on the day of Pentecost. It is his peace that casts away the disciples’ fear and brings joy into their lives once again. His promise to send them the Spirit and to be with them is now fulfilled. Not only does his peace give joy and unlock doors closed by fear; it also brings freedom.

The Son who comes on a mission for the Father receives the Spirit and fulfills his mission. As he leaves to go back to the Father, he entrusts his mission to the disciples. Now, it is their turn to receive the Spirit that they may discharge their mission. Jesus is now glorified with the Father. The time to send and give the Spirit to the disciples has come.

Pentecost opens a new dimension in the life of the Church. With Christ’s peace, communion with the Trinity becomes possible. The gift of peace breaks the barriers of disunity and leads to the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to share the life of God with all believers. The Holy Spirit brings together all humanity.

Pentecost is a time for renewal. Christians are reminded of their apostolic mission to proclaim the Gospel in words and actions. The Spirit comes to bring peace and infuse our mission with enthusiasm and vigor.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328

Source: tempo.com.ph/2018/05/20/jesus-breathes-the-holy-spirit-2/

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Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3-7,12-13/Gal 5:16-25; Jn 20:19-23 (15:26-27,16;12-15)

Jesus Breathes the Holy Spirit

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from MSP

2015 PENTECOST SUNDAY: THE SPIRIT WHO MOVES US TO BECOME WITNESSES

Jn 20:19-23

THE STORY about the descent of the Holy Spirit has quite a particular form in it. It contains some quite odd and interesting descriptions which certainly aims at making a clear and powerful impression with regard to that ‘surprise’ coming of God’s Spirit:  a sudden gust of wind, moving tongues of fire, opening of doors and of men seemingly ‘drunk’.  More so, the effect of the Spirit is also quite amazing:  the Twelve were all gathered in one place, people from all walks of life also gathered together, they heard the apostles addressing them in their own language.  All these transpired because of the one and the same Spirit.

Now there could surely be a lot to say about the theological meanings of this story.  And in any case three things struck us here:  they are inspiration, power and witness.

First, the Spirit of God became the inspiration of the first Christians.  Their existence was no longer led by human motivations.  The apostles were filled with God’s Spirit.  The circumstances of their lives would definitely remain the same, with good and bad days, with sickness and anxieties, but they knew how to bring everything in their lives in connection to our Lord.  This inspiration need not be a miraculous event by which they would totally be changed, but what is evident is that they would no longer allow themselves to be discouraged.  A new horizon has come into their lives.

Second, the Pentecost also tells about power.  The apostles were not heroes.  They had their own faults and failures.  Just like you and me, they had their fears and uncertainties.  But when it comes to choosing for the good, choosing for God, then they knew no boundaries.  An inner power drove them towards the good.  ‘We cannot do otherwise” they would say.  They courageously did what our Lord had done before them. They openly proclaimed the words of Jesus.

Finally, Pentecost also speaks of witness.  A person who lives in the spirit of Jesus brings his past and future in relation with Jesus.  He does not hide his convictions to himself.  For him, Jesus is the first and the last.  He lives out the Lord, so much so that he radiates Him, that, he then becomes a living witness of Him.  That witness happens in his silence or when he speaks, when he is at work or in suffering, but through it all, something comes out of him that points to our Lord.

Certainly, the apostles had already known Jesus for quite some time.  During those times Jesus shared much about Himself to them.  Nonetheless they needed this pouring out of the Spirit in order to come towards this experience of inspiration, be driven by a power (for the good) and become witnesses.  This may also be the case with us.  Our country has been Christianized for more than four centuries ago; individually, we have been Christians for many years, we know the words and deeds of our Lord.  And yet, the Church continues to call for a new evangelization and more than ever we have that great need of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Why?  Because it is the Holy Spirit who will be the one to inspire us by allowing us to recall what our Lord has said and done and be able to ask ourselves:  What would Jesus do if He were in my place.  It is the Spirit who shall pour out on us the power in order that everything that which inspires us from within, we may be able to bring out so that we ourselves would dare to witness to the truth of the Gospel against the currents of the time and the mentality of the world.

Source: msp.org.ph/homilies.do?id=20390

2018 PENTECOST SUNDAY: THE PARACLETE WHO TESTIFIES TO ALL TRUTH

Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15

IT HAS BEEN said that the Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of the Church. And speaking of birthdays, they are important moments of our life which deserve celebrations. Birthdays are occasions through which we can be thankful for the gift of life, and for the love we have received. They provide the opportunity for families, as well as friends to get together.

So, it is with Pentecost. We celebrate today the ‘birthday’ of the church. Down through the centuries the Holy Spirit has guided the Church, in spite of the weaknesses of its members. During these years, the Church has produced generous and heroic people who have been ‘led by the Spirit’ and whose lives have given eloquent witness to the Spirit of God at work in them.

This celebration brings us also to reflect on the mystery of God the Holy Spirit. We believe in one God in three divine Persons. But, of the three divine Persons, the most difficult one for us to think about is the Holy Spirit. We can think about God the Father as the source of all things. We can also picture him as a merciful Father. God the Son or Jesus is also easy to imagine. We find an account of his life and teaching in the gospels, and we can also use our imagination to picture him and to follow him through his early life. But this cannot be the case of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit has not assumed any bodily form, it is impossible for us to imagine him in any concrete way.

However, in the gospel passage, we have heard of the revelation of Jesus about the Holy Spirit. These revelations can help us to think of the Holy Spirit.

Firstly, Jesus describes or calls the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete (Gk: Parakletos), which is translated in various ways: Counselor, Advocate, Helper. It means, literally, “one called alongside of” to help, exhort, and encourage. The Greek word was used in legal settings to refer to an attorney making a defense in court on behalf of someone accused. Thus, when Jesus used this to describe of the Holy Spirit, it means that the Holy Spirit strengthens those who belong to Christ, standing beside them in support as they battle temptation, endure the trials of this world, and rebut the accusations of the devil. Jesus further says that the Spirit will testify to Him. Indeed, the Spirit’s assistance or support was present in the lives of the apostles. The apostles were driven by the Spirit to testify to Jesus.

Secondly, Jesus speaks of the ‘procession’ or the origin of the Holy Spirit. He says, “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father.” Each time we pray the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, we profess of the truth that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. Or we shall say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son. The Orthodox Church would not subscribe to this because for them, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone. But, the words of Jesus in the gospel text are a basis for our belief in it.

Thirdly, Jesus describes the Spirit as the Spirit of Truth and as Guide. Jesus says, “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” The great ecumenical councils in the Church, like the Vatican Council, are a testament to this. The Holy Spirit has guided the Church through the years, particularly in the area of teaching or doctrinal truth. Doctrines have been formulated and explained, and the Church has improved her pastoral approaches with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit is also present in every person. He is present in our life; He is at work in our day-to-day existence. What we need are proper attitudes toward the Spirit. St John Paul II speaks of docility. He says that docility to the Spirit gives man continuous opportunities for life. Pope Francis speaks of openness. He says, “Our hearts must be open, then, so that the Holy Spirit can enter, and so that we can hear the Spirit.” Indeed, when we allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit, we become truly free. AMEN.

Source: msp.org.ph/homilies.do?id=25430

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