Friday, 22 May 2015

24.5.15 They were amazed and astonished.

Pentecost Sunday (Year B)

Welcome, once more, to a little liturgy.  This week we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, one of the occasions when the apostles experience the presence of God in a very powerful and public way.  

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11
The apostles were gathered in one room to celebrate a feast day when they heard a loud wind and saw tongues of fire.  They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign languages and started to preach about the marvels of God.  Everyone was amazed!  There were many people in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast and they all spoke different languages but everyone could understand what the apostles said.  

Psalm 103
Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.  

Second Reading
Letter to the Galatians 5:16-25
St Paul tells us to be guided by the Spirit and to avoid self-indulgence which, he says, leads to all sorts of bad results.  The Spirit gives us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.  

John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
Jesus tells the disciples that he will send the Advocate (Spirit) to help them be his witnesses.  The Sprit will lead them to the complete truth.  


The readings this week are all about the Spirit.  After the Ascension, the apostles found it difficult to continue preaching without Jesus to advise and support them.  They were in much the same position as we are today.  However, God sent his Spirit to them to encourage them and give them strength.  This is demonstrated with the imagery of wind and fire.  The senses of hearing, touch and sight were all involved in this experience.  The apostles found strength and new talents and were able to preach to people and make them understand the marvels of God, even though they did not speak the same language.  
We can sometimes find it difficult to be Christians and communicate our faith to others.  However, we too have been given the Spirit to encourage and support us.  It does not always appear quite so dramatically as it did to the apostles; it could come as a kind word or thought from somebody or an idea that suddenly comes to us.  Many people speak of being "moved by the Spirit" or having a sense of what they should do that they cannot explain.  It is important that we are open to these experiences and think carefully about how we can live lives that are guided by the Spirit.  

Activity during Homily

The Church suggests that we can express God's love in us if we demonstrate certain qualities, traditionally known as the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit.   They are based on what St Paul says in the reading we heard today.  Some have been jumbled up; try to work them out.  You can check with St Paul's list in the Second Reading if you are struggling!

faithfulness (trustfulness)
flse - ncotlor

The Church also recognises the  7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.  They are based on a list from Isaiah 11, which describes these qualities as being the qualities of the Messiah.   Jesus made it possible for us to share these gifts when he gave us his Spirit.  They are:

counsel (good advice)
fortitude (strength)
piety (treating religion carefully and with respect)
fear of the Lord  (being amazed and awestruck by God)

Think about the people in your life.  Do they have these qualities? 

Other activities and resources

1.  As well as a list of positive qualities, St Paul gives us a list of negatives; many of these are the opposite of the positives and he explains them to be the result of "self indulgence".  They are:

fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility
idolatry and sorcery
feuds and wrangling
jealousy, bad temper and quarrels
disagreements, factions, envy
drunkenness, orgies

You may need to ask for some help to understand these.  Many of them are the opposite of modesty and chastity which appear in the Church's list of fruits of the Holy Spirit.  

2.  Investigate the Jewish feast that the apostles had gathered to celebrate called "Shavuot".  Some information can be found on the link below:

info about Shavuot

3.  You might also like to read the Old Testament story about how people came to speak different languages in the first place:

You tube Bible extract

4.  Click below to see map of countries represented in Pentecost account:


Have a good week!


Picture courtesy of fotographic1980 at free digital

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