Reflection on Pentecost Sunday

By Fr. Rocco Marra, IMC

Pentecost: The Eastertide, which is a week of weeks plus a day, culminates in the Solemnity of Pentecost, the 50th Day: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the fullness of Easter and the birth of the Church in an epiphany that completes the Sinai with the gift of the New Law, in the sign of fire and wind, written now in hearts changed from stones into hearts of flesh.

This very happy time is almost completely crossed by the month of May that the piety of the faithful consecrates to Mary.

The first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11

In the community of Jerusalem were about one hundred and twenty members (Acts1:15) they were filled of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). God, the Holy Spirit, formed them in one Church; the same Spirit gave to each one his gifts and they began to speak in other languages. So every man in the crowd heard some one or more speaking in his own tongue, language, or dialect, and all were declaring the mighty works of God. With the experience of Pentecost, the Word of salvation is not only for Israel, but for all nations and cultures, on earth. The Holy Spirit is always active, and it guides the journey of today’s Church in the world, he is our hope and life, and he gives us strength to testify Jesus in our society.

The second reading is from the letter of St. Paul to the Galatians 5:16-25

Saint Paul introduced to us the image of “flesh” to signify what is selfishness, immature and sinfulness; instead he encourages each one to be responsible person docile to the Spirit. In the Spirit, we find the true freedom; that is service and harmony, the style of relation revealed by Jesus. Then we remember that Jesus Christ introduced to humanity this way, through the Cross. Let us allowed Jesus to take off from the heart, our selfishness and let the Spirit mould us in his image.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

The Gospel is from St. John 15:26-27; 16:12-15

On this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus is sharing with his Apostles the last precious words of his life, before to face the mystery of the Cross. Jesus knew that three years of instruction to them were not enough to understand the mission they had to start and they could not have strength to face persecution. So he comforted them with the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Helper: In the Scripture we find different ways of calling the Holy Spirit: the Defender, the Comforter, the Teacher, the Protector, the Counsellor, the Guide, the Exhorter and other ways to say that the Spirit of Truth assists the believers of all the times to understand the complete meaning of the words of Jesus, and to testify the Gospel to the nations and cultures of the world. “To understand” is to see with the eyes of God, to be able to see and to do his work in the human history and to grow in faith.

As individuals, as families and communities, we are called to be in net with God, through prayer, to listen to his Word of Life and to be opened to the newness of the Holy Spirit, who helps us to be witnesses of Jesus in the society in today’s time.

“When the risen Jesus first appears to his disciples, he says to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (Jn. 20:22-23).  Jesus does not condemn them for having denied and abandoned him during his passion, but instead grants them the spirit of forgiveness.  The Spirit is the first gift of the risen Lord, and is given above all for the forgiveness of sins.  Here we see the beginning of the Church, the glue that holds us together, the cement that binds the bricks of the house: forgiveness.  Because forgiveness is gift to the highest degree; it is the greatest love of all.  It preserves unity despite everything, prevents collapse, and consolidates and strengthens.  Forgiveness sets our hearts free and enables us to start afresh.  Forgiveness gives hope; without forgiveness, the Church is not built up.

The spirit of forgiveness resolves everything in harmony, and leads us to reject every other way: the way of hasty judgment, the cul-de-sac of closing every door, the one-way street criticizing others.  Instead, the Spirit bids us take the two-way street of forgiveness received and forgiveness given, of divine mercy that becomes love of neighbor, of charity as “the sole criterion by which everything must be done or not done, changed or not changed” (ISAAC OF STELLA, Or. 31).  Let us ask for the grace to make more beautiful the countenance of our Mother the Church, letting ourselves be renewed by forgiveness and self-correction.  Only then will we be able to correct others in charity. The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts, even though we often cover him with the ash of our sins.  Let us ask him: “Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come!  Like water, we need you to live.  Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us.  Amen””. (Pope Francis, Pentecost 2017)


Vatican City, Mar 3, 2018 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ decision that the Church celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as “Mother of the Church” every year on the Monday after Pentecost, as a way to foster Marian piety and the maternal sense of the Church.

The decree establishing the memorial was published March 3 in a letter from Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

As Sarah explained, Pope Francis added the memorial to the Roman Calendar after carefully considering how the promotion of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this particular title might encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church” and in “genuine Marian piety.”

“This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed,” Sarah wrote.

The cardinal noted that the “joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman, the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.”

The memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, has been added to the General Roman Calendar, the Roman Missal, and the Liturgy of the Hours. The Latin text has been published, and the translations will be prepared by the bishops’ conferences and approved by the congregation.

A celebration of a memorial generally means that prayers and readings specific to the day’s memorial are used in the Mass.

The Marian title of “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Bl. Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council. It was also added to the Roman Missal after the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975.

Subsequently, some countries, dioceses and religious families were granted permission by the Holy See to add this celebration to their particular calendars. With its addition to the General Roman Calendar, it will now be celebrated by the whole Roman Catholic Church.

In 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, will be celebrated on May 21.