June 9, 2019 • Pentecost Sunday
First Reading: Acts 2:1–11
Psalm: Psalm 104:1, 24, 29–30, 31, 34 (30)
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13
Sequence: Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit)
Gospel Acclamation: From the popular prayer, Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
Gospel: John 20:19–23
Here is the Sequence for Pentecost:
Veni, Sancte Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.
Pentecost was one of the three pilgrim feasts that required the adult men of Israel to travel to Jerusalem. (Ignatius Study New Testament, Commentary on Acts 2:1) Originally it was a harvest festival for the spring wheat crop, but it had also become a celebration of when the Torah was given to Israel by God through Moses on Mount Sinai. That is why verse 5 of the first reading from Acts 2:1–11 notes that there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. The Father and the Son chose that moment to send the Holy Spirit upon the disciples waiting in Jerusalem for the power from on high, the Holy Spirit, to come and empower them to be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth. And the Holy Spirit creates quite a commotion as He comes, enabling the disciples, who were rustic Galileans, to speak in the various languages of all those Jews and others present, about the mighty acts of God, not to mention the sound of rushing wind and tongues of fire hovering over each of the disciples. Then Peter stands up and preaches a message that results in the conversion of three thousand that very day! Wow! Now that is evangelization!
When God sends forth His Spirit, He does renew the face of the earth, which the Psalmist celebrates in Psalm 104. The Spirit gives life! He is the Lord, the Giver of Life, as we declare in the Nicene Creed during Mass.
The Apostle Paul declares in the second reading, from 1 Corinthians 12, that the Holy Spirit manifests Himself through us for the benefit of all, bringing different kinds of spiritual gifts, forms of service and kinds of work. He also brings unity to the Body of Christ. The Sacraments of Initiation, of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, are in view here as Paul mentions the gifting of the Holy Spirit, Baptism and drink.
Finally, we see Jesus, in the Gospel reading from John 20, appearing to His frightened disciples after His resurrection to reassure them, commission them and breathe the Holy Spirit into them, equipping them to serve others through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the forgiveness of sins. There have been times when priests, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, have refused to grant absolution to individuals who are impenitent or are concealing sins. Saints Pio of Pietrelcina and John Vianney, the Curé of Ars, come to mind.
We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, on this Pentecost Sunday and repeat the Gospel Acclamation, “Alleluia, alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love.”