(Note: The assigned Scripture readings for Pentecost are the same each year regardless of the three-year cycle of readings. The Catholic Church, however, offers alternate Epistle and Gospel readings to the primary set of readings featured in the 2011 Pentecost meditation in this series. The alternate Epistle reading was featured in the 2012 Pentecost meditation; this posting will include a meditation on the alternate Gospel reading.
(To read the previous Pentecost meditations on usedview.com, please click on:
(This weekend’s Scripture readings are available in the New American Bible translation – the one used in U.S. Catholic parishes – at the Vatican’s English website at www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/_INDEX.HTM.)
Gospel (alternate): John 14:15-16, 23b-26 (Revised Standard Version)
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John. Glory to You, O Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever.
“If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.
Meditation: Think of the inexpressibly wonderful gift that God gives His people and that we remember this weekend. God was, is and always will be one God. But from the Fall of Adam and Eve until the Incarnation in Bethlehem, God and the human race He created had been estranged. They could not even look upon Him and live. Then the Father, the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, sent the Second Person – His only-begotten Son – to take flesh, live among us, teach us His ways, suffer, die and rise again. Yet, having given us all of this as His free and undeserved gift, He still wishes to be with us … and, in fact, He wishes to live in us!
So, having given the disciples His Body and Blood in the Eucharist for the first time, Jesus now tells them that He will send them the Holy Spirit. The Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, proceeding from the Son no less than the Father, will enter the hearts of the believers after Christ completes His redemptive task and returns to heaven. When they hear these words for the first time, the disciples do not fully understand – but they would come to understand over the glorious 50 days to come and especially once the Spirit lit upon them as tongues of fire. Then they would remember all the words their Savior and Friend had told them while He walked upon earth. Then they would be empowered to teach everything He taught them with power that was not theirs.
Now think of the first command Jesus gives in this reading: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” How could they – or we – possibly keep them all in this life with our fallen nature and our creaturely limitations? Indeed, they would become only too aware of those failings in the 24 hours after Jesus spoke to them. Judas had already left the Upper Room to betray his Lord. Peter, Jesus’ appointed Rock, would deny Him three times. All the rest but John would scatter and hide. So quickly did they fail to keep Jesus’ new commandment, though it was the simple one that summarized all the others: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
This is why Jesus promised to send the Spirit. St. Paul would state the impact of the Spirit succinctly for all time: Any good that he himself did was not by him, but by the Spirit living in him. As noted in last weekend’s meditation, we remain imperfect human beings. We still have the free will to obscure the view of other people of the Spirit within us. We can even reject the Spirit – the terrible “sin against the Holy Spirit” that cannot be forgiven if we continue to commit it at the moment of death. But the Spirit gives us all we need to keep God’s commandments: the memory of His teachings; the understanding of how to follow them; the grace that alone enables us to take the all-important step of accepting His free gift; above all, the all-encompassing love between the Son and the Father that is the Holy Spirit.
Blessed Pope John Paul II emphasized that God is best understood as a family: one God in three Persons, united by love. As the 1960s song said, what the world needs now is love. We who say we are Christians have had that love within us and surrounding us for 2,000 years. We must go forth, as the disciples did on the first Pentecost, and cry out: Repent. Be baptized. Save yourselves from this crooked generation! And the one true God will come to you and make His dwelling with you. And then you will share in the love that will fully be ours in the life to come.
Close with individual prayer, followed by Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be