Saturday, May 19, 2018

Vigil of Pentecost

My Friends,

Reading I: Genesis 11:1-9
Responsorial Psalm 104
Reading II: Romans 8:22-27
Gospel: John 7:37-3

THE VARIETY OF READINGS for this Pentecost lay out God’s plan for a better world. We’re not talking about personal salvation here. Rather we’re talking about disciples of Christ interacting with the world around them. In other words, the way we communicate our convictions of the truth is what will bring about justice and peace.

Communication, then, is the focus of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit gives those who receive that person of the Trinity not only the words to speak and the actions to perform, but eloquence and powerful deeds.
The first reading from the vigil of Pentecost is a revealing choice of readings. A parable of God’s interaction with humanity and humanity’s failure to reciprocate properly, the Tower of Babel represents humanity’s arrogance and pride in its achievements. Confusion of tongues results and divides the world. With the New Testament—the era of the Holy Spirit—that division begins to be resolved. The resolution comes about as each new creature is reborn through baptism. With Babel God takes the wind out of our sails, so to speak. With Pentecost and the infilling with the Holy Spirit we are given the power to forgive sins. The world is reconciled to God through Jesus whose Spirit restores relationships. We are restored to God and to one another.

The Spirit of God is communicated to us by Jesus directly through the Apostles. He breathes His Spirit into them. After Jesus is ascended, the Spirit shows up anew in a more public setting so that the new power would be immediately effective for proclaiming the gospel. It is for the purpose of winning the world for Christ that the Spirit is given—the communication of the gospel. The Tower of Babel is no longer hanging over humanity; God’s Spirit in people bridges the communication gap. Ultimately all strife and contention will be overcome by the love of Christ as proclaimed and lived by His followers.

Once again, as the Gospel of John emphasizes, forgiving and reconciling are the dominant results of the Spirit’s indwelling. Paul points out that there are many gifts, all for building up the Body of Christ, but the preeminent gift we receive is the power to forgive and retain sins.
All Anglican Catholics by their baptism have a priestly character. Although only the ordained priest can forgive sins in the name of Christ’s church, all who are baptized can forgive and promote an atmosphere of reconciliation. What divides even followers of Christ is the holding of grudges. But if we stir up the spiritual gives within us, we will know how to forgive and be agents of reconciliation at home, at work, in church. But first we must shake off the way of the world. We must reflect and examine our consciences. We must make ourselves aware of where there is unforgiveness, dissention and division so that Jesus’ peace can take over our lives.

We are resurrection people—a time honoured way of referring to Christ’s disciples. Pentecost, however is what makes resurrection people effective.

Questions to ponder
•If I am a disciple of Christ who communicates with the day-to-day world around me, how does the Spirit of Christ in me affect the way I communicate?
•What role, if any, does a disciple of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit have to play in the world at large?
•Forgiveness and reconciliation are the principle works of Spirit-filled people. What are some examples of such works in my own experience?

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne

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