A Spirit of Forgiveness

06-09-2019Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

When we hear or read the first reading this weekend, we realize that it is impossible to get away from the Holy Spirit. Indeed the Holy Spirit is a help and aide, so why would the apostles want to hide from the Spirit? The presence of the Holy Spirit is often overwhelming. This scene shows how it amazes people and even gets everyone to understand every one else's language. Quite the feat! The Holy Spirit gets people to go beyond the barriers of language and words. Barriers and walls disappear with the Holy Spirit. This Spirit is a spirit of charity, kindness, and unity.

In the reading we learn the people have come from everywhere to worship in Jerusalem on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, which is a harvest feast. Now a "new harvest" is to be gathered through the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember this is same Spirit that descended upon the kings of Israel, our Blessed Mother Mary and also John the Baptizer. Indeed this same Spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan River.

Paul reminds us in today's second reading that we are all to drink from the one Spirit. This Spirit is to aid the Church as it grows after Pentecost. Paul's second Letter to the Corinthians makes this very clear. Their divisive fighting makes Paul remind them that their source of unity comes from dwelling in the Spirit. If they fail to be unified in the Spirit, then they will also fail. They can be different, but they must be part of the one Spirit.

And we learn from our Gospel passage that this Spirit is a Spirit of forgiveness. We must go back in time from Pentecost and the early Church (about eighty years out) to the now long ago first Easter evening. Do you remember the scene where in the quiet of the darkening evening Jesus came to his chastened, confused, and frightened apostles who have no idea of what to think or feel.. Jesus offered them a greeting of peace, and then gave them a mission. This is rather shocking when you think about it. Why give this bunch of confused and woe-begotten men a mission, indeed the work of continuing his own work on earth? The actual "why" has to do with the power and work of the Holy Spirit.

How on earth are they to carry on? Bear in mind that "through, with, and in" the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus passes on the very breath of his life, the Holy Spirit. This gift, this indwelling Holy Spirit, makes itself known in the most difficult of human gestures—forgiveness. True abiding forgiveness is a work of the Holy Spirit. This scene at Pentecost from so very long ago reminds us of this simple and important truth.

Thank You to our Cub Scouts: On behalf of our Parish and our loved ones who lie at rest in our cemetery, I want to express appreciation to the Cub Scouts of our Parish who gave generously of their time to place American flags on the graves of our Veterans at our Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day. This quiet work of charity honors those who have served our country so that we might live in a free democratic society.

Parish Pastoral Council (PPC): This Tuesday evening, the PPC will gather for its last meeting to say thank you to Cheryl Crowley, Tim Hurdlebrink, Lisa Oxford, and John Ristaino as outgoing members, and to welcome Paula Coughlin, Ed Croak, John Determan, and Paula Marano. On behalf of our entire Parish, I wish to express appreciation and gratitude to the outgoing members for their volunteer service and to welcome aboard our new members who will participate in guiding and directing our Parish Faith Community. The work of the PPC is to help develop and foster the vision of our Parish as a vibrant faith community in Jesus Christ.