Reflection on the Gospel of John 20:19-23: and the The Epistle, Acts 2:1-21 Day of Pentecost, May 28, 2023

The Gospel and Epistle for Pentecost go hand in hand and a reflection for Pentecost needs both.

The Gospel of John 20:19-23          When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

The Epistle, Acts 2:1-21 When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs– in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

`In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above, and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ “

Let us pray: Mighty God, as we are gathered together spiritually, joined in hope and in faith, we ask you to minister to our needs. Send the Holy Spirit to fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in them the fire of your love. This we pray in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

This Gospel of John gives a unique account of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. At this first encounter of Jesus with the believing community, he breathed the Spirit* on the disciples, and simultaneously sent them out as the Father had sent him. The mission of Jesus, the proclamation of the Reign of God, a reign of love, justice, and peace, is now placed in the hands of the disciples. They must conduct the work of making God’s compassion and forgiveness known to all by means of this sending. The Eleven were made apostles, which means, “those sent.” The last verses clearly speak of the community’s power to forgive in the Name of Jesus. Through the ever present power of the Spirit, the Christian community will be able to offer healing and union with God and one another. Not only does Christ give us peace with God through His blood, but He also gives us the peace of God through His abiding presence with us as we seek to accomplish the gospel mission. The peace that the Lord gives also extends to our relationships with one another. Christ has given us peace with God, the peace of God, and peace with one another, so that we can carry out His mission. Today’s reading offers this significant message: The Spirit the Church possesses is the power to forgive sins. We are all called to forgive one another. As we proclaim the gospel to this hostile world, the Lord’s presence gives us “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”.*The Greek word for Spirit (pneuma) highlights the dynamic and unexpected action of the Spirit, which, like the wind, blows where it wills.

The Lesson of Acts 2: 1-21 shows the love of God that surrounds you and the strength of the Spirit is always beside you. Beneath the noise of the wind and the brightness of the tongues of fire a silent miracle is taking place. Like the miracle of people of all ages and languages who could understand each other, today like a miracle we are learning to understand each other’s concerns and fears. Like the Apostles who spent a lot of time trembling and hiding after Christ’s Ascension not knowing what to expect many are spending a lot of time concerned and not knowing what to expect with all the uncertainty, we face every day.  As with the Apostles, the Spirit gave them strength to go out into the world. If we believe in the Spirit, it will give us the strength to go forward, to face the challenges of today. Even though we are challenged, the Spirit has joined us in hope and faith. The work of the spirit continues, continually helping perform miracles of healing and restoration. You may feel that you are lost as an individual in today’s events. It seems sometimes we are forgotten in the chaos around us, but God is with us. The spirit guides us, and God never forgets us for we will never be overlooked. So, what is our task in all this chaos, how do we help in sharing the Good News of the Spirit. We can begin with Jesus’ great commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” With these commandments we can grow into the person we are called to be. The Holy Spirit encourages us, inspires us to live our lives to our full potential. We can live not just for ourselves, but we must live for the good of others. So, on this day of Pentecost, we should rejoice because of the wondrous gift of the Holy Spirit. Today and every day the Holy Spirit continues to be with us as we celebrate life, that divine gift from the One Who loves us without holding back.

Let us pray: Blessed are you Lord, you come to us in many ways making us aware of your presence in our lives. You come as the spirit who walks with us, who continually guides and protects us. We thank you for our being and we thank you for being close to us so we can continually use the gifts you have given us to glorify you and your Son our Savior. This we pray in Jesus name. Amen and Alleluia!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: