May 19, 2013
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First Reading: Acts 2:1-11
Second Reading: Romans 8:22-27
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-23
- This Sunday’s Gospel is a reading that we just heard on the 2nd Sunday of Easter. For this Pentecost Sunday, therefore, we will instead be looking at the First Reading for this Sunday, taken from the Acts of the Apostles.
- The setting is at Jerusalem in the upper room where the Last Supper had been held. It is10 days after the Ascension, at which time Jesus had left them specific instructions (Acts 1:45). About 120 people, including Mary, were present. It is the time of the Jewish feast of Pentecost.
- Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks (in Hebrew, Shavout), was one of three major Jewish pilgrim feasts, celebrated seven weeks after Passover (Deuteronomy 16:16). Devout Jews from all over the known world would be in Jerusalem for these two feasts (verses 9-11). Originally a harvest festival where God’s people would offer him the first fruits (best part) of the harvest, it came to be also a commemoration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai on the fiftieth day after the Exodus from Egypt (from the Greek Petekoste, meaning “fiftieth”).
- Christians now celebrate Pentecost as the “birthday” of the Church, and a celebration of the giving of the New Law of the Spirit written on the hearts of believers (Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6) as was promised to the Apostles by Our Lord (John 15:26;16:13; 20:22, Luke 24:49).
- Even though as Christians, we have “the first fruits of the Spirit” (2nd Reading, verse 23). How is it, then, that we are “groaning within ourselves as we are awaiting adoption” [by God]? How do verses 24 through 26 help to answer this?
- What was the original meaning of the Feast of Pentecost for Jews (Deuteronomy 16:9-10)? What theological significance did they add to this feast? Why do you think God chose the Jewish Feast of Pentecost to give the Holy Spirit to the Church? What is the meaning of Pentecost for Christians (Acts 2:32-33; CCC 715)?
- How far have these pilgrims come (verses 9-11)? What attracts them to the disciples? Would you respond more like those in verse 12 or those in verse 13? Why?
- When have you experienced an empowering from God to witness about Christ? How does being filled with the Spirit relate to bearing witness about Christ?
- Have you ever had a strong religious conversion experience? If so, how did your behavior change, and what did your family and friends think about it? What did you think about it?
Catechism of the Catholic Church: §§ 2623, 696, 1287, 715
Those who are led by the Holy Spirit have true ideas; that is why so many ignorant people are wiser than the learned. The Holy Spirit is light and strength.
–St. John Vianney
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