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Contents: Volume 2 - Pentecost Day June 9 2019 and Sacred Heart June 8 2019


 

Pentecost

&

Sacred

Heart

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Pentecost Day 2019

Pentecost is one of those liturgical feast days that is very familiar to church-goers. The name Holy Spirit is also. Ask more about the Holy Spirit and things aren't quite so clear!

The readings tell us many things that the Holy Spirit "does" especially teaching us and guiding us. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles recalls that all those assembled at Pentecost heard "them (the apostles) speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God" even though the hearers were from many (hard to pronounce) places. It occurred to me that the Holy Spirit is really all things to all people, depending on what is needed at the time.

What do you need the Holy Spirit to renew in you this Pentecost? My suggestion is to read/ pray through the Sequence a few times to allow your heart to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Veni, Sancte Spiritus! (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/060919-day.cfm)

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Pentecost – The Fiftieth Day Since Passover of the Lord June 9 2019

Acts 2:1-11; Responsorial Psalm 104; 1st Corinthians 12:3-7 & 12-13 (or Romans 8:8-17); John 20:19-23 (or John 14:15-16 & 23-26)

Pentecost is often considered the birthday of the Church. This is the day on which the disciples lost their fear of the Jews and of the Romans – religious authority and civil authority – and began preaching the good news. Essentially their message is this: God loves the world so much that sends his son to teach, to heal, and to eliminate the fear of death. This Jesus rids the world of the effects of sin and shame, of guilt and addiction. In so doing, all the nations of the world, all peoples, languages, traditions, cultures, and races are being brought into one Body. The coming of the Holy Spirit – sent by the Father and the Son - energizes, provides wisdom and knowledge, brings strength so that we have the courage and persistence to endure what evil and the incompletion of creation can do to harm us. The mission and the works of Jesus signaled the beginning of the transformation of God’s creation. The way of the world is shown for what it is. The way of the world is incapable of helping us grow into the fullness of children of God’s creation. Wealth accumulated and removed from the use of the needy divides and creates pharaohs who break the backs of the poor, of those working for family and nation, and of those whose creativity provides opportunity, insight, and the overcoming of evil and even death. Power that dominates and manipulates and divides person from person kills and supplants the freedom of all persons. Pharaoh seeks to kill hope of people by robbing them of their children. Arrogance based on illusions founded on fame runs rough shod over all who strive to learn, to grow, and to survive. The hubris of the famous denies worth and dignity to ordinary folk and their communities.

With the Pentecost event in history, the Way of the Christ is established. The Kingdom of God begins its reign. It is not complete with the coming of the Spirit. It is still, even now after two thousand years, only at its early beginnings. But the constant growth of the People of God contests with the rampant misuse of wealth, power, and fame. The People of God’s weapons and tactics and winning strategy is mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. These three characteristics of the Church are reflections of God’s relationship with us as his People and as individuals collected into the community that is the Church. Pentecost is the beginning of the new reign of God. But only the beginning! We still have work to do. That work is not only in our communities, our region, our nation and our world. It begins within us. It thrives because we are merciful, we are compassionate, and we forgive those who trespass against us. In doing so we begin to understand God’s forgiveness of our inadequacies, of our misjudged allegiances with evil, and of our flirtations with violence, lies, theft, and murder. Idolatry is the subject of the first commandment. Yet, how many of us ever consider that aligning ourselves with evil is in effect worshipping the world’s way?

The importance of this day in our liturgical/spiritual life is clear. There is so much to be said that there are many possible readings for the vigil of Pentecost. A vigil is a time before the event-day spent in watching, in active waiting for a re-enactment of the event. The readings for the Vigil – for the Saturday before Pentecost – set the scene for us. In the old testament there is a longing for the coming of God among the people. The possible first readings from the Old Testament give evidence of that longing. Listening to that longing we can learn for ourselves the wonder that is the coming of the Holy Spirit in Pentecost.

In the first reading from the Book of Genesis, we hear the story of the tower of Babel. It states that all people spoke the same language till their pride of accomplishment got in the way of understanding one another. Language separated them and the unity among peoples was lost. Suspicion and hatred arose and dominated relationships. Do we not experience how lack of willingness to understand one another leads to hatred and eventually violence? Do we not know that the only way we’ll ever find a life with less stress, with less defensiveness, with less attraction to violence is to love one another? That’s a tough task but the results bring us peace AND forgiveness.

From the book of Exodus we head the story of Moses’ call to lead the Hebrew people out of bondage. In their escape from Pharaoh they became one nation, a people dedicated to following the plan of God for their living. You’ll note that the pharaoh is not named. This leads us to believe that pharaoh is a generic type of leadership and/or culture. Who are the pharaohs in our time and in our lives that demand our allegiance, our lives, and even the lives of our children?

There is also the story of the dry bones Ezekiel saw in his vision. The great valley he was taken to is filled with disjointed, sun bleached dry bones scattered about. When the Spirit of God flowed over those bones, the bones came together with great noise, with clicking and snapping. As those bones returned to dried out joints they were bound together by sinew and muscle. From those dried up bones there arose a great multitude. What was life in pieces became living persons, marching together in community. That which was dried up and despairing was lifted up from unburied graves of hopelessness and despair. Human life was returned and there was a joyful noise. The final words of that reading are encouraging. "I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord." We should hear those words in our hearts and the boredom, the anxieties, the anger, and the guilt of lifeless days will disappear under the vitality of Spirit-filled living.

Or we can learn from a reading in the book of Joel. This is a favorite of mine in my advanced years. "Thus says the Lord: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even upon the servants and the handmaids in those days I will pour out my spirit." This promise includes all! No one is excluded. All are treated equally and lifted up to fullness of living.

The second reading for the Vigil of Pentecost is from Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is short, but very powerful in message and imagery. Paul tells us all creation is groaning in labor pains as it strains to bring forth new life. This new life is the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom is one of peace and harmony and the time and place where each person can become full and complete in its relationship to self, to community, and to God. Paul understands this Kingdom is a work in progress. "For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance."

The gospel for the vigil speaks of Jesus on the last and greatest day of the feast of Passover. Jesus holds himself up as the example and the source of vitality and energy for those who come to him and drink his message and the truth of his coming. "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. As scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me.’"

These multiple choice readings ready us to receive the Spirit of God within our hearts. In the story of God creating humanity in the book of Genesis, God’s breath in the nostrils of the molded clay brings humanity to life. On the fiftieth day after Passover – our Easter - the Spirit comes as a great, loud wind recreating that human life, transforming us from lumps of clay into living, breathing, and energized persons. That breath makes us sons and daughters of God in the image of his incarnated son, Jesus. Our relationships with self, with all others, with creation, and through each of these to God himself is a new creation, a new world, and a new vitality to living.

The gospel for the feast of Pentecost recounts Jesus coming into the upper room after his resurrection. He extends to them his peace. He breathes on them. This brings our minds to remember the creation of man in Genesis. It reminds us of the story in Ezekiel. We should not forget in all this excitement, however, that it was in this context that Jesus gives his disciples and us the divine gift of forgiveness. In extending his peace to these disciples who ran from Jesus in his darkest hours, Jesus gave them forgiveness. When Jesus tells these disciples to forgive others as they have been forgiven he tells each of us as well that we are to be messengers and purveyors of forgiveness to others in our world. What a world we would discover if we were able to first forgive ourselves for our evil inclinations, thoughts, and actions! What a world we would live in were we able to forgive those who are unaware of the harms and the hurts they have heaped upon us! God’s forgiveness is demonstrated to us in the final words of Jesus as he suffers unjustly on the Cross. "Father, forgive them!" He adds, "For they know not what they do." Mercy, compassion, forgiveness! This is the message of Pentecost when all creation is renewed: when the Spirit renews the face of the earth. Rejoice and be glad! For we are welcomed into the Kingdom of God.

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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PENTECOST GRACE DAY BY DAY

All through Easter time we’ve been reading and listening to that great book, the Acts of the Apostles. While it’s about all the apostles of the infant Church, all the missionaries of God’s love at that time, it’s also about the love of God in person. I’m speaking, of course, about the Holy Spirit, who in the Book of Acts is both God’s love in person (Grace) and the chief apostle. Again and again the Holy Spirit speaks to people and their needs through other human beings. Again and again other human beings act as agents, instruments, and missionaries of the Spirit. That’s very significant, for it is still one of the main ways the Holy Spirit gets through to us, enlightening and healing us.

One of our biggest needs as human beings is to grow up and mature. Becoming mature-thinking and mature-acting people involves moving away from selfishness and self-centredness and reaching out to others with interest, care and concern, and working with others to make that better world that is God’s Kingdom). We learn to do this through our association and contact with other human beings. What’s particularly useful, helpful and important in our dealings with others, and especially with close family and friends, are our conversations. This is especially the case when our chatting to one another gets beyond the superficial, and has to do with what matters most. On both sides, the sharing which takes place is not just listening to the other’s words, but also of responding. By sharing our insights with an open mind and an open heart, we help one another grow and develop as good, sensible, responsible and warm-hearted people.

Again and again, if we are to make progress and change our ways of living, it may be necessary to hear from those we talk to, things which are challenging, things which are perhaps even quite painful, but which turn out, at least in the long run, to set us free to become better people. In fact, through the journey of a whole life-time, we may hear ourselves being called to face many challenges and make many changes.

There’s another dimension to all this. In fact, there’s a third party in all this. In the words of others, even unintended remarks and chance conversations, God’s word may be addressed to us, God’s word of truth, the truth that sets us free, the truth that delivers and encourages us.

The word of God as it comes to us from others in conversation can be painful. We need strength to reply to the call and challenge which God speaks to us through others. Perhaps what we hear from others stirs up certain fears. Can we, e.g., take the risk of listening to them, even when they are on our side? Isn’t there some danger that if we listen to them, our self-esteem may shrink? Isn’t there some danger that if we listen to the truth coming from another person, we may end up being psychologically dependent, even under that person’s spell?

Faced with such risks, it takes considerable courage to engage in the kind of conversations which will challenge us to become more mature, more responsible, more caring and more generous people. We find the courage to face the truth only if the other addresses us sensitively, i.e. with respect, with care, and with love. Love is the only way which works. Were we to be brutally confronted with what may be in us, e.g. our anger and superficiality, our resentment and self-rejection, we might crumble to pieces. But the gift of the acceptance, encouragement and support of the other person creates in us the strength we need – to listen, to know ourselves better, and to accept ourselves as we are, not only with our weaknesses, but also with our strengths and our possibilities. The gift of the other’s care and concern, the friendship and communion they give us, creates in us a deep sense of freedom – freedom to become a better person, freedom to open up and share with others the love and care which has been given to us.

Faced with the risks involved, the freedom to take those risks and let ourselves enter into a life-giving conversation and sharing with others, is experienced as both a power and a gift. It is a gift, not something self-generated, a gift given to us by people who love us and care for us. Yet should we start to state what they have done for us and express our gratitude, this would be too much. For typically, those significant others we talk to and support us, simply don’t realize just how much they mean to us. They may cut us short, or say something like ‘it was nothing’, or ‘what are friends for?’ The strength and support which they communicate to us goes beyond what they see themselves as giving. This takes us beyond them as God’s instruments to God’s self, the ultimate source of that understanding and support which another human being communicates to us.

The implication of the experience is that in the conversations, friendship, love and support, through which we grow and mature, the Holy Spirit of God is also present as the deeper dimension of the meetings and conversations which change us for the better. This is so true that we can truly speak of certain people who are important to us, people who support us and keep us going, as real ‘Godsends’.

On this feast of Pentecost, then, let us give thanks to God for sending us the Holy Spirit day after day, the Spirit who comes to us whenever a friend or family member or some significant other says to us what we need to hear, and reaches out to us with their support and friendship, and helps our lives become more meaningful, more fulfilling, and more worth living!


Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus June 8; 2019

"BEHOLD THIS HEART THAT HAS LOVED SO MUCH…" (from Jesus to St Margaret Mary)

Going into a Catholic Church building, one usually comes across a statue of Jesus showing his heart. Such a statue is called "The Sacred Heart". His displayed heart tells of the strong and constant love of Jesus the Saviour for every human being, past, present, and future. In this vivid way the Son of God keeps saying that "God is love" (1 John 4:16), unlimited love, and only love.

Throughout his years on earth Jesus kept showing his love for people in so many wonderful ways – in kindness, compassion, generosity, patience, perseverance, endurance, faithfulness and forgiveness. There was no limit to what his love would give or where it would go.

The love which imitates the love of Jesus for others is therefore a practical, down-to-earth kind of love. It’s a kindness and compassion kind of love, a self-forgetting kind of love. It’s a self-sacrificing kind of love even to the point, as shown by so many brave soldiers in two World Wars, of giving up their own lives so that others might be free - free to be good, kind, unselfish, generous and loving persons too.

It’s our love for others that keeps the great love of Jesus for people alive in our world today. An American journalist, watching Mother Teresa caring for a man with gangrene, remarked to her: "I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars." Mother Teresa replied: "Even I wouldn’t do it for that amount, but I do it for love of God."

True love is the opposite of selfishness. Selfishness confines us, keeps us shut in. It builds barriers, even walls, between us and others. What frees us is caring about others and caring for others, being friends, being sisters and brothers, being good neighbours. In short, it’s love alone that frees us from the cage of selfishness. A doctor, who has shared some of the deepest moments in the lives of many patients, says that people facing death don’t think about the degrees they’ve earned, the positions they’ve held, or how much wealth they’ve amassed. What really matters at the end is whom you have loved and who has loved you.

Love always demands the best from us, and brings out the best in us. Being loved gives us a surprising energy and courage. Love makes us fruitful, productive, strong and constant in doing good. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, famous for her work on the stages of dying, has written: "Love is the flame that warms our soul, energises our spirit and supplies passion to our lives. It’s our connection to God and to one another."

To love is to heal, both those who receive it and those who give it. To refuse to love is to die. To decide to love is to live. But love is a choice, not a feeling, and when we choose to be loving, caring, healing, helping, and forgiving persons, we experience well-being, contentment and happiness.

Freedom from selfishness and freedom to love and care for others, surely that’s what life is all about! There’s really no other way. So Jesus insists, strongly insists: "Love one another, as I have loved you" (John 13:34)

So, if we feel distant from God in Jesus, we only have to guess who has moved away from whom. Nothing we do stops him loving us. God in Jesus loves us as we are, not as we would like to be. As the old saying goes: "You don’t have to get good to get God, you have to get God to get good."

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John


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