3 and 4 June 2017 Pentecost Sunday A Homily
Second Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
The feast of Pentecost is replete with striking images.
There is a “noise like a strong driving wind……tongues as of fire….(they) were all filled with the Holy Spirit and…….spoke in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim…”
The “different tongues” aspect causes confusion in the listeners. Jerusalem at this time is full of “devout Judeans from every nation…”
How is it possible they ask that each understands the “different tongues” because each person hears “in his own language.”
One of the first gifts of the Spirit to the church is the inclusion of all people from all parts of the world in hearing and responding to the proclamation of the Good News.
We sometimes react to events coming from a position of “scarcity”.
The Gospel comes to us from a position of grace, abundance and fullness.
The selection from the Acts of the Apostles today does not include the ambiguity of the response of some of the people witnessing this event.
Two verses (twelve and thirteen) express the “confusion, astonishment and amazement” that this confluence of wind, fire and “speaking” cause.
“They were all astounded and bewildered and said to one another, “What does this mean?” But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.”
In other words the “sweetness” of drinking too much new wine made them drunk.
Some of the people observing the work of the Spirit could not trust that it was the Spirit that helped these people understand the “proclamation of the Good News.”
Coming from a position of “scarcity” of mercy and tolerance these observers concluded the people were drunk.
In the Second Reading, from the Second Letter to the Corinthians, we are given an idea of how this embrace of the “fullness” of the Spirit’s gifts works in the community.
The “gifts” Paul tells us are different but the come from the same Spirit.
The “gifts” are for one purpose only: service of God and others..
The “gifts” are produced and given by the Spirit to everyone.
The “gifts” are given for “some benefit”.
We might not have been give the “gift” we wished for or worked for or prayed for.
Whatever gift or gifts we are given are for “some benefit”.
The “benefit” is not given “for” me but “to” me.
The “benefit” is given for service to others, not for service to me.
Paul naturally falls back upon the image of the unity of the body, our bodies, to explain how the community is called to function by the Spirit.
“…all the parts of the body, though many are one body….”
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”
The Gospel reminds us of one of two gifts of the Spirit that our “drinking of the Spirit” give to us.
First of all the gift Jesús was given and gives to us through the Spirit is the gift of peace.
The “disciples” after the death of Jesús are afraid.
Jesús’ first words to the disciples are “Peace be with you.”
Jesús repeats these words after showing them his hands and his side.
Jesús then gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to the disciples with a very distinct “gift” and “mission” in mind.
“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,and whose sins you retain are retained.”
The mission of mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, faith and steadfast love is given to the church so that we may be
Body of Christ.