Sunday Scriptures

Inspired by the Spirit, Renew the Face of the Earth

by Sister Patricia Berliner, C.S.J.

COME, O HOLY Spirit, Come.
The entrance antiphon for this week’s readings is: “The  love of God has been poured into our hearts by God’s spirit living in us.”
In the first reading from the  Acts of the Apostles, we learn that when the time for  Pentecost was fulfilled, they  were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from  the sky a noise like a mighty wind, and it filled the entire house  where  they were.
Then we hear the words of the Responsorial Psalm, “Lord, Send out your spirit and renew  the face  of the  earth.”
The second reading from Corinthians reminds us that as a body is one, though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one  body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we  were  all baptized into one body, whether Jews or  Greeks, slaves or free persons, and were all given to drink of one Spirit.
This prepares us for John’s Gospel, which takes us into a small room with the Apostles.
On the evening of the first day of  the  week,  Jesus came to  the  room  where the Apostles  were hiding behind locked doors. He showed them His wounds and called peace upon them and breathed into them the power to forgive sin.
They, the sinners, the cowards, the  lost,  the  frightened;   they, the big talkers, now rendered speechless and humbled, they, on this day of Pentecost and after many perplexing, mind-boggling, soul-searching days, finally began to understand the message and, in new-found freedom and courage, went forth to proclaim by their lives what God had done and continues to do for those who believe.
After Jesus’ crucification and death, many who had followed Him and proclaimed their loyalty to Him, fled. Few remained and these, too, were frightened, confused,  exhausted  and lost.  They yearned  for light, comfort and rest.  They sought guidance, signs that God had not abandoned them, though they might have thought to abandon Him. They wondered, perhaps, if they were victims of a cruel joke. And they prayed for God’s  Spirit to come upon them, sustain them, save them from their wavering,  their need to be reassured.
On the evening of  the first day  of the week,  on the dawn of their new life, behind locked doors, the followers of Jesus waited, fearful of the outcome, fearful of trusting of what they had  seen and heard, fearful of proclaiming what seemed impossible  and absurd.
Chosen Ones
Then Jesus, suddenly and unexpectedly, was with them, not chastizing, but embracing them, wishing them peace, showing them His pierced side and hands… the  crucible,  the cost of  believing. He told them that they were chosen, as he had been, to use the power of their own experience to bring others to God, to heal, redeem and liberate all who were still living in darkness.
The big  talkers  were perplexed,  finally  rendered silent, chastened, and perhaps, frightened, by the truth but many were emboldened to  go out and spread the good, unimaginable news. Fear turned to courage; wounds, physical and emotional, were healed; bonds were released and the challenge was issued.
Many who were in Jerusalem for the Holy Days believed. By following Jesus, they received gifts that would change not only their lives, but “the  face of the earth.”
What does it mean, this mandate  to  renew  the  face of the earth? How can we, sinners, forgive ourselves? How dare we offer forgiveness, when we have sinned against God and God’s creation? Will the power of God’s love, overcome our fear and shame? If we recognize that each of us is all of us, then through faith in the power of our oneness, we become more than we are.
On the day of Pentecost,  the cacophony of languages, beliefs,  dreams, hopes, fears, healing, the oneness of the recognition of God’s love opened the floodgates and, as they walked through, what had seemed terrifying and impossible became inviting.
Come! Look! Learn! Listen, go beneath the surface. The love  of God has been poured out. Go, drink freely. And then, knowing the goodness of God, claim it  and proclaim it to all the nations.