Sunday Scriptures

Taking a Lesson from The News

by Father William Dulaney

AMONG THE HEADLINES and items that appeared in the pages of The New York Times, the New York Post, the Daily News, and The Tablet during the first few weeks of May, 2012, were the following:

• “NATO Soldier Killed”
• “Arrests and Violence at Overflowing Rally in Moscow”
• “200 Abusive State Caregivers Face Ax”
• “’Thugs Mug 80 Year Old”
• “D.E.A.’s Agents Join Hondurans in Drug Battles”
• “Slick Car Theft Ring Is Busted”
• “Cry of Justice” (an article about the trial of 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his henchmen)
• A picture of Cardinal George placing a flower atop a box containing the remains of 120 unborn children

Such news is disheartening.

As a refreshing contrast, within the same time frame, The Tablet featured articles or stories that were inspiring and uplifting.

• During the annual diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass, Bishop DiMarzio referred to the couples being honored as “the heroes and heroines of marriage” and thanked them for the good example they set during a time the institution of marriage is suffering.
• “Distinguished Parishioners” – At ceremonies in Brooklyn and Queens, Bishop DiMarzio presented medals to recipients acknowledging years of dedicated service to God’s people and to the Church.
• “Church in U.S. Is Called to Lead Revival” – Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, said Pope Benedict XVI wants the Catholic Church in America to be in the forefront of reviving Catholicism worldwide and lead the entire Church in the world in a revitalization effort – a great task, but one we have the determination and grace to carry out.

These headlines and articles in the papers remind us both of the weakened, sinful condition of our fallen human nature, and the difference good dedicated, determined people, individually and collectively, can make. Within this context the Responsorial Psalm for Pentecost “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth,” takes on a new meaning and encourages us to continue to be people of hope, believing we can make things better. Each time we sing or recite this refrain we affirm the world’s need and our need for the Holy Spirit.

We can contribute or be indifferent to the death, harm, destruction, and suffering we read about, or we can strive to be God’s instruments in renewing the face of the earth.

When we read the story of the first Pentecost in Acts and see the changes that came over the Apostles, we know the Spirit can empower us to proclaim, in our own tongues and through our lives the word and the mighty acts of God.

In Corinthians, Paul teaches there are different kinds of gifts, different forms of service, and different workings, but the same Spirit, and indicates “to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” It is given for the benefit of God’s people, for the benefit of the Church.

Once we are comfortable with the realization that God loves us, has called us, and can use us, imperfect as we may be, our next step is to discern just how we can use the gift and skills He has given us to build up His Kingdom and make the Gospel an effective force for good in the 21st century.

Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” are addressed to us today as much as they were addressed to the apostles and disciples of the first century.  They remind us it is Our Lord Himself who is commissioning us to evangelize, renew, and revitalize God’s people and the world He created.

The headlines and stories in the news stress the need for the Spirit to empower, motivate, and guide us.

Today’s Psalm response, “Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the earth,” is our faith-filled, hope-filled plea for the Spirit. Let us pray that when the Spirit comes we will recognize His presence in our lives as a call to action.[hr] Readings for Pentecost Sunday
First Reading – Acts 2:1-11
Psalms 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Second Reading – 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Gospel – John 20:19-23[hr] Father Dulaney serves as parochial vicar at St. Gregory the Great parish, Bellerose.