June 12, 2011
Pentecost Sunday Readings: Acts 2:1-11;
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23
As I write this pastor message we are expecting extraordinary thunder storms during the month of June. I have always been amazed and a little fearful of the power and beauty of thunder and lightning. I realize that science is able to explain this phenomenon, but it reminds us of the unseen power that is present in the universe and world that we are a part of. For the ancient world, a thunderstorm was a powerful reminder of the Divine Power of God. Psalm 29 tracks a thunderstorm traveling through the country as the "voice of the Lord" thundering.
Today's feast of Pentecost reminds us of the Power of God that is alive in the world around us and that is present in our lives through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Jewish feast of Pentecost was also called the feast of weeks because it landed seven weeks, or fifty days, after Passover. It originally was the feast of the first harvest of that which was planted during the time of Passover. For the Church it became the feast of the New Harvest for which the Holy Spirit is responsible.
On the night of Pentecost we find the Eleven Apostles still gathered in the upper room afraid and unwilling or unable to begin the mission they were sent to accomplish. The Lord sent them forth from the Ascension to continue to baptize and teach, but they remained trapped in their indecision and fear until the Holy Spirit was made manifest to them. Like their own personal thunderstorm, suddenly there came from the sky "A noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were" (Acts 2:1). The Hebrew word for Soul, nephesh, literally means wind and it symbolized the breath of life that was breathed into each one of them. Today's Gospel has this gift of the Holy Spirit given on the night of the Resurrection as Jesus "breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit"(20:22). The breath of God came to give new life to the Apostles and through them to us the Church.
For us who live in Southern California fire is a very powerful symbol. We have all witnessed the destructive force of fires burning through our hills and mountains destroying all in its path. Fire also gives light, gives comfort, purifies food and warms us on cold winter nights. On the night of Pentecost tongues of as of fire appeared to those gathered in the upper room. Just as the power of lightning strikes the earth, so they were struck with the power of the Holy Spirit, giving them the "jump start" they needed to leave the upper room.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit -- wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord -- all can be represented as tongues of fire descending upon the Apostles. This is the power that has also been given to us, first through our Sacrament of Baptism, and later as we are sealed with the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Finally the Holy Spirit was manifested to the world on the Night of Pentecost through the gift of multiplication of languages. I remember as a child my great-grandmother who only spoke Italian. Somehow she was able to communicate to us without us understanding her words. She spoke a clearer language, the language of love. Today at Mary Star of the Sea Parish we will be gathering at 10:30 am for one of the Liturgies that make Mary Star the great parish that it is. We have cancelled all of our special language Masses so we can come together in the language of God's love and celebrate His presence amongst us. None of us will understand all of the words spoken at this Mass as we will use English, Spanish, Croatian, Italian and Tagalog. All of us will be able to understand God's love being spoken to us through the manifestation of the Spirit alive in our hearts. The Love of God in the Person of the Holy Spirit is able to break all barriers and bring unity from the chaos of our world. When we allow the power of the Holy Spirit to reign in our lives, the breath and fire of God will wipe away all the chaos in our lives and fill us with His unity and peace.
ó During the 10:30 am Mass we will also be recognizing five of our parishioners for their generosity and dedication to serving our parish community. Congratulations to them! See the next page for their biographies!
ó I am looking forward to our pilgrimage to Croatia. There is still space if you wish to join us. For our parishioners who will be in Croatia during these days we look forward to meeting you in your home towns. Our itinerary will be: Aug. 6 Dubrovnik, Aug. 7 Medugorje, Aug. 8 & 9 Split, Aug. 10 & 11 Komiza, Aug. 12 & 13 Zadar, Aug. 14 & 15 Zagreb with the Velike Gospe in Marija Bistrica. If you will be able to host or visit us while you are in Croatia please call the office so we can make arrangements.
Rev John F. Provenza