Tag Archives: pentecost

4 June, Sunday – Pentecostal Musings

4 June 2017

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Acts 2:1-11

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’

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1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

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John 20:19-23

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

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“Yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God”

What is the meaning of Pentecost? The word itself means ‘fifty’ in Greek. Originally a harvest feast in the Hebrew calendar, Pentecost is, for the Jewish people, the celebration of Moses receiving the Law on Mt Sinai. Much like how Passover coincides with Easter, the Jewish feast of Pentecost coincides with our Christian celebration of Pentecost. For us, Pentecost is the celebration of the founding of the early Church. In the upper room, the apostles along with “one hundred and twenty followers of Christ” (Acts 1:15) received the gift of the Holy Spirit and thus, the new ‘Israel of God’ (Gal 6:16) was born. The ‘Israel of God’ (Gal 6:16) in the upper room differed from the Israel of the Old Testament in its ability to embrace outwards. The Jewish people of the Old Testament were told that they were “a people consecrated to Yahweh”. They were instructed to “keep the commandments, the norms and laws”. They were not to assimilate into the pagan cultures of the lands they conquered. But at the celebration of the Christian Pentecost in the upper room, the Holy Spirit compelled the believers to speak of God’s miracles in a multitude of tongues. Hebrew was not the only language spoken. God’s word was proclaimed thus so that foreigners would understand it in their own language. In the upper room, God bestowed citizenship into His kingdom to all, regardless of language and culture. God would meet the people of his new church where they were. “All of us, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, have been baptized into one Spirit, to form one body and all of us have been given to drink from the one Spirit” (1 Cor 1:12).

We are so fractured today. We’re divided by every issue imaginable — race, gender, religion, political beliefs, education, sexual orientation, age. Even how we eat has become contentious. We’ve forgotten that long ago, in that upper room, one hundred and twenty people from all walks of life put aside their differences and worshipped as one body. They all received the same Holy Spirit. They were all given the same gift of faith. This Pentecost, let us embrace our diversity and celebrate the things that make us unique. Christ embraced all and welcomed all. Let’s honor that and give thanks for that, and the faith that unites us as Christians.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for greater inter-faith unity amongst all peoples, that there be mindfulness and respect for each other’s diversity.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for the things that unite us – family, faith, fellowship, friendship.

15 May, Sunday – Pentecost Every Day

15 May – Feast of Pentecost

The name “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word meaning “fiftieth.” Like Easter, it is tied to a Jewish feast. 49 days (7 weeks, or “a week of weeks”) after the second day of Passover, the Jews celebrated the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot).

Passover celebrates the freeing of the Jews from slavery; Shavuot celebrates their becoming God’s holy people by the gift and acceptance of the Law; and the counting of the days to Shavuot symbolises their yearning for the Law.

From a strictly practical point of view, Shavuot was a very good time for the Holy Spirit to come down and inspire the Apostles to preach to all nations because, being a pilgrimage festival, it was an occasion when Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims from many countries.

Symbolically, the parallel with the Jews is exact. We are freed from the slavery of death and sin by Easter; with the Apostles, we spend some time as toddlers under the tutelage of the risen Jesus; and when he has left, the Spirit comes down on us and we become a Church.

-Universalis

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Acts 2:1-11

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’

_____________________

1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

_____________________

John 20:19-23

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’

After saying this he breathed on them and said:

‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

_____________________

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

I am an adult convert to the Catholic faith, and I was baptised at a time when confirmation was held a year after baptism. I recall squirming nervously when my fellow catechumens swapped stories about the confirmation retreat – I imagined uncontrollable hysterics, a massive departure from the prosaic faith I thought I was being initiated into.

And because our God is a God of surprises and the Spirit is always working in us, eighteen years on, I now yearn deeply for the gift of tongues, just so that I can cross that liminal space between our good God and me in moments of worship and prayer, in humble recognition that language cannot adequately express my profound awe and gratitude for His abyssal love for me.

So what happened along the way? I was jolted from my routine faith by a personal tragedy, a devastating loss that showed God’s hand was, and is always, over me. Desiring Him intimately became a natural consequence of this newfound relationship. Gradually, I found my prayers moving from an intellectual acknowledgement of the presence of the divine, to interacting with God in them — meeting Him as a dear friend whom I can commiserate freely with and draw strength from, because He is in the midst of the panoply of all my relationships, struggles and dreams. And the Feast of Pentecost celebrates this reality — the mysterious movement of God in our lives through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that as persons sacramentalised in the Spirit, we too have been sent forth to “renew the face of the earth”: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”   May the Holy Spirit be before you, behind you and within you, as you animate today and every day that Christ lives, proclaiming ‘the mighty acts of God’.

(Today’s Oxygen by Heng San San)

Thanksgiving – Most loving Father, thank you for always meeting me where I am. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who inspires, enlivens and renews me. Thank you for gifting us with the Spirit so that we may always draw close to You.

Prayer – Lord, help me to be ever docile to the gentle promptings of the Spirit, so that I can always find God in all things. I pray earnestly and humbly for the gifts of the Spirit, so that these may grace me to do your Kingdom work with courage and candour, helping those whom you place in my life journey to strive always and only towards You.

9 May, Monday – Come, Holy Spirit

9 May

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Acts 19:1-8

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul made his way overland as far as Ephesus, where he found a number of disciples. When he asked, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ they answered, ‘No, we were never even told there was such a thing as a Holy Spirit.’ ‘Then how were you baptised?’ he asked. ‘With John’s baptism’ they replied. ‘John’s baptism’ said Paul ‘was a baptism of repentance; but he insisted that the people should believe in the one who was to come after him – in other words, Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, and the moment Paul had laid hands on them the Holy Spirit came down on them, and they began to speak with tongues and to prophesy. There were about twelve of these men.

He began by going to the synagogue, where he spoke out boldly and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. He did this for three months.

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John 16:29-33

His disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are speaking plainly and not using metaphors! Now we see that you know everything, and do not have to wait for questions to be put into words; because of this we believe that you came from God.’ Jesus answered them:

‘Do you believe at last?
Listen; the time will come – in fact it has come already –
when you will be scattered,
each going his own way and leaving me alone.
And yet I am not alone,
because the Father is with me.
I have told you all this
so that you may find peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but be brave: I have conquered the world.’

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… and leaving me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

Today we are reminded of our Baptism, it isn’t just that we are blessed with water or oils but truly the Holy Spirit. The receiving of the Holy Spirit at our Baptism… it isn’t just a ceremony where we are declared officially but, more than that. We are renewed. We are empowered. We have a mission. We have a purpose. We are part of a greater community. We will never be alone.

In our world today, we face many times with the feeling of loneliness. When we don’t have friends around us, we feel we are not loved. That we are not good enough or inadequate. That we are missing out on life. Indeed, it is easy to say God is always with us and we shouldn’t feel lonely. Maybe we can ask ourselves where is it we’re heading? Whether being with friends actually help us be less lonely or is the feelings simply temporary?

Christ understood His mission. He appointed twelve disciples. Yet, He eventually completed His mission alone, on the cross. But He was never alone as He was aware of His mission, given by His Father.

His life, our example. His death, our salvation. It isn’t that we will never feel lonely, but a knowing that whenever we do feel so, we are reminded of Him and our Mission.

As we approach Pentecost, we look forward to an empowerment, a renewal, a new stirring for “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world.” (Jn 16:33)

Let us conquer our fears, better our weaknesses, pardon sinners and love all. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, we pray for your guidance for a greater awareness of You in our lives. May we remain faithful and do Your will in our daily lives.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Holy Spirit, for the many gifts you have bestowed upon us. Thank You for being with us even when we fail to recognise you. Thank you for your protection.