Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday word, 24 May 15

Confusion: It Can Be a Door
Pentecost (B) (24 May 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Today’s responsorial psalm was portions of Psalm 104. I’d like to reflect with you on that psalm. It is most appropriate for Pentecost, and it is not limited to it. I hope its limitless quality will find a home in us.

The psalm praises God as Creator of the world. We credit God as maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.1 The creating energy of God is so full and rich that it is God! We name God’s creating energy Holy Spirit.2 The psalm expresses God’s personal creative energy in words familiar: When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

God’s creating is no one-time event. God creates each moment each and everything: every creature; every person. The psalm crisply surveys creation—from God’s being to the universe, to winds, to nature, to animals and humans constantly created by God. Under God’s providence and within the world ever created by God, people go out to their work, to their labor till evening falls.3

Noting living creatures the psalmist praised God: you open your hand…they are filled with good things. Take away your spirit4 they perish. God’s spirit creates moment by moment. God locates humans in a network of created gifts: various created things nourish bodies, gladden and sustain hearts, and aid our work.5

God creates humans to share God’s likeness.6 Jesus revealed that clearly and in action. He befriended others, especially those no one would.7 Jesus, Lord and Master, called his disciples in every age his friends.8 Because friends share who they are and what they possess, Jesus did the same. Our share in Jesus is his promised spirit,9 who fulfills Psalm 104 in an ongoing way.

The Sequence echoed the psalm. The Sequence makes deeply personal and accessible the creative action of Jesus’ spirit within us and for us. The Sequence is our voice to call on Holy Spirit as we need to be recreated each moment: to comfort and refresh us; to be our rest and our solace; to light our ways; to free us to befriend Jesus and others; to heal, strengthen, cleanse, guide.

Jesus bestows his Holy Spirit on all peoples—yes, even those who do not know Jesus. If that astonishes, puzzles or makes us curious, then we stand a bit closer to the first Pentecost. The Jews staying in Jerusalem had migrated to it from all parts of the Roman empire. Their native languages did not hinder their life and travel in the empire. Greek and Aramaic were common languages to Jews; they allowed them to communicate freely. The miracle at the first Pentecost was not about translation so the Jews understand about Jesus. The miracle was this: they enjoyed personal access to Jesus in and by his Holy Spirit. It registered as understanding: those who had relocated to Jerusalem or were visiting for the feast understood the speech of Galileans as they spoke their Galilean language—not the Greek or Aramaic languages it would have been normal for the apostles to have spoken to visitors and new residents.

That they were confused lets us take heart when you and I are confused. Someone may be confused when choosing her vocation. Among other things her confusion may mean Holy Spirit is near at hand.Welcoming Holy Spirit to guide her choice is wise action. Another may be confused at Jesus’ invitations or unsettled by the mission of the church or our diocesan Pastoral Planning Process. Among other things his confusion may mean Holy Spirit is near at hand. Welcoming Holy Spirit to warm his heart and free his mind is wise action.

Welcoming Holy Spirit in our personal experiences is always wise. It is also wise because Catholics have “become the most racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse religion in the nation.”10 Holy Spirit recreates each of us and all together to share in all Jesus is and does.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the apostles and those who heard them to present you to Jesus. 
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for empowering you with his Spirit to make him known to the world.
  • Ask him for grace to welcome his Spirit who recreates us each moment as Jesus’ friends. As his friends we extend his mission where we live, work and play.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. By it we praise and petition God; and we ask to be forgiven as we forgive. Those hallmarks of Catholic living are equally Jesus’ Spirit enlivening and recreating us each moment.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. The Nicene Creed.
  2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 253, 258.
  3. Psalm 104.23.
  4. Breath, spirit, wind translate the same Hebrew word.
  5. Psalm 104.14-15.
  6. Genesis 1.26.
  7. See Matthew 11.19 || Luke 7.34.
  8. Luke 12.4, and especially John 15.13-15.
  9. John 14.15-16:13.
  10. Mark M. Gray, “Your Average American Catholic: a Model Citizen for a Diverse Church, AMERICA, 18 May 2015, p. 16, print edition.


Wiki-images:  Pentecost statue by Kala Nag CC BY-SA 3.0 Pentecost—stained glass window by Kunstwerk von Max Rüedi CC BY-SA 3.0 CH

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