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Contents: Volume 2 - Pentecost Vigil & Sunday Year A
- May 28, 2023







1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP
2. -- Dennis Keller
3. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ
4. -- (Your reflection can be here!)


Pentecost during the day 2023

In today's Gospel according to John, Jesus suddenly appears and joins the disciples who were "behind locked doors for fear of the Jews". He says to these disciples (and us): “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Scripture and historical records tell us what Jesus sent them and future disciples to do. In fact, we know that he sent them (and us) to do greater things than even he had done on earth. That still sounds and feels like an overwhelming task, but is it?

I firmly believe that one person can make a huge difference in someone else's life. I have experienced that personally myself as the caregiver and the care receiver. Those mini-miracles have happened in small ways and in big ones as well. The accumulated "good works" from all disciples over the years do indeed add up and certainly fulfill Jesus's prophecy.

As believers, we know that it is the Holy Spirit who initiates and guides all of our good works and then brings them to fruition. We have been sent. Two questions remain: What gifts of the Holy Spirit will we ask for specifically as we go forth once again? How shall we pray so that the Holy Spirit will guide and support us and dissolve any of our fears into complete trust?

Come Holy Spirit!

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP
Southern Dominican Laity

Pentecost Vigil Mass May 27, 2023

Genesis 11:1-9 or Exodus 19:3-8 & 16-20 or Ezekiel 37:1-14
or Joel 3:1-5; Responsorial Psalm 104; 22-27; Gospel Acclamation
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful; John 7:37-39

The readings and four possible choices for the first reading, are so packed with the beauty of this fifty days after Easter celebration that we thought it important to offer these citations to you for your reading and meditation. The first four are each so profound, so uplifting, so hope giving, even in this our time. As violence, untruth, evil attacking nearly everyone, but especially the most vulnerable, we are desperate for some hope – the signs of the times are shouting danger, destruction, demoralization, disrespect, and damnation. In these readings, there is power, a counter to what ails us. These readings arise from the experiences of the Hebrews, early Christians, and Christians through the ages coming to our time as well. I particularly love the vision in Ezekiel. Who is there of any maturity who has not experienced being dry bones, scattered, confused, disassembled, hopeless? But then the piece from Joel is no slouch either – being an old man and yet the recipient of dreams: and youth being over-filled with visons of what can be, longing for inspiration and strength to pursue visions toward a more human and better future.

Pentecost Sunday May 28, 2023

Acts 2:1-11; Responsorial Psalm 104; 1st Corinthians 12:3-7
& 12-13; Sequence, Come Holy Spirit [Veni Creator Spiritus –
[the Latin is stronger than the English translation];
Gospel Acclamation “Come Holy Spirit”; John 20:19-23

Attempting to add contemporaneity to these readings is like adding fig leaves to Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling. That exercise can only obfuscate the wonder and magnificence of God’s impossible creation and God’s metaphorical finger touching the man of clay and inspiring (make that “breathing”, mixing metaphors of what is so beyond comprehension) this creation and causing life and creating humanity that retains its clay-ness but is fired and enlivened by a spark from God. (Yet another attempt at using metaphor.)

This celebration, this feast, puts the Cap on the Incarnation which morphed into suffering so that God’s Word Incarnated would be perfect in leading humanity to a more exalted, complete future. Then God provides humanity with a new law built on the guardrails of safety that is the Law Proclaimed by Moses. This Pentecost is the liturgical remembering of the Jews about Sinai. In the pagan world, the wonder of the law brought into humanity a new way of living. The way of the world then – and even now - seeks personal benefit from its efforts, caring for others because of what happens for themselves, lording over the powerless and demeaning womanhood. That law so celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, was the assent feast – the walking the ascent to Jerusalem, singing the psalms of ascent – to celebrate the great kindness, actually loving kindness, of the Lord’s presence through the law. That presence was revealed as a brilliant, warming fire that did not consume its fuel: that fire which enlivened and purified Moses named itself Yahweh – that is “I am with you.”

In the liturgies of our season of taking stock – Lent – we came to understand suffering is how we are made “perfect” to serve, to service the community of those called together – in Hebrew, Quahal which through the German becomes the word, Church. In service we learn about love which is the force that causes persons to think of other more than self.

What was/is broken about us – like the impossibility of being able to dialogue is slowly morphed into wholeness, holiness. Our conversations naturally are self-oriented, beginning as diatribe – me shouting over you because I can’t allow myself to be wrong. In diatribe we cannot hear or understand one another. If we view Christian Pentecost as the minimum to avoid damnation, we short-change ourselves. Pentecost is no mere proclamation of keeping us from self-destruction. This is not some band-aid slathered over gaping wounds in our characters, in our persons, and our relationships. This is no thing: this celebration of Pentecost is a remembering of the wind and the tongues of fire. (Here is a repetition of that burning bush.) This celebration brings within us a Person, a high-powered lawyer to defend us, lift us up from the flotsam and jetsam of stuff that captures our attention and seeks to enslave us. No, this Christian feast, built on the Jewish experience and understandings, is about a Person. What’s amazing is that Person is a third person in a Trinity of Oneness. What? Three making One? How can that be? Perhaps it is when we come to learn about love and experience love in human terms that we become open to learning that the unity of the Three Persons is a unity of unconditional love. That unconditional appreciation that is the start of loving binds three persons in such amazing unity that they are One. By the way, when we speak about eternal life, we are really talking about the Trinity, an essence and being that is forever. It is a Father (Dad) who creates all that is, it is the Word who is the revelation of what it means to live God’s life, a suffering that is crowned by rebirth in resurrection, and animated – think Ezekiel’s dry bones – by the Spirit that is most often thought of as Wisdom and the personification of unconditional relationships of giving and receiving. Oh, yeah, those of us who strive to love frequently forget that receiving is essential for real loving.

So, this weekend, and in the weeks yet to come, before we begin again with Advent, is about welcoming the Spirit sent forth from the Creator and the Revelatory Word. Let our growth in love for each other form the group of the called-together and encourage us to understand that Communion has its three effects – 1. Healing, a medicine for our person, 2. Nourishment to grow our person to reflect increasingly the Image and Likeness of God that is each of ours in God’s diverse and unique manner, and 3. A unifying agent that conjoins us into a community of the called-together along with those who have been called home. We are each and all through this meal that has been a Eucharistic sacrifice and is then offered as food and drink – through this communion meal we are made into the Body of Christ, a community of believers.

Happy Pentecost!
Dennis Keller (& Charlie)

Year ABC: Pentecost

“For fear of the Jews”

It is a simple historical fact that, as recently as 75 years ago, a democratic, civilised, European, predominantly Christian country murdered approximately 5 million of its inhabitants simply and solely because of their racial origin and religious identity. As anyone who has read “Mein Kampf” will know, that mass murder, one of the greatest humanity has ever known, was motivated entirely by “fear of the Jews”. The book is almost entirely composed of it.

I therefore think that one of the worst things anyone can do in life is deliberately to create an unnecessary fear. And so much of that is constantly done.

Politicians create fear of people they have never met.
Journalists create fear of events they know are unlikely.
Advertisers create fear of not having things they know to be unnecessary.
Lawyers create statutes to outlaw things which will never happen.
And, in my own profession, doctors create cures for which there are no diseases.

As a great prophet once said, (I can’t really do the voice, but you’ll recognize the words):

“Fear is the path to the dark side.
Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to suffering.”

Now whenever I hear the word ‘Fear’ mentioned, my first thought is almost always about something that I once did when I was about 18, in fact exactly 18. It is something that I did in the brief moment of fear and foolishness which I have never ceased to regret and always remember with shame. It happened in a moment and I hope to this day that it had no lasting effect on anyone other than myself, but I always remember it that it was my first moment of adulthood, my first moment of true guilt and my first glimpse into the true depths of my soul.

Allow me to set the scene: it is the last day of my last year at school. I am at the leaving party, a disco. I’m a sixth former the single sex boys school and the whole of my class is there. Also there are the leaving girls from the neighboring convent school: Yes! This is one of the very rare days when we actually get to meet GIRLS!

To this day, I remember exactly who I was talking to and even what I was saying to my friends in one corner of the room when, out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of a little knot of girls, all chattering together and laughing and looking just now and again in my direction. Something in my head tells me that a little plot is being hatched, a little practical joke to make fun of me. And I am on my guard.

A few minutes pass; there is more whispering and laughing in the little knot of girls and more malevolent looking glances cast in my direction.

Then, finally, one of the girls detaches from the little knot, a rather plain, slightly fat one. I had known her slightly and liked her and thought her nice. I am sorry that she is involved in playing this trick on me. Because I know it is a trick and I am on my guard. I have seen it coming and secretly I am delighted with my own cleverness.

I see her approach, and I see that she is not playing her part at all well. She is almost shaking with nerves and fear - I catch myself almost feeling sorry for her. Very hesitantly she comes up to me and asks me to dance.

Seeing an easy way to scotch their little trick, I simply refuse.

To this day I can see her face crumple. I can see her run away howling and humiliated before all her friends. There was no trick – that was all just a figment of my fear - what a friend of mine calls ‘FEAR - False Evidence Appearing Real’.
But in that moment, I am so surprised and shocked I don’t know what to do. All I know is that I have just done a horrible thing. With hindsight, I think of it as my first moment of adulthood – when I come to understand that my actions have consequences and can do harm as well as good.

I have never seen her again. I have never had the chance to apologize. Most probably, she has long since forgotten and has, I hope, gone on to health and happiness and the love of a better man. But I have not forgotten because it was my first proper understanding of what Sin truly is – Sin is love refused. It is to deny oneself the chance to love and to be loved. Usually, at least with me, this occurs because of fear – an unwillingness to give people the opportunity to be as good as they can be. And it arises from that worst of all the cynicisms that people I don’t really know mean me harm.

Having known myself what it is and what it feels like to be publicly humiliated, the realisation that I was capable of doing that to another human being filled me with shame – a shame which, I am glad to say, has never entirely left me. Some things even if and when forgiven, should never be forgotten.

It is a task of the Christian life, perhaps the most important one, (which may just be why Jesus keeps going on about it), to purge ourselves of fear of people we do not know and of things which most probably shall never be. And trust that every person that we shall ever meet is filled with the same God who we hope is present in our own hearts and who gives to us the freedom from all that might cause us fear.

Let us pray today for the grace to accept goodness, to be accept kindness, to accept love from just wherever it happens to come. Because all of the most evil things in life do not come from the actions of others; rather they come from within and it our fears and suspicions which make us unclean.

I am sorry that I cannot put it as neatly as Yoda. But in the words of the Lord, ‘Do not be afraid’.

Let us pray that we may leave this place filled with the confidence of God’s Love and be fearless in its distribution.

Paul O'Reilly SJ <>

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