Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chriostai Notes for Pentecost Sunday

Reflections from last week:

Reread John 17:11-19

How do we describe someone who is consecrated?

First Reading - Acts 2:1-11

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and wondered, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God”

1. Minutes before, the disciples were insignificant people cowering behind locked doors. Suddenly they were filled with power. They spoke with great courage and freedom
and in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them. … Devout Jews from every nation … gathered in a large crowd, but were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded … .
Using this quotation from Acts explain the birth of the Church. How did the Church “astound” the crowd on the first Pentecost? How does it “astound” now?

2. Did the Holy Spirit come only once in history, to the apostles and Mary in the upper room? Or do you see the Holy Spirit as dynamic and constant in every life? How were the disciples different after the Spirit’s arrival? Are you different when you are confident that the Spirit is with you? Explain.

3. Why do you think this first manifestation of the Holy Spirit was so distinctive?

Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13

3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free— and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

1. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”  What are your gifts and for what benefit were they given to you and those around you?

2. St. Alphonsus Rodriguez displayed different some different works. He was a Jesuit Brother (1533-1617) whose job was to answer the door of the Jesuit College in Majorca. He did this for forty years. Would his spiritual gift of service compare to that of St. Francis Xavier, who converted approximately 30,000 people or William Carey, who inspired the missionary movement of the 19th century? How?

3. What does the presence of such variety in the Church tell us about the nature of the Holy Spirit? 

4. Which of the activities of the Holy Spirit, as seen in these passages, is most meaningful to you? Why?

Gospel Reading - John 20:19-23

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

1. Jesus “breathed” on them. How does this relate to Genesis 2:7, “God formed man of dust from the
ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life?” What is the significance for you? How important is the Holy Spirit to you?

2. In his homily at Mass for the Feast of Pentecost with New Movements Pope Francis asks us the following questions:
Are we open to ‘God’s surprises’? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?

3. What do you think would have happened to the disciples if Jesus hadn’t appeared and the Holy Spirit hadn’t been given to them? 

4. How were the disciples transformed by this experience? 

5. Looking at this week’s Scripture passages, which manifestations of the Holy Spirit do you feel are normative and which do you feel are exceptional? 

7. What do the exceptional manifestations communicate about him? 

8. How do you feel about experiencing the Holy Spirit?

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