When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
On Pentecost, Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem from many different cultures understood the disciples, as though they were speaking in all the pilgrims’ own languages. The disciples didn’t have a magical gift of multiple languages; the gift was understanding.
The barrier between people was dissolved; strangers could understand the Good News about Jesus. The old covenant was based on exclusion, since being faithful meant avoiding the “other,” whether Samaritan, Gerasene, Greek or Roman. The new covenant is inclusive; God’s forgiving love has no boundaries.
The Spirit showed strangers in Jerusalem what they needed to do. We need that even more today as terrorists try to provoke a religious war by scaring us into focusing on what divides us. God’s true gift is the invitation to become part of the one Body of Christ, who unites all people.
Would I welcome the gift of being understood? What would I say about Jesus?
—Fr. Tom Rochford, S.J. is moving to Denver where he will serve as chaplain and artist-in-residence at Regis Jesuit High School. He is an artist (primarily oil painting), photographer and videographer.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. And from your celestial home, shed a ray of light divine.
Come, Father of the poor. Come, source of all our store. Come within our hearts to shine.
You, of comforters the best. You my soul’s most welcome guest. Sweet refreshment here below.
In our labor, rest most sweet; Grateful coolness in the heat; Solace in the midst of woe.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew; wash the stains of guilt away.
Bend the stubborn heart and will; melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray.
Give us virtue’s sure reward. Give us your salvation, Lord. Give us joy that never ends. Amen! Alleluia!
—”Veni Sancte Spiritus,” traditional Pentecost hymn.
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