Pentecost B

From Fr. Tony Kadavil:

Pentecost  literally  means  50th.  It  is  a  feast  celebrated  on  the  50th   day  after  the Passover feast by the Jews and a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus by the Christians. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post- harvest thanksgiving feast.   Later it was celebrated to remember God’s covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai

The event

On the day of Pentecost 1) The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and Blessed Virgin Mary as fiery tongues. 2) The frightened apostles were transformed into fiery preachers and evangelizers by a special anointing of the Holy Spirit. 3) The audience experienced a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit with the gift of tongues, hearing Peter speaking in their languages. 4) The early Christians became powerful witnesses and brave martyrs for faith.

The role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life

1) As an indwelling God, He makes us His Living Temples (I Cor 3:16). 2) As a strengthening God, He strengthens us in our fight against temptations and in our mission  of  bearing  witness  to  Christ  by  transparent  Christian  lives.  3)  As  a sanctifying God, He makes us holy through the sacraments: a) He makes us children of God and heirs of heaven through Baptism. b) He makes us temples of God, warriors and defenders of faith, through Confirmation. c) He enables us to be reconciled to God by pardoning our sins through Reconciliation. d) He gives us spiritual nourishment via the Holy Eucharist by converting bread and wine into Jesus body and blood through Epiclesis. 4) As a teaching and guiding God, He clarifies and constantly reminds us of Christs teachings. 5) As a listening and talking God, He listens to our prayers and enables us to pray, and He speaks to us through the Bible. 6) As a giver of gifts, He gives us His gifts, fruits and charisms.

Life Messages

We need to permit the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives:

1) By constantly remembering His holy presence, and behaving well.

2) By praying for His daily anointing so that we may fight against our temptations and control our evil tendencies, evil habits and addictions.

3) By asking His daily assistance to pray well, by listening to God through meditative reading of te Bible and by talking to Him.

4) By asking the help of the Holy Spirit to do good to others and to be                                                                                                                           reconciled to
God and others every day.

THE FEAST OF PENTECOST (MAY 27, 2012) JOHN 20: 19-23

First Reading: Acts 2: 1-11
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7
Gospel: John 20: 19-23


1) " Well,  Chippie  doesn’t  sing  much  anym o r e.”  It happened in Galveston,  TX. A woman was cleaning the bottom of the cage of her parrot Chippie with the canister vacuum cleaner. She was not using an attachment on the tube. When the telephone rang, she turned her head to pick it up, continuing to vacuum the cage as she said, "Hello," into the phone. Then she heard the horrible noise of Chippie being sucked into the vacuum. Immediately she put down the phone, ripped  open  the vacuum bag, and found Chippie in there, stunned but still alive. Since the bird was covered with dust and dirt, she grabbed it, ran it into the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held the bird under the water to clean it off. When she finished that, she saw the hair dryer on the bathroom sink. She turned it on and held the bird in front of the blast of hot  air  to  dry  him  off.  A  few weeks  later,  a  reporter  from  the  newspaper  that originally published the story went out to the house to  ask the woman, "Hows Chippie doing now?" She said, “He just sort of sits and stares." Today’s gospel tells us that it was what happened to the apostles. They all were traumatized by the arrest and crucifixion of their master and bewildered by his post-resurrection appearances and his command to prepare for the coming of his  Holy Spirit.                                                                                                                          Many of us can identify with Chippie and the apostles. Life has sucked us up, thrown cold water on us, and blown us away. Somewhere in the trauma, we have lost our song. Hence, we, too, need the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit to keep us singing songs of Christian witnessing through agape love.

2) Lower your bucket-- t ast e  and  see”:   More than a century ago, a great sailing ship was stranded off the coast of South America.  Week after week the ship lay there in the still waters with not a hint of a breeze.  The captain was desperate; the crew was dying of thirst.  And then, on the far horizon, a steamship appeared, heading directly toward them.   As it drew near, the captain called out, "We need  water!   Give us water!"  The steamship replied, "Lower your buckets where you are."   The captain was furious at this cavalier response but called out again,  "Please, give us water." But the steamer gave the same reply, "Lower your buckets where you are!" And with that they sailed away!  The captain was beside himself with anger and despair, and he went below.   But a little later, when no one was  looking, a yeoman lowered a bucket into the sea and then tasted what he brought up: It was perfectly sweet, fresh water!  For you see, the ship was just out of sight of the mouth of the Amazon.  And for all those weeks they had been sitting right on  top of all the fresh water they needed!  What we are really seeking is already inside us, waiting to be discovered,

waiting to be embraced: the Holy Spirit of  God who has been living within us from the first second of our life.   The Holy Spirit is saying to us at this very moment, "Lower your buckets where you are.  Taste and see!" from deep in our heart:  Come, Holy Spirit! Fill our hearts, and set us on fire! Amen.


The Jewish Pentecost: Both the Jews and the Christians now celebrate Pentecost. Along with the Feast of the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost was one of the major feasts of the Jews.  During these three great Jewish festivals, every male Jew living within twenty miles of Jerusalem was legally bound to go to Jerusalem to participate in the feast.  The word Pentecost is Greek for pentecostes which means “fiftieth.” The feast received this name because it was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of the Passover. Another name for the Jewish Pentecost is Shebuot or "The Feast of Weeks." It was originally a day of thanksgiving celebrated seven weeks after the beginning of the harvesting for the completion of the harvest.  During Passover, the first omer (a Hebrew measure of about a bushel), of barley was offered to God.  At Pentecost, two loaves of bread were offered in gratitude for the harvest.  Later, the Jews added to the Feast of Pentecost the element of Yahweh’s covenant with Noah, which was made fifty days after the great deluge.  Still later, this feast   became an occasion to thank God for His Sinaitic covenant with Moses, which occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt.

The Christian Pentecost: Pentecost marks the end and the goal of the Easter season. For Christians, it  is a  memorial of the  day the  Holy  Spirit descended upon  the apostles and the Virgin Mary in the form of fiery tongues, an event that took place fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus.  The Paschal mystery of the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of Jesus is completed in the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father at the request of the Son upon his disciples. The feast also commemorates the official inauguration of the Christian Church by St. Peter’s apostolic  preaching,   which   resulted  in   the   conversion  of   3000   Jews  to   the Christian faith.  Pentecost is thus the official birthday of the Church. But This Rock Magazine reports that there are now 34,000 Protestant denominations which means, on the average, more than sixty-nine new denominations have sprung up every year since the beginning of the Reformation in 1517.  So whose birthday is it anyway? You could say, Pentecost is the birthday of the Church Jesus established nearly 2,000 years ago. Today’s Scripture readings remind us that Pentecost is an event of both the past and the present.  The main theme of todays readings is that the gift of the Holy Spirit is something to be shared with others.  That is, the readings remind us that the gift of the Holy Spirit moves its recipients to action and inspires them to share this gift with others.

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1-11) describes in detail the miraculous transformation that took place during the first Pentecost, thus fulfilling Jesus promise to his apostles.   There was first a noise like a strong, driving wind.” Then there were tongues as of fire resting on the disciples, and each of them was filled with the Holy Spirit.   The first manifestation of their reception of the Holy Spirit came when the apostles rushed out to the street and began to proclaim the

good news of Jesus, and everyone there  (regardless of their many different native languages), was able to understand them in his own tongue.” The Jews in the crowds came from sixteen different geographical regions.   The miracle of tongues on Pentecost thus reverses the confusion of tongues wrought by God at the Tower of Babel, as described in Genesis 11.  Later, the Acts of the Apostles describes how the Holy Spirit empowered the early Christians to bear witness to Christ by their sharing love and strong faith.  This "anointing by the Holy Spirit also strengthened the early Christian martyrs during the period of brutal persecution that followed.

In the second reading (I Cor 12:3-7, 12-13), St. Paul explains how the sharing of the various  spiritual  gifts  of  the  Holy  Spirit  enriches  the  Church.   He  refers  to  the varieties of gifts given to the church as coming from the same Spirit who activates all of them in Christians for the common good. They are described as the gifts, fruits and charisms of the Spirit.  They may take different forms like prophecy, teaching, administration, acts of charity, healing and speaking in tongues, and they may reside in different persons like apostles, prophets, teachers, healers and so on.  Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit in his Letter to the Galatians What the Spirit brings is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22).  He continues, Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit” (5:25).  Paul insists that these spiritual gifts are to be used in the present time for the benefit of others, for the common good and for the building up of the body of Christ.

 T o day’ s  g o spel  relates how the risen Jesus gave his apostles a foretaste of Pentecost on the evening of Easter Sunday by appearing to them  and entrusting to them the continuance of the mission given him by his heavenly Father.  He then empowered them to do so  by breathing upon them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  On the day of Pentecost, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send the Advocate or Paraclete. The gift of the Spirit would also enable them to fulfill Jesus commission  to preach the gospel to all nations.  Today’s gospel passage tells us how Jesus, at the same time, gave to the Apostles the power and authority to forgive sins.  “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”  These wonderful words which bind together inseparably the presence of the Holy Spirit and the gift of forgiveness are referred to directly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  But they have a much wider meaning.  Those  words indicate the power we are all given of being the agents of forgiveness in  the world of today, which is often fiercely judgmental and vengeful.

Exegetical Notes

Role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and of the Church: How beautiful is the  thought  that  the  Holy  Spirit  lives  within  us!     Saint  Paul  reminds  the Corinthian community of this fact when he asks, "Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).  It is the Holy Spirit who develops our intimacy with God. "God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:6).  "God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). "No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:3).  Moreover, we know that it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to pray (Romans 8:26).  By the power of the Spirit, we also know the

Lord Jesus through his Church.  Pentecost Sunday is the birth date of the Church.  It is the Holy Spirit who enlivens, enlightens, guides, and sanctifies the Church. The Psalm refrain for this Sunday says it so well, Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”  We know Jesus through the Sacramental Mysteries of the Church, and Holy Spirit is at the heart of the sacramental life of the Church.  Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders are the Sacramental Mysteries through which people receive the seal of the Holy Spirit.  It would be impossible for us to receive Jesus in the Eucharist without the descent of the Holy Spirit at the Epiclesis of the Divine Liturgy.  Even the forgiveness of sins comes through the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-23). The  Holy  Spirit  both  confirmed  the  apostles  in  Holy  Orders  as  priests  and empowered them to forgive sins by His power, a work which He continues today in each of our priests.

Life Messages

1)  We  need  to  permit  the  Holy  Spirit  to  direct  our lives:   a)  By  constantly remembering and appreciating His Holy Presence within us, especially through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.  b) By fortifying ourselves with the help of the Spirit against all types of temptations. c) By seeking the assistance of the Spirit in our  thoughts,  words,  and  deeds,  and  in  the breaking  of our  evil  habits.   d)  By listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through the Bible and through the good counsel of others e) By fervently praying for the gifts, fruits and charisms of the  Holy  Spirit.  f)  By  asking  the  Holy  Spirit  to  renew  our  lives  through  a  fresh anointing. g)  By  living  our  lives  in  the  Holy  Spirit,  with  His  help,  as  lives  of commitment, of sacrifice, and of joy.   We  are  called to  love as Jesus loved, not counting the cost. As Saint Paul exhorts us, "Walk by the Spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16,

2) We need to cultivate the spirit of forgiveness.  The feast of the Pentecost offers us the chance of looking at the role which forgiveness should play in our dealings with others.  Thus, we are challenged to examine our sense of compassion, patience, tolerance and magnanimity.  Learning to forgive is a lifelong task, but the Holy Spirit is with us to make us agents of forgiveness.   If we are prepared on this day of Pentecost  to  receive  the  Holy  Spirit into  our  lives,  we  can  have confidence  that our lives will be marked by the Spirit of forgiveness.

2) We need to observe Pentecost every day.  "It will always be Pentecost in the church," affirmed Oscar Romero, Archbishop of El Salvador, on Pentecost Sunday
1978, "provided the church lets the beauty of the Holy Spirit shine forth from her countenance.  When the church ceases to let her strength rest on the power from above which Christ promised her and which he gave her on that day, and when the church leans rather on the weak forces of the power or wealth of this earth, then the church ceases to be newsworthy.  The church will be fair to see, perennially young, attractive in every age, as long as she is faithful to the Spirit that floods her and she reflects that Spirit through her communities, through her pastors, through her very

life" (The Violence of Love, The Plough Pub.  Co., Farmington, PA: 1998).  Archbishop Romero’s declaration reminds us -- as does todays Gospel -- that Pentecost is not just one day, but every day.  Without breath, there is no life.  Without the Spirit, the church is a field of dry, dead bones.  Fulton J. Sheen once said about the Church, "Even though we are God's chosen people, we often behave more like God's frozen people--frozen in our prayer life, frozen in the way we relate with one another, frozen in the way we celebrate our faith."  Today is a great day to ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle in us the spirit of new life and enthusiasm, the fire of God's love.  Let us repeat Cardinal Newman’s favorite little prayer, Come Holy Spirit:

“Come Holy Spirit Make our ears to hear Make our eyes to see
Make our mouths to speak
Make our hearts to seek
Make our hands to reach out
And touch the world with your love. AMEN.”


a) The gift of wisdom:  Four-year-old Amanda was taken to the doctor’s office with a fever.  The doctor looked in her ears and asked, "Who’s in there?  Donald Duck?" She said, "No."  He looked in her open mouth, "Whos in there?  Mickey Mouse?" Again she said, "No."  He put his stethoscope on her heart and asked, "Who’s in there? Barney?" Amanda replied, "No, Jesus is in my heart.  Barney is in the pocket of my underwear."

b)The gift of understanding: A kindergarten teacher was observing her classroom of children while they drew pictures.  She would occasionally walk around to see each child's artwork.  As she came to one little girl who was working diligently, she asked what the drawing was. The girl replied, "I'm drawing God." The teacher paused and said, "But no one knows what God looks like." Without missing a beat or looking up from her drawing, the girl replied, "They will in a minute."

c) The gift of counsel: Just after receiving his driver’s license, a Lutheran minister’s son wanted to talk about using the family car.  “Ill make a deal with you,” his father said.  “Bring your grades up, read your Bible more often, and get a haircut.  Then you may use the car once or twice a week. A month later the question came up again.  Son,” the father said, “Im proud of you.   I see you studying hard and reading your Bible every day.  But you didn’t get a haircut.”  After a moment’s pause, the son replied, “Yeah, I’ve thought about that.  But Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair.”  True,’ the father replied, but maybe you noticed that they walked wherever they went?”

d) The gift of fortitude:  A mother refused to permit her little boy to go for a picnic with his classmates.  On the day of the picnic, however, she changed her mind and gave  him  permission.   But  he  sighed  and confessed, "It's  too  late  Mummy, I've already prayed for rain on the school picnic day!"

e) The gift of knowledge:  The story is told of a man who went to the priest and said, "Father, I want you to say a Mass for my dog." The priest was indignant.  "What do you mean, say a Mass for your dog?" "It's my pet dog," said the man.  "I loved that dog and I'd like you to offer a Mass for him." "We don't offer Masses for dogs here," the priest said.  "You might try the denomination down the street.  Ask them if they have a service for you." As the man was leaving, he said to the priest, "I really loved that dog.  I was planning to give a five thousand-dollar stipend for the Mass." And the priest said, "Wait a minute!  Why didn’t tell me that your dog was Catholic?!"

f) The gift of piety: The Rabbi, the Cantor and one member of the congregation were the only ones present for the service.  The Rabbi intoned, "Adonai, before you I am as nothing."  The Cantor intoned, "Adonai, before you I am less than nothing."  The member of the congregation intoned, "Adonai, I too am nothing and less than nothing."  The Cantor looked at the rabbi, and gestured toward the member of the congregation. "Look who thinks he's nothing!"

g) The gift of fear of God: Do not ride in automobiles: they are responsible for 20% of fatal accidents. Do not stay home: 1% of all accidents occur in home.  Do not walk on the streets or sidewalks: 14% of all accidents occur at such times.  Do not travel by air, rail, or water: 16% of all accidents happen on planes, trains or boats.  Only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders.  Hence, the safest place for you to be at any time is at church!!!

Additional Anecdotes
1)   Treasure within: An old beggar lay on his deathbed.  His last words were to his youngest son who had been his constant companion during his begging trips.  Dear son," he said, “I have nothing to give you except a cotton bag and a dirty bronze bowl which I got in my younger days from the junk yard of a rich lady.”  After his father’s  death,  the  boy  continued  begging,  using  the  bowl  his  father  had given him. One  day  a  gold  merchant  dropped  a  coin  in  the  boy’s  bowl  and  he  was surprised to hear a familiar clinking sound. “Let me check your bowl,” the merchant said. To  his  great  surprise,  he  found  that  the  beggar’s  bowl  was  made  of  pure gold. My dear young man," he said, why do you waste your time begging?  You are a rich man.  That bowl of yours is worth at least thirty thousand dollars.”  We Christians are often like this beggar boy who failed to recognize and appreciate the value of his bowl.  We fail to appreciate the infinite worth of the Holy Spirit living within each of us, sharing His gifts and fruits and charisms with us.  On this major feast day we are invited to experience and appreciate the transforming, sanctifying and  strengthening  presence  of  the  Holy  Spirit  within  us.  This  is  also  a  day  to renew the promises made to God during our Baptism and Confirmation, to profess our faith, and practice it.

2) Why are the Swiss watches gone? If in 1968 someone had asked which country would dominate watch making in the 1990s, most people would have said Switzerland. This is because Switzerland had dominated the world of watch making for the previous sixty years. They led the search for new ways to manufacture better

and  more  durable  watch  parts.   They  developed     the     best     waterproofing techniques. In fact, in 1968 the Swiss made 65% of all watches sold in the world, and laid claim to 90% of the profits. However, by 1980 in Switzerland, watchmakers had been laid off by the thousands and the Swiss controlled a paltry 10% of the watch market. Why? The Swiss had ignored an important new development, the Quartz Movement. Ironically a Swiss invented the Quartz movement, but it was rejected because it had no mainspring or knob. It was too much of a paradigm shift for them to embrace. It was too new and too strange. Today's text from Acts tells of a powerful paradigm shift in the people of God, of "God's deeds of power," the miraculous activities that accompanied the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.

3) Speaking the same language: In 1887, Dr. Ludwig Zamenhof, a Polish linguist, constructed a new language that could be shared by people throughout the world. The artificial language Dr. Zamenhof created is called Esperanto, "the language of hope."  The name signifies hope for humankind that a common language might heal the  divisions  that  exist  among  the  different  peoples  of  the  earth.  The  feast  of Pentecost is the Church's celebration of her unity and universality in the Holy Spirit, and so some of the readings used express this in terms of language.  Dr. Zamenhof's invention of a universal language like Esperanto has been followed by the establishment of the United Nations Assembly, by Summit meetings of the heads of nations, by cultural exchanges and by the revival of the Olympic Games.   But Pentecost is more than a work of human creation, more than a work of art and music. Pentecost is a new outpouring of God's Spirit into our hearts to kindle in us the fire of his love. (Albert Cylwicki in 'His Word Resounds')

4)  All Mr. Yates needed was suddenly provided. During the Great Depression a man by the name of Yates owned a sheep ranch in West Texas. Day by day he grazed his sheep and wondered how he was going to pay his bills. It was in the middle of the Depression and even government subsidies would not give him enough income to break even. Then one day an oil company came to town. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well on Mr. Yates' land. At 1,115 feet they struck oil to the tune of
80,000 barrels a day. All Mr. Yates needed was suddenly  provided. When I read that
old story, one that Bill Bright tells, I wondered if it might be a parable of our spiritual life. All I have needed God's hands have provided,” says the hymn. The power we need to become what God intended us to be is already in our souls.

5) High tide of the Holy Spirit: A ship strayed off course near San Diego some years back. It became stuck in a reef at low tide. Twelve tugboats were unsuccessful in their attempts to budge it. Finally, the captain instructed the tugs to go back home. He sighed, "I'll just be patient and wait." He waited until high tide. All of a sudden the ocean began to rise. What human power could not do, the rising tide of the Pacific Ocean did. It lifted that ship and put it back into the channel. Something like that happened to the early Church on the Day of Pentecost. They were all together in one place confused, unmotivated and fearful    when suddenly the tide of Holy Spirit rolled in.

6) “I'm gonna run her through that thing  one  time."  Two  brothers  grew  up  on  a farm in a rural area near Cairo, Georgia. One brother took to education like a duck to water.  He  graduated  from  Georgia  Tech  and  became  a  renowned  engineer  in Chicago. The other brother was content to stay home and farm. Some years later, the learned brother was invited to give a speech in Atlanta at the Peachtree Plaza Hotel. He had not seen his brother in a long while so he invited him to bring his family to the hotel and spend a little time with him. The rural brother had never been in a town bigger than Cairo. He and his wife and son piled into their pickup truck and headed for Atlanta. After a fearful experience on the interstate highways, they pulled up in front of the Peachtree Plaza. The farmer left his wife in the truck. He and his son went inside to check in. Just inside the entrance were a number of elevators. The farmer had never seen one before. He watched a large, very plain, middle aged lady step inside one of those little rooms. The doors closed. After about a minute, the doors opened and out stepped a young lady who was a vision of loveliness. The farmer's eyes bugged out. Quickly he punched his son and said, "Boy, go get Your Maw. I'm gonna run her through that thing one time." At Pentecost a ragged aggregation of misfits was transformed into a disciplined cadre of spiritual storm troopers. The wimps became warriors!

7) Wilma Rudolph winning Olympics gold medals: Neil T. Anderson, in his book Victory over Darkness, tells a thrilling story about a little girl born with major health problems which left her crippled. She had a large, wonderful Christian family. Her mother used to tell her. "If you believe, God will make it happen. You will be able to run around like your brothers and sisters. She took her mother’s counsel to heart and began to believe that God could heal her. She practiced walking without her braces with the aid of her brothers and sisters. On her twelfth birthday, she surprised her parents and her doctors by removing her braces and walking around the doctor's office unassisted. She never wore the braces again. Her next goal was to play basketball. The coach only agreed to let her play as a means of getting her older sister on the team. One day she approached the coach and promised him if he would give her an extra 10 minutes of coaching each day, she would give him a world-class athlete. He laughed, but seeing she was serious, half-heartedly agreed. Before long her determination paid off. She was one of the team's best players. Her team went to the  state  basketball  championships. One  of  the  referees  noticed  her  exceptional ability. He asked if she had ever run track. She hadn't. He encouraged her to try it. So after the basketball season, she went out for track. She began winning races and earned a berth in the state championships. At the age of 16, she was one of the best young runners in the country. She went to the Olympics in Australia and won a bronze medal for anchoring the 400meter relay team. Four years later in Rome she won the 100-meter dash, the 200meter dash and anchored the winning 400-meter relay team "all in world-record times.” Wilma Rudolph capped the year by receiving the prestigious Sullivan Award as the most outstanding amateur athlete in America. Her  faith  and  hard  work  had  paid  off.  [Neil  T.  Anderson,  Victory  over  Darkness (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1990), pp. 107-108.] In a sense, that is what Pentecost is about. People opened themselves to God's Spirit, and God's Spirit empowered them to do things they never dreamed possible. Pentecost is about empowerment: "a small group of folks turned the world upside down.”

about the race of the sailing yachts in which Australia finally defeated the USA for
the prized America's Cup. For 132 years the cup was kept and defended by the United States. Again and again there were challenges for the cup, but each time it was retained by the USA. Finally, in 1983 Australia mounted a serious challenge. The event took place as scheduled, and after six races, the two yachts were deadlocked at three wins each. Now the whole world seemed to take notice. Australia was alive with anticipation. The sporting world was focused on the race. The day came for the final race. After more than 100 years, the United States was in danger of losing its very precious cup. Thousands of people came to watch the race. Television cameras were ready to beam the race by satellite around the world. The crews were ready. The boats were polished. The yachts pulled into place at the starting line. All was ready, but there was no race! There was not enough wind. In yachting, no wind means no race!"   In the life of the church, as in yachting, no wind, no race. Who would deny that the church today lacks power, life, energy, excitement? The church today needs the power of the Holy Spirit.

9) Torch and Bucket: There is the story of a person who saw an angel walking down the street. The angel was carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. “What are you going to do with that torch and that bucket of water? the person asked. The angel stopped abruptly, looked at the person and said, “With the torch, Im going to burn down the mansions of heaven, and with the bucket of water, Im going to put out the fires of hell. Then we’re going to see who really loves God. The angels point is that many people obey God’s commandments out of fear of punishment of hell or hope of reward in heaven. They dont obey him for the reason Jesus gives in todays gospel. They don’t obey them out of love: “If you love me,” Jesus says in todays reading, you will obey my commandments.” (Mark Link in
Sunday                                                                                                                       Homilies’).

10) Do you belong to a Pentecostal church? During the Italian occupation of Ethiopia in the days of Mussolini, Christian believers suffered considerable persecution. In his book, Fire on the Mountains, Raymond Davis tells of the love demonstrated by believers for each other during this period of affliction, which in turn made a major impression  on  unbelievers.  For  example,  no  provision  was  made  to  feed  the prisoners in jail by the invading army. This was the responsibility of relatives and friends. Christians in the prisons had no problem, though. They were well cared for by friends and family. In fact, so much food was brought them by fellow believers and church groups that enough remained to feed the unbelieving prisoners also. This observable love, vibrant though nonverbal, brought many to seek the Lord. Such love was previously unheard of. As a result the word spread far and wide. Nonbelievers sought out believers to learn more about the Christian faith. When prisoners who had come to know Christ while in jail were released, they went back home and attended the nearest church. [Leslie B. Flynn, You Dont Have To Go It Alone,  (Denver, Colorado: Accent  Books, 1981).]     It  is  only  right,  then,  that  we should pray that we might be a Pentecostal church,” if we understands what that means.

11)   I   need   to   know   if   you   are    Pentecostal.”   The   well-known   author and preacher, Fred Craddock, tells a  rather  funny  story about a  lecture he  was giving: A few years ago, when he was on the West Coast speaking at a seminary, just before the first lecture, one of the students stood up and said, "Before you speak, I need to know if you are Pentecostal." The room grew silent. Craddock said he looked around for the Dean of the seminary! He was nowhere to be found. The student continued with his quiz right in front of everybody. Craddock was taken aback, and so he said, "Do you mean do I belong to the Pentecostal Church?" He said, "No, I mean are you Pentecostal?" Craddock said, "Are you asking me if I am charismatic?" the student said, "I am asking you if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "Do you want to know if I speak in tongues?" He said, "I want to know if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "I don't know what your question is." The student said, "Obviously, you are not Pentecostal." He left. What are we talking about this morning? Is the church supposed to use the word Pentecost only as a noun or can it be used as an adjective? And so I ask you: Are you Pentecostal? If the church is alive in the world it is Pentecostal. The church is alive if we are in one accord, sharing our blessings with the less fortunate ones, if we are joined together in prayer and if we are repenting people asking forgiveness from God and others every day.

12) It was the Holy Spirit.” Fr. Bob Spitzer, a Jesuit Priest who was the president of Gonzaga University for 12 years tells about a powerful prayer to the Holy Spirit. It involves asking for the healing of hurts and memories, not just for one’s own self, but for those one has harmed.  Always seeking forgiveness. He tells the story of making an offhand comment that afterwards he regretted. Unable to call the man, he went to the chapel and asked the Holy Spirit to heal any harm he had done. A few days later, something extraordinary happened.  Fr. Spitzer ran into the man walking on the campus, and the man said, “You know Father, Ive been thinking about what you told me.  At first I was kind of angry, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized what you were getting at.  You actually helped me a great deal.” As Fr. Spitzer remarked later: It was the Holy Spirit.(

13) Fly like an eagle: There is an old fable about a changeling eagle. A tribesman who lived in a forest, one day found an egg of an eagle. He took the egg home and hatched it along with the chicken eggs. This eaglet started growing up with the other chicks. It started eating white ants and little worms, pecking and hopping here and there like the other chicks. But it never learned to fly like an eagle. One day as it was foraging for food from the ground, it saw an eagle majestically soaring high in the sky. As the eaglet was admiring the grandeur of the soaring eagle, the other chicks came and said to the eaglet, “Look that is the eagle the king of the birds. You and I are chickens. We cannot fly like the eagle.” Often we lead poor lives without realizing the power of the Holy Spirit residing within us. Let us learn to connect ourselves to this great spiritual powerhouse of the Holy Spirit by daily praying for his anointing. (John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’)

14) "Oh, it sleeps about eighty." A family driving a large camper pulled up in front of the church just as the pastor started toward home. Desiring to be friendly, the pastor introduced himself and expressed his admiration for the camper. The man of the

family  told  him  rather  proudly:  "This    camper  sleeps  eight  people."  Then  he asked: "What is the capacity of your church, Pastor?" The beleaguered pastor replied rather glumly, "Oh, it sleeps about eighty." It is embarrassing sometimes how little the modern-day church resembles the church that first Pentecost: the sound of a wind-storm, tongues of fire, disciples speaking in different languages, thousands being added to the church and lots of excitement excitement everywhere! (L/12)

Sermons for Pentecost:

 Acts 2:1-21 - Are You Pentecostal?

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15 - God's Two Hands - by Leonard Sweet

The well known author and preacher Fred Craddock tells a rather funny story about a lecture he was giving: A few years ago, when he was on the west coast speaking at a seminary, just before the first lecture, one of the students stood up and said, "Before you speak, I need to know if you are Pentecostal." The room grew silent. Craddock said he looked around for the Dean of the seminary! He was nowhere to be found.

The student continued with his quiz right in front of everybody. Craddock was taken aback, and so he said, "Do you mean do I belong to the Pentecostal Church?" He said, "No, I mean are you Pentecostal?" Craddock said, "Are you asking me if I am charismatic?" the student said, "I am asking you if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "Do you want to know if I speak in tongues?" He said, "I want to know if you are Pentecostal." Craddock said, "I don't know what your question is." The student said, "Obviously, you are not Pentecostal." He left.

 What are we talking about this morning? Is the church supposed to use the word Pentecost only as a noun or can it be used as an adjective? And so I ask you: Are you Pentecostal?...

 There is a reason the disciples are best known as the "duh!-ciples."

 Jesus hand-picked his own team, these twelve companions in ministry and mission. How could his chosen dozen have been so duh! and dumb?

 Come on, now. Don't deny that this very thought has not crossed your mind at some point or another when reading any of the four gospels! From the safe distance of twenty centuries it is easy to look back self-importantly at Galilee and assert that, "If I'd been there I'd have 'gotten it!'"

 Really? You think?

 The Man - the charismatic Jesus, the greatest communicator and most creative person the world has ever seen.

The Message - the master teacher of Torah with revolutionary claims and astonishing insights.

The Miracles - the signs and wonders that made divine powers a seaside, roadside, bedside experience.

 It is easy to wonder. After all, the disciples lived with Jesus. They were as close to him as anyone could get. They traveled with Jesus. They listened to his every word...


 You Are in the Spirit

It's like the story of the shark and the whale. Both were swimming in the sea when the shark swam up to the whale to engage in conversation. As they swam along, the shark said to the whale, "You are so much older than I, and wiser too. Could you tell me where the ocean is?" The whale responded, "The ocean is what you are in now." The shark would not believe it. "Come on, tell me where the ocean is so I may find it!" The whale repeated, "The ocean is here, now; you are in it." Unbelieving, the shark swam away searching for the ocean.

The moral of the story, I believe, is this: don't spend too much time looking for God because the Spirit of God is here in the now of your life, dwelling within you, within me, within this community. And that truth is nurtured in prayer.

Susan M. Fleenor, The Indwelling Spirit of Pentecost



A wealthy family from Massachusetts used to take a month's vacation every summer to the coast of Maine, taking their maid with them. The maid had an annual ritual at the beach. She wore an old-fashioned bathing suit, complete with a little white hat, and carried enough paraphernalia to stock Wal-Mart. She would settle herself on the beach, cover every inch of her exposed flesh and journey down to the water's edge. There she would hesitate while taking deep breaths and working up her courage to enter the icy-cold water. Finally, she would daintily extend one foot and lower it slowly into the water until she barely had her big toe submerged. Then she repeated the act with the other foot. Then, having satisfied her minimal urge for a swim, she would retreat to her chair and umbrella and spend the remainder of the vacation curled around a book.

I'm afraid that may be a parable of our Christian commitment. Are we afraid to give in to the Pentecost experience, fearful that we might lose control? That's what it is really all about, isn't it? Control. We want to be in control. Well, if Pentecost is to do nothing else, it should remind us that we are not in control, not even - or perhaps I should say especially - of ourselves.

Randy L. Hyde, Time to Deliver

They All Come Together

John Ortberg tells the story of a friend who made his first trip south of the Mason-Dixon Line from Chicago to Georgia. On his first morning in the South he went into a restaurant to order breakfast, and it seemed that every dish included something called grits...which, as my Tennessee friends tell me, is exactly the way God intended it. Not being familiar with this southern delicacy, he asked the waitress, "Could you tell me, exactly what is a grit?" Looking down on him with a mixture of compassion and condescension, she said, "Sugar, you can't get just one grit. They always come together."

John Wesley knew there was no personal holiness without social holiness, and Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard says, "You can no more go to God alone than you can go to the North Pole alone." We're just like can't get just one. They come together.

John E. Harnish, Collected Sermons,


The peace Jesus gives to us through the Holy Spirit is more than we can ever imagine:

Peace means the cessation of all warfare, but it also means much more.
Peace means a feeling of inner well-being, but it also means much more.
Peace means an end to psychological tensions, but it also means much more.
Peace means halting interpersonal conflicts, but it also means much more.
Peace means the settling of silence on the soul, but it also means much more.

In Valyermo, California , the Benedictines converted a 400-acre ranch into a religious community called St. Andrew's Priory. As you enter the grounds, you find that the land is posted: "No Hunting Except for Peace."

The world is hunting for peace. What will we give it?

Leonard Sweet, Collected Sermons,


The Church on Fire

Two persons were talking together before a large church which was being destroyed by fire. The first man spoke in a voice which could be heard above the voice of the firemen: "This is the first time I ever saw you at church." To this the second responded: "This is the first time I ever saw the church on fire." There are many prophets of doom saying that the age of the Christian Church is over - that it has lost its zeal! We're taking a beating right now in this country and around the world. Our theology is being questioned. Everyone is writing a critical book against the organized church. We have had to take some unpopular stands on social issues. Magazines are attacking the ministry, and it isn't the thing to do anymore to join the church. John Kelman said, however, "God pity the nation or city whose factory smokestacks rise higher than her church spires."

Why Belong To The Church?, anthology, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.


Waves of Worry

Several years ago a submarine was being tested and had to remain submerged for many hours. When it returned to the harbor, the captain was asked, "How did the terrible storm last night affect you?" The officer looked at him in surprise and exclaimed, "Storm? We didn't even know there was one!" The sub had been so far beneath the surface that it had reached the area known to sailors as "the cushion of the sea." Although the ocean may be whipped into huge waves by high winds, the waters below are never stirred.

This, I believe, is a perfect picture of the peace that comes from Christ's Spirit. The waves of worry, of fear, of heartbreak, cannot touch those resting in Christ. Sheltered by His grace and encouraged by His Spirit, the believer is given the perfect tranquility that only Christ can provide.

Adrian Dieleman, Receive the Holy Spirit


Humor: How Were You Attired?

Recently, a judicial friend was presiding over a case in a small, rural county. The defendant was charged with drunk driving and trying to assault the police officer who arrested him. To convict the defendant on the assault on an officer charge, the District Attorney had to proved that the defendant knew the person he was assaulting was a police officer. And the easiest way to do that is to show that the officer was wearing a police uniform, and therefore the defendant knew that this was a police officer.

So the District Attorney asked the officer on the witness stand "And how were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?"

The witness looked at him blankly. It was clear he didn't know what the District Attorney meant by "attired". Everyone saw this but the District Attorney.

"Would you repeat the question, please?"

In a slightly irritated voice the District Attorney said, "And how were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?"

The witness still was puzzled. "Say that again", he pleaded.

"How were you attired when you pulled the defendant over?" barked the District Attorney.

My friend said you could suddenly see the light bulb come on in the officer's head, and he proudly proclaimed "I was traveling on standard issue radial tires!"

This officer needed an interpreter even within the English language!

That's what I'm getting at: We all need our own personal interpreter, full time, 24/7. So much of what we hear, even within the English language, we don't understand. And nowhere is that truth more evident than with people who are new to the church.

Leonard Sweet, Collected Sermons,

Lost and Found

Picture a little girl lost in a big city. There she sits, crying on the curb. A policeman finds her, puts her in his cruiser and drives her up and down the streets, hoping she'll recognize something familiar. Which, at last, she does. She sees a steeple with a cross on it. Tears vanish.
Speech returns. "That's my church," she says. "I can find my way from here."

You're not the only one, little girl.

William A. Ritter, Collected Sermons,

What Is Your Other Plan?

Erasmus, the famous Renaissance scholar, once told a classic story which was designed to emphasize how important it is that we take up the torch of Christ's ministry with great commitment. In the story, Jesus returns to heaven after His time on earth. The angels gather around Him to learn what all happened during His days on earth. Jesus tells them of the miracles, His teachings, His death on the cross, and His resurrection.

 When He finishes his story, Michael the Archangel asks Jesus, "But what happens now?"