Transfiguration Roman Catholic Church at 100 McKrell Road, Russellton, PA 15076 US - May 19, 2013 - Solemnity of Pentecost

May 19, 2013 - Solemnity of Pentecost

There appeared to them
tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest
on each one of them.
And they were all filled
with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2: 3-4

Today's Mass Readings

 complete texts of the Mass readings for today

A New Pentecost

The word "Pentecost" comes from the Greek and means simply "fiftieth". We celebrate many "fiftieths": birthdays, memorials, and jubilees.
Pentecost is simply the fiftieth day after Easter, the golden Easter Day, so to speak. That is why the Gospel reading from Easter Day is read again today. Easter is indeed not in the past. Christ is risen. Death no longer has any power over him. That is why he was able to promise that he will remain with us every day until the end of the world. And that is why he has pledged that his Church will never ever be overpowered by death or by the forces of destruction.
Time and again there has been "a new Pentecost", which has reawakened and renewed the Church. Blessed Pope John XXIII was hoping for just such a new Pentecost, when he called a council (Vatican Council II, 1962-1965) nearly fifty years ago to renew the Church. Did it happen? Did it fail to come about? How can we know, how can we judge, whether the Holy Spirit is bringing about a new Pentecost?
The Gospel reading shows us how. The starting point is an unpleasant and hopeless situation, one that offers no comfort. Jesus' disciples are sitting together helplessly, with no idea what to do. Fear holds them in its bonds. The doors are barred from the inside, and probably the windows, too. Their talking and thinking turns around their own difficulties; they are bewailing the hard times and the wicked world. Former times, when things were better, are nostalgically evoked. The view ahead strikes fear into them, and looking back becomes a way of escaping present difficulties.
Who has not known times like that? We have them in our personal lives, just as in the life of the Church. These are moments of profound depression. No light appears; we see no end to the tunnel.
Then Jesus comes, right in among the disciples. Barred doors and windows are no obstacle to him. What happened on the evening of Easter Day has gone on happening, up to this day, with ever-new and surprising twists. What seemed dead comes to life; what seemed to be dead-end situations becomes the new way forward. I call that "the turning point of hope". I believe we can recognize a new Pentecost from the way hope burgeons afresh.
We have a great longing for such a turning point: finally emerging from the diabolical circle of addiction; finding peace in the endless conflict of a difficult relationship; being set free from the tormenting sense of meaninglessness and uselessness. We can continue the list as long as we like. Yet how does the turnaround come about? Back then, it was Christ himself who came, visibly and tangibly, and brought peace and joy. But what about today?
There are many ways in which Christ gives us new hope. It mostly happens through other people, who light up our darkness. For many people, Pope John XXIII brought a glim­mer of hope. Many found the same thing with Cardinal Franz Konig (d. 2004). Often it is quite ordinary people through whom the joy of Christ comes into our lives. Such encounters can change people's lives.
What is quite decisive, however, is that we encounter God's mercy. "If you forgive the sins of any ... “ says Jesus, on the evening of Easter Day. Without forgiveness, there is no hope. We can see that, in the dreadful trouble spots of today's world. We have all the more need of people who are prepared to pass on to others the peace and reconciliation of Jesus, so that a new Pentecost may come.

Reprinted from:
Jesus, The Divine Physician
Encountering Christ in the Gospel of Luke
By Christoph Cardinal Schönborn,
Archbishop of Vienna, Austria
Ignatius Press, 2008


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