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Pastoral Ponderings . . .
Ken Stanczyk, Director of Adult Ministry
Earth, Wind & Fire
I feel sorry for the Holy Spirit. It seems as though s/he is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Holy Trinity: s/he gets no respect! Take the Mass for example. We have the “Our Father” and Jesus is present in the Eucharist, but the Holy Spirit does not get much air time. In the Apostles’ Creed, the Holy Spirit barely gets mentioned, lumped together with a bunch of other beliefs. Almost all of our prayers are addressed to either the Father or Jesus. In the bible, the Old Testament is all about the actions of the Father in history, while the New Testament focuses on Jesus. The Holy Spirit is just interspersed here and there.
But, when the Holy Spirit does make an entrance, it is dramatic, memorable and life-altering. Take today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit enters the scene as a driving wind and tongues of fire. Afterwards, the apostles, who were hiding in fear in the upper room, find courage to go out in the streets and proclaim the word of God. Their actions are so extra-ordinary that some people think that they must be drunk. Because of the Holy Spirit, the word of God is able to be understood by all, even though the audience is from various regions.
This theme of unifying various people is echoed in the second reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. The Holy Spirit is the unifying force in our church. We may have different kinds of spiritual gifts, forms of service, or workings, but the same Spirit. As a result, we should rejoice in and respect each other’s gifts and talents. At the end of today’s reading, Paul states that “we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” Oh, to be thought drunk on this Spirit as the apostles were in the first reading!
Verses 29-30 of today’s responsorial psalm 104 state: “If you take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.” This hearkens back to Genesis when God the Creator breathed life into humans. In today’s Gospel, Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit on the apostles by breathing on them. As God gave life to Adam, Jesus now gives new life to his disciples.
Today is known as the birthday of the church. Every birthday is a beginning of a new year. It is a time to remember where we came from and where we are sent. What great deeds will we be able to perform as a Church in the coming year if we are open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Which talents will we be called to use to build up the one body? How will we renew the face of the earth?
Read more about what is happening in our parish in this week’s Bulletin.