Solemnity of Pentecost (a)
The fifty day celebration of Easter ends today with the great feast of Pentecost. It is a day when we consider the transforming gift of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and in the life of the Church. We give thanks for this gift given us by God.
The events of the first Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, are described in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles.
St. Paul describes the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the second reading.
Finally, in the Gospel reading, St. John links Easter with the Holy Spirit. The risen Jesus gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples and initiates the mission of the Church.
End of the Easter Season.
Monday 9th June: Feast of St. Columba.
Columba was born in Gartan in County Donegal in 521 into a family of royal lineage. He became a monk at Clonard and was ordained a priest where he was trained by St. Finian. He began founding monasteries in Derry, Durrow and possible Kells before travelling to Scotland and landing in Iona. From here, his monks travelled all over evangelising the local tribes and their kings. His influence reached as far at Northumbria. Iona became known as a place of pilgrimage and as a centre of missionary expansion. He died in 597.
Tuesday 10th June: Tuesday in the tenth week of the year.
Today we revert to the ordinary cycle of the year which is year 2.
The first readings take up where we left of some weeks ago with the history of the people of Israel. Elijah had had condemned the king for turning away from God. Now we have another account of the the acts of the Lord’s goodness through Elijah. He had foretold a drought and it was now taking place. Elijah was given food and women who provided it was rewarded by having nourishment in spite of the drought.
In the Gospel, Jesus reminds his followers that he expects them to be noticed and stand out. Only if people see faith in action will they give glory to God.
Wednesday 11th June: Wednesday in the tenth week of the year.
Today we hear how Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal who was the fertility god worshipped by Ahab and Jezebel. They meet on Mount Carmel and, as a result of the contest, the people see that there is only the one true God, the God of Israel and that he is the God who must be worshipped by all.
Jesus stresses that he has not come to wipe out the old law. Much of it is good and valid but he has come to build on it and complete it.
Thursday 12th June: Thursday in the tenth week of the year.
Only when the people accept the one true God does the drought cease and rain falls. Elijah has clearly established that he is the prophet of the one true God who must be worshipped by all.
Jesus carried on his teaching in the gospel and condemns some of the scribes and Pharisees because they have interpreted the law to suit themselves. Over the next few days many of the readings contain the phrase ‘You have heard it said… but I say this to you.’ He stresses it is sincerity of heart that matters above all else.
Friday 13th June: Friday in the tenth week of the year.
In spite of all his work, Elijah finds that many of the people still refuse to accept the one true God and desert him. Elijah travels for forty days to find the Lord and finds him not in fires and winds but in the still quiet peace within a cave. His encounter with the Lord lifts his depression and he returns to the people, convinced that God has not left his people.
Jesus repeats and stresses again. The people must obey the laws of their religion from the hearts. Ritual empty observance will never be acceptable to God.
Saturday 14th June: Saturday in the tenth week of the year.
Elijah chooses Elisha as his successor and consecrates him by throwing his cloak over him. In time to come Elisha does take over after a long period of training.
Jesus stresses aging the way in which the law must be interpreted. It must be positive and with no attempt to distort or disguise. ‘Say yes if you mean yes, say no if you mean no.’