- Published: Tuesday, 30 May 2017 21:36
LITURGY NOTES FOR PENTECOST SUNDAY
June 4, 2017
Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand
We pay our respects to them for their care of the land
May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.
I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,
the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,
and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are now gathered,
(the ……) and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them.
We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and breed in the soil; as trustees of the waters – [the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes] - and the rich variety of life in those waters.
We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.
We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and in living together in peace and harmony.
Information alone is not enough;
knowledge of injustice bears
the responsibility for direct action.
He breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.' ‘
May the fire be in your thoughts
making them good and just
may it protect you from all harm
may the fire be in your eyes
may it open your eyes to see what is good in life
may it protect you from speaking against another.
May the fire be in your ears
we pray that you may hear with deep listening
so that you may hear the flow of water
and of all Creation and of the Dreaming.
May you be protected from gossip
and from those things that harm and break down your family.
May the fire be in your arms and hands
so that you may be of service and build up love.
May the fire protect you from all violence.
May the fire be in your whole being, in your legs and feet
enabling you to walk the earth with respect and care
so that you may journey in the ways of goodness and trust
and be protected from walking away from what is true.
Prayer used by Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region for 1000s of years
Reading I Acts 2:1-11
Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Reading II 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Gospel Jn 20:19-23
1. Jesus, you breathe on us the Spirit who can make us understand one another and help us to appreciate and support one another: Jesus, have mercy.
2. Jesus, you breathe on us the Spirit that unites us in love and makes our loving creative and inventive: Christ, have mercy.
3. Jesus, you breathe on us your Spirit to liberate us from all paralysing fears enabling us to serve with joy: Jesus, have mercy.
1. You send down the fire of your justice and pour out your Spirit on all. Jesus, have mercy.
2. You send down the rain of your love and your sons and your daughters prophesy. Christ, have mercy.
3. You send down your Spirit to breathe life into your people where the old dream dreams and the young see visions. Jesus, have mercy.
God of Wind and Fire,
may the Spirit surprise us
with fire and vigour
to make us young at heart and new again.
Let your Spirit renew our lives
and bring us tenderness and joy,
openness to one another,
and the courage to stand up
for all that is right and just
so that all divisions between peoples
may be dispersed.
God of Wind and Fire,
breathe your life-giving Spirit
on us and on our world
to refresh us and make us new and free.
May we be inflamed
with the fire of your love and freedom
so as to be open to your wisdom and peace and courage.
Prayer over the Gifts
God of Wind and Fire,
as your Spirit comes upon these gifts of bread and wine,
help us to show your healing presence
to all the world
by raising our voices in words of peace.
God of Wind and Fire,
the Spirit has brought us together
around the table of your Son.
May it heal all that divides us
and set us free from hatred
so that, one in heart and mind,
we may give praise to you.
Prayer after Communion
God of Wind and Fire,
we have listened to Jesus speak his word to us
and shared in the bread of life.
May your Spirit put fire in these words,
that they may burn within us
and shake us from indifference
by prompting and urging us
to transform our world.
God of Wind and Fire,
the Holy Spirit has opened our hearts
to understand the Word of your Son.
May it give us the courage
to bring the Good News to the poor,
and set one another free
from all injustice and hardness of heart,
so that we may live in peace with one another.
Introduction: Let us pray to God to pour out the Spirit on us and on the world. The response is: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit upon Pope Francis: May he continue to grow courageously in his leadership and in his calls for peace and active nonviolence through care and respect for all our sisters and brothers; all living things and our Common Home, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit as living water on the world: May the Spirit come to enlighten and strengthen all those with a political responsibility: that justice and peace may be their daily concern, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit as inspiration in the world: May justice and the common good be uppermost in the hearts of those (church leaders, government leaders, public servants, business and the media) who make decisions that affect the lives of many people, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit upon all who believe they are voiceless or powerless: May they trust in the gift they have to speak up on issues of justice and peace, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit on all who are concerned to build a world of just peace: May we have to wisdom to discern an end to war and violence, help to address the needs of refugees and immigrants, perseverance to keep working for health care for all, and the courage to live simply and in ways that respect our environment, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit of courage on the world: May people of vision and deep concern for justice share their vision of human interconnectedness, stand firm in their convictions and find support when they are challenged, tested and persecuted, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit of wonder on the world: May poets, writers and artists who point us to the beauty of the world around us also point us to the beauty and dignity of each person and use their gifts where there is injustice and violence, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit as a burning fire on the world: May the Spirit enlighten and convert all those with an economic responsibility so that solidarity and sharing guide their decisions, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit as a bond of grace on the world: May the Spirit enlighten and gather together all those scattered by the events of life; put hope in their hearts to start a new life, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit as a cry of expectancy in the world: May the Spirit enlighten and guide all who have heard your call to bear witness to your Good News throughout the world, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit on all closed doors and hearts: May the Spirit unlock hearts that exclude people which flows from and/or leads to racism, ethnic conflicts and military rivalries, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour our your Spirit who people who might fail in hope: May the Spirit stir in people and awareness in people of the suffering of the people of Gaza and the West bank, the cries for liberation and autonomy of the people of Papua, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
· Pour out your Spirit on a world that cries out for peace: May your Spirit grant the gift of peace and help us to eliminate war, violence and terrorism, we pray: God of Wind and Fire, hear our prayer.
Concluding Prayer: God of Wind and Fire answer our prayers. May the Spirit, alive in us, spread your love among all people, today and forever.
June 5: World Environment Day
June 8 World Oceans Day
June 10 Myall Creek Massacre 1838
June 11 Ratification by Austral of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1975
June 12 World Day against Child Labour
‘Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God's new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.’
‘Dreams grow holy put in action.’
Adelaide Anne Procter
‘If you want to speak to God, tell it to the wind.’
African Proverb, Ghana
‘Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’
‘A sedentary life is the real sin against the Holy Spirit. Only those thoughts that come by walking have any value.’
Friedrich Nietzsche, 19th century
‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is so important not to let ourselves off the hook or to become apathetic or cynical by telling ourselves that nothing works or makes a difference. Every day, light your small candle.... The inaction and actions of many human beings over a long time contributed to the crises our children face, and it is the action and struggle of many human beings over time that will solve them—with God's help. So every day, light your small candle.
Marian Wright Edelman Guide My Feet
So many people feel so overwhelmed and disempowered by the stresses of modern life that they convince themselves they can't make a difference. So they don't even try. They bury their talents in the ground and let their spirits wither on the vine of life. I hope they will bestir themselves at least to say every day as an anonymous old man did: ‘I don't have the answers, life is not easy, but my heart is in the right place
Marian Wright Edelman, Guide My Feet
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), ‘Keeping Quiet’ Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid) Jonathan Cape, London, 1972, pp.27-29 (original Estravagario, Editorial Losada, Buenos Aires, 1958)
Prayers for the Earth
For once on the face of the earth let's not speak in any language
Let's stop for one second and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines.
We would all be together in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales
And the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire,
Victory with no survivors
Would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers
in the shade doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused with total inactivity,
Life is what it is about.
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single minded about keeping our lives moving,
And for once could do nothing,
Perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never
And of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Pablo Neruda Prayers for the Earth
To be a disciple means to put one's feet in the footsteps of Jesus and, in the power of his Spirit, to continue in one's own historical time and place his mission of announcing and signing the coming of the reign of God. Together as church, the community of disciples is in a unique way called to be the instrument of the reign of God in history. Since peace and justice are among the most powerful signs of the reign of God present in this world, it belongs to the essential mission of the church to make these realities more visible in our time, so marked by oppression, violence, injustice and threat of total destruction. Following Jesus on this way may well cost disciples their lives--the servants are not greater than the master. But the community of disciples must go on witnessing throughout the conflicts of history, drawing courage from their memory of Jesus, from their experience of his continuing presence in the Spirit, and for hope in the final victory of the coming reign of God’.
Elizabeth A. Johnson, Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology (NY: Crossroad, 1990 p. 77)
It is not only the leaders of nations who build the world of tomorrow. The most obscure and humble people can play a part in bringing about a future of peace and trust
Brother Roger of Taizéfrom open letter ‘To the Wellsprings of Joy’ 2004
Look around and you will see the presence of Christ.
Look around and you will hear the call of God.
Look around and you will know the Power of the Spirit.
Look around and you will be empowered.
Look around and you will be filled with joy.
You will be involved in the struggle for justice and peace.
You will hear the voice of God among the impoverished of the world.
You will hear God speak in the struggle for peace and justice.
You will be led into life and grace.
God dwells in the world.
Prayer for a New Society
All-nourishing God, your children cry for help
Against the violence of our world:
Where children starve for bread and feed on weapons;
Starve for vision and feed on drugs;
Starve for love and feed on videos;
Starve for peace and die murdered in our streets.
Creator God, timeless preserver of resources,
Forgive us for the gifts that we have wasted.
Renew for us what seems beyond redemption;
Call order and beauty to emerge again from chaos.
Convert our destructive power into creative service;
Help us to heal the woundedness of our world.
Liberating God, release us from the demons of violence.
Free us today from the disguised demon of deterrence
That puts guns by our pillows and missiles in our skies.
Free us from all demons that blind and blunt our spirits;
Cleanse us from all justifications for violence and war;
Open our narrowed hearts to the suffering and the poor.
Abiding God, loving renewer of the human spirit,
Unfold our violent fists into peaceful hands:
Stretch our sense of family to include our neighbours;
Stretch our sense of neighbour to include our enemies;
Until our response to you finally respects and embraces
All creation as precious sacraments of your presence.
Hear the prayer of your starving children. Amen.
© Pax Christi USA, 1995
The bread you possess belongs to the hungry
They say: Whom do I wrong by keeping my property? What, tell me, is your property? Where did you find it and brought it to your life? Just like someone in the theatre, who had a seat and then stopped those who entered, judging that what lies common in front of everyone to use, was his own: rich men are of the same kind. They first took possession of the common property, and then they keep it as their own because they were the first to take it. If one had taken what is necessary to cover one’s needs and had left the rest to those who are in need, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, no one would be in need.
Isn’t it true, that you fell off the womb naked? Isn’t it true, that naked you shall return to the earth? Where is your present property from? If you think that it came to you by itself, you don’t believe in God, you don’t acknowledge the creator and you are not thankful to him who gave it to you. But if you agree and confess that you have it from God, tell us the reason why he gave it to you. …
Who is the greedy person? It’s him who doesn’t content himself with what he has. And who strips? He who steals what belongs to the others. And you think that you are not greedy, and that you do not strip the others? What was granted to you, in order for you to take care of the others, you took it and you made it your own. What do you think?
He who strips the clothed is to be called a thief. How should we name him, who is able to dress the naked and doesn’t do it, does he deserve some other name? The bread that you possess belongs to the hungry. The clothes that you store in boxes, belong to the naked. The shoes rotting by you, belong to the bare-foot. The money that you hide belongs to anyone in need. You wrong as many people as you were able to help.
St. Basil, 4th century bishop of Caesarea .‘The Bread You Possess Belongs to the Hungry by St. Basil [Bishop of Caesarea in the 4th century]. Sojourners Magazine, May 2008.
The Place Where We Are Right
From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.
The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.
But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard
where the ruined
house once stood.
Yehuda Amichai, The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, (New York: Harper & Row, 1986)
The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
We have to start teaching ourselves not to be afraid
On a summer morning / I sat down / on a hillside / to think about God / a worthy pastime. / Near me, I saw / a single cricket; / it was moving the grains of the hillside / this way and that way. / How great was its energy, / how humble its effort. / Let us hope / it will always be like this, / each of us going on / in our inexplicable ways / building the universe.
Mary Oliver, Song of the Builders
…for nonviolence seeks to 'win' not by destroying or even by humiliating the adversary, but by convincing [the adversary] that there is a higher and more certain common good than can be attained by bombs and blood. Nonviolence, ideally speaking, does not try to overcome the adversary by winning over [them], but to turn [them] from an adversary into a collaborator by winning [them] over.’
Thomas Merton, Faith and Violence: Christian Teaching and Christian Practice
Every time we put behind us our long-standing prejudices and find the courage to build new fraternal relationships, we confess that Christ is truly risen!
Pope Francis, Jerusalem, May 25, 2014
Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 244
Finding one’s own voice, however, haltingly, imparts the power of the Spirit crying out. The boldness to hear the claim of conscience and follow its deep impulses even in the face of loss; the courage to taste righteous anger and allow it to motivate critical resistance to evil; the willingness to utter the prophetic word – these occurrences inscribe the movement of the Spirit’s compassion into the ambiguity of the world.
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, 126
Ever mindful of the past, let us promote an education in which exclusion and confrontation give way to inclusion and encounter ….
Pope Francis, Tel Aviv, 25 May 2014
All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. All of us – especially those placed at the service of their respective peoples – have the duty to become instruments and artisans of peace, especially by our prayers.
Pope Francis, Bethlehem, May 25, 2014
Can any reasonable man be well disposed toward a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself?
Alexander Hamilton, (1757-1804)
Throughout the history of the United States, war has been the primary impetus behind the growth and development of the central state. It has been the lever by which presidents and other national officials have bolstered the power of the state in the face of tenacious popular resistance.
Bruce D. Porter (1952- ) Professor of political science at Brigham Young University War and the Rise of the State, 1994
During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong no matter who does it or who says it
Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it
Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.
So long as the deceit ran along quiet and monotonous, all of us let ourselves be deceived, abetting it unawares or maybe through cowardice...
Warm wind of heaven,
moving the face of waters
twirling tree blossoms
fostering bush creatures,
visit our untamed places.
Warm Wind of heaven,
activating human clay
stirring immortal longings
fill up our empty spaces.
Warm Wind of heaven
calling through leaders
singing through psalmists
reforming through prophets
unite our warring races.
Warm Wind of heaven
overflowing Jesus Christ
enfolding all the lost
keeping the church honest
swamp us with your graces.
Warm Wind of heaven
the gift of loving
the love of giving
the joy of living
bless our upturned faces
© Bruce D Prewer
…may Christ inflame the desires of all people to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through Christ’s power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers and sisters, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them.
Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, #171
The civilized have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo; are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide that their ‘vital interests’ are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the ‘sanctity’ of human life, or the ‘conscience’ of the civilized world.
James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work [Collected Essays, 1998]
Whenever a human community resists its own destruction or works for its own renewal; when structural changes serve the liberation of oppressed peoples; when law subverts sexism, racism, poverty, and militarism; when swords are beaten into ploughshares or bombs into food for the starving; when the scores of old injustices are healed; when enemies are reconciled once violence and domination have ceased; whenever the lies and the raping and the killing stop; wherever diversity is sustained in koinônia; wherever justice and peace and freedom gain a transformative foothold–-there the living presence of powerful, blessing mystery amid the brokenness of the world is mediated.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ,She Who Is, p.126
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend the rights of those who have nothing. Speak up and judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor and needy.
I refuse to accept the view that [mankind] is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war, that the bright daybreak of peace and [brotherhood] can never become a reality.
Through skyscraper canyons
you come, Holy Spirit,
down lanes and arcades
from the north, from the south,
from within and without,
the roar of Pure Wind
In houses of parliament
you come, Holy Spirit,
into lawmaker’s chambers
from above, from below,
from ally and foe,
as the roar of Pure Truth
Through grand Gothic arches
you come, Holy Spirit,
to choir and high altar
from the west, from the east,
from the font and the feast,
the roar of Pure Fire
Ó B D Prewer, Australian Prayers. Open Book Publishers
The Grace to Shout
Today we ask the grace to shout when it hurts, even though silence is expected of us,
and to listen when others shout though it be painful to hear;
to object, to protest, when we feel, taste, or observe injustice,
believing that even the unjust and arrogant
are human nonetheless and therefore worthy of strong efforts to reach them.
Take from us, Guiding God, the heart of despair and fill us with courage and understanding.
Give us a self that knows very well when the moment has come to protest.
We ask the grace to be angry when the weakest are the first to be exploited
and the trapped are squeezed for their meagre resources,
when the most deserving are the last to thrive, and the privileged demand more privilege.
We ask for the inspiration to make our voice heard
when we have something that needs to be said,
something that rises to our lips despite our shyness.
And we ask the grace to listen when the meek finally rise to speak and their words are an agony for us
William Cleary, Psalm Services For Group Prayer
you reached across the ethnic boundaries between
Samaritan, Roman and Jew,
and offered fresh sight to the blind and freedom to captives.
Help us to break down the barriers in our communities
enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry,
and free us to challenge and uproot it from ourselves,
our society, and our world.
May we find you in all things and all people. Amen.
Come Holy Spirit. Come! Fill the hearts of your people.
Come Holy Spirit that we may be aware:
Aware of the people around us,
especially the poor and oppressed;
Aware of the children,
the young people,
all the people striving to grow
into their dignity as children of God;
Aware of the world around us,
especially the environment with its plants and animals,
with its land and water,
with its air and space,
with all its mystery;
Aware of the structures of power,
especially those that keep people
poor or powerless or confused or unfree;
Aware of the violence and the threats of violence,
which are not the way of Jesus
Aware of our selves and our bias and stereotypes
and all our unfreedom;
Aware of all the possibilities
for freedom and joy and life.
Come Holy Spirit.
Fill the hearts of your people.
Give us the freedom to see.
Give us the wisdom and courage to speak.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, breathe down upon our troubled world.
Shake the tired foundations of our crumbling institutions.
Break the rules that keep you out of all our sacred spaces,
and from the dust and rubble, gather up the seedlings of a new creation.
Come Holy Spirit, enflame once more the dying embers of our weariness.
Shake us out of our complacency. Whisper our names once more,
and scatter your gifts of grace with wild abandon.
Break open the prisons of our inner being,
and let your raging justice be our sign of liberty.
Come Holy Spirit and lead us to places we would rather not go.
Expand the horizons of our limited imaginations.
Awaken in our souls dangerous dreams for a new tomorrow,
and rekindle in our hearts the fire of prophetic enthusiasm.
Come Holy Spirit, whose justice outwits international conspiracy,
whose light outshines religious bigotry,
whose peace can halt our patriarchal hunger for dominance and control,
whose promise invigorates our every effort:
to create a new heaven and a new earth, now and forever. Amen.
Fr Diarmuid O’Murchu msc
The Spirit Who Blows
How can we face the pain and the plight of those who live in the dark?
How can we open the locks that are tied round many a mind and a heart?
How can we liberate people in hope for the new day that dawns on us all?
The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind!
While parliamentarians fail to inspire and financiers convolute;
And the powers from on high are so blind and confused – even Church folk can’t recognise truth!
While systems collapse and things fall apart, a new birth emerges elsewhere.
The future, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the future is blowing
Let’s listen instead to the margins crying out, the voices for too long subdued.
Lets listen instead to our Planet, the Earth, whose story we oft misconstrued.
The wisdom of women ignored and repressed, is haunting our world anew.
So, new hope, my friend, is blowing in the wind, new hope is blowing
How can we reclaim a faith to sustain the prophets that open new ways?
And can we discern the disturbing voice of the Spirit who now recreates?
We need a new heart and a mind open wide – receptive to this hour of grace.
Just listen, my friend, to the vibrating wind, the answer is blowing
The Spirit that broods at creation’s first dawn, unravelling the chaos of life,
Continues to breathe in the birthing and dying, in the longing, the struggle and strife.
For God’s sake don’t tie down the Spirit that blows, reweaving the rhythms of time.
We’re called to befriend what’s blowing in the wind, the Spirit who blows in . . .
Fr. Diarmuid O’Murchu msc
We need to get the grammar right:
the Holy Spirit is not only past tense, but present tense as well.
We need to get the math right: the Holy Spirit of the New Testament equals the Holy Spirit of our present time and circumstances.
We need to get the colours right: the Holy Spirit doesn't belong to just one race, but to all colours.
We need to get the language right: the Holy Spirit doesn't just speak in our language, but in many tongues.
We need to get the location right: the Holy Spirit doesn't belong only behind our closed church doors, but has burst out into the whole world.
If the Holy Spirit is not confined, then how can we tell where the Spirit is present?
Just keep your eyes and ears open for the fire and the breath of new life!
Fr. Jude Siciliano op
The Scriptures challenge us with stories of hospitality.
Angels arrive unannounced at the tent of Abraham and Sarah
and then promise an impossible gift of life.
A prostitute bargains with spies for her safety
and the way is opened for the Hebrew people to come into a new land.
A widow shares her last loaf with one who is hungry
and an endless supply wells up from emptiness.
May we, with your help, quell our resistance and anxiety
and dare to be ridiculously hospitable.
Even when we are unprepared,
have little to share,
and are confronted with the strangeness of the other,
may the folly and possibility of hospitality transform us.
For the sake of the kingdom
Written by Andrea Dean while at the One Heart, Many Voices: Catholic Mission Conference 2017 inspired by the workshop “Mission and Hospitality”.
Reflections on the readings
Jesus reminds us today that the people who welcome and accept the gift of the Spirit are people who welcome peace and forgiveness and can recognise the divine stalking among them and in creation despite fears, anxieties, differences of views and dreams.
Luke (Acts of the Apostles) indicates in rosy terms how the wider world was impacted by the Spirit - in ways that people could hear and understand one another as well as acknowledge God’s all-inclusive salvific love. The Spirit has come over the people from many lands now gathered in Jerusalem…. and as always an endless array of voices and understanding. All speak. And all listen. Diversity became a blessing where people previously maintained and protected their differences behind walls of ethnocentrism. Irrespective of ethnic background, nothing was lost by becoming one with all others who understood that God was moving among them. They saw gradually that they had a part in God’s plan and were being given the courage to move that plan forward.
But there is also a disconnect between Jesus’ words in John’s gospel, and how they have been understood. It is not something new as there is still a glaring disconnect in our world today. It is the same world that Jesus trod which had its unrest, terrorist acts, anxiety, the factionalism, the manoeuvring, leaks and betrayals, and these continue. Were the disciples really of one mind as the Acts suggests. They did not understand Jesus despite all his teachings. Pentecost occurred in a world of divided opinions and endless arguments which still abound. Recently, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of New Jersey called people to say no to "heartless" deportation policies in the USA whereas Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas wanted people to say no to the Girl Scouts, and the word "yoga" because it is a Hindu word. Tobin believes that "What topples evil empires is the little person who goes into the square in the middle of town in the dark of the night and scrawls on the wall, 'No,' and continues, "And I want to say to you, we are the No that God scrawls on the wall. We are the No to a nation who is heartless, who would deport people, separating them from their families and their loved ones simply because they are victims of a broken system." Naumann instructed priests to phase out their affiliation with the Girl Scouts of USA and move students toward a Christian-based group because he believes that the Girl Scouts, despite their denials, are aligned with Planned Parenthood and groups that support the legal right to abortion. Things have not changed but one thing but the disciples did share an attitude of goodwill, even though they did not understand.
The gospel reminds us that the wisdom of Easter is peace spoken and received. The tongues are the voices that speak for God. They are the voices that remind us of the beauty of creation and the need to protect it. They are the voices that remind us that we are all sisters and brothers and bear God’s image. They are the voices that challenge inequality. They are the voices that call for peace with justice through forgiveness and reconciliation. Maybe we do not always hear because we are preoccupied with the demeanour and the experiences of loud public voices - yet those who speak for God often come to us from people we might dismiss. Maya Angelou was a molested child, shuttled between her grandmother and her mother, an unwed mother at 18, trolley car conductor, nightclub singer, pimp, prostitute, and thanks to the support of people like Langston Hughes, author, professor, US poet laureate…. voiced this prayer:
Father, Mother, God
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
for then we have you to lean upon.
Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we
have with those who have less.
And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are
able to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.
For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.
For those who are lonely,
we ask you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to
all the world that which we need most —
Wendell Berry, a Kentucky farmer and poet, novelist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and ridiculed for taking the gospel seriously wrote:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
In 1938, Albert Camus, speaking to Christians at a monastery, expressed his concern that as preparations for the World War II were underway, the number of victims grew, and as fear spread, the Church seemed unconscionably silent. When it did speak out it was obtuse or abstract. He said bluntly:
For a long time during those frightful years I waited for a great voice to speak up in [the Church]. I, an unbeliever? Precisely. For I knew that the spirit would be lost if it did not utter a cry of condemnation when faced with force….What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, could arise in the heart of the simplest person. That they should get away from abstraction and confront the bloodstained face history has taken on today. The grouping we need is a grouping of people resolved to speak out clearly and to pay up personally.
The Holy Spirit is a very political bird. Border protection cannot stop it. Authoritative lines are not only crossed but blown off the spiritual map. Among other things, it signifies public freedom and freedom from fear. We might ask: will our lives be ruled by fear? Will we collaborate in our own oppression and that of people who need our help? Will we allow ourselves to be confined or defined by other ‘authorities or powers’? Will we have the courage to speak out or will fear silence us? The locked doors in the gospel are more about a mentality where people duck and weave, lie low, run for cover or look over their shoulders when things get hot.
What begins in that upstairs room must be completed when it hits the streets. The good news of the Resurrection must go public. Otherwise it loses its power and relevance. In the Acts we see people who refuse to be held down by the political or religious authorities. They begin to speak voices that no one could doubt the meaning of.
Taking to the streets requires living out the inclusiveness of the Spirit. The lines of nation, race, and culture could not limit this movement. When Jesus breathed the Spirit upon the disciples they realised their responsibility to extend healing and forgiveness by becoming agents of the new creation – as we are too. We are empowered to bring forth justice, to transform social policy, to be a life-giving force, and liberate us to move beyond human failure into light and peace. That Spirit must also make us aware of incongruities, inequalities, injustice in our community Does that Spirit cause us to question how we so easily tolerate human rights abuses for the sake of some games? Does that Spirit cause us to question how we can spend millions of dollars for military spending but not raise a respectable percentage of that money for development aid? Does that Spirit cause us to question that we will bless cats and dogs and houses, bless weapons of war, but refuse to bless a couple that say they love each other and want to commit to each for life?
We are reminded that the Spirit is God acting in the world. Jesus’ footprints are still on the earth – they now become ours. Pentecost is less what one says today but more about the very public speech we find ourselves involved in each day; of the actions flowing from a compassionate heart; of choosing to speak even when we were not sure of what to say or what the consequences of that might be. The words of the prophet Joel are very heartening when he spoke of a day coming when God would say, ‘I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young people shall see visions, and your old people shall dream dreams.’ Everybody gets to speak up for God; because church is the place where the power to speak belongs to all – and it must go out into the ‘streets’, into the world of people.
The Spirit comes in different places, different circumstances and different people with fullness of life and healing. The words filled with Spirit were spoken from the margins of the Roman Empire. They continue to speak from the margins of our world. All in all we are engaging in the practice of justice where lies, cover-ups and denials seem to prevail. All are words to do with life, peace, freedom. The Jesus who comes with the wounds in his hands, feet and side reminds us that the Spirit will take us into those places of suffering in our world and that those places of suffering call forth from us our compassion and touch. And to celebrate the Spirit, to celebrate the power of peace and forgiveness is to become makers of peace and agents of forgiveness in a world in need of healing, wholeness and holiness. We become what we celebrate!
It is true that in our church, our churches, we muddle through times that we do not fully understand, with leaders who have lost our trust, or disappoint. Some mistrust the world that God loves and raise the barriers and others see fear as the real enemy – not the secular world.
Jesus’ peace will not bring an end to the babble of opinions or produce unity of thought. It will not bring the babble of opinions to a halt. It will never, not even for one day or one moment, produce unity of thought. And, as with the disciples in the Upper Room, we will each have our own experience of his presence, of what it means, of what confuses us about it, of how our fears are being addressed.
But we will be able, if we breathe deeply, to recognize in one another the face and peace of Jesus despite the difference in the way we see the world, the differences in our expectations of the future, and even the differences in our hopes. Because we recognize that the God to whom we turn loves us all, and comprehends the truth that each of us holds dear. Because we can, in the power of the Spirit, offer one another our Goodwill.