Sunday, June 8, 2014

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker
By Father Perry D. Leiker

Pentecost (from the Greek pentecoste, “50th day”) follows Easter by 50 days, and the ascension by 10 days.

The refrain from the responsorial psalm cries out: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!”

Its importance, however, is not in the number of days but, rather, what took place on that day. We understand it to be the birthday of the church.

The biblical texts narrate an outpouring of God’s Spirit upon the gathered disciples. In the details of the event, so much energy and life is described. Simply lifting some of the words from the readings for today’s liturgy gives us a taste of the feast: “Suddenly came a noise like a strong driving wind; there appeared tongues as of fire; they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues; they were astounded.”

The Gospel hearkens back to the Easter night scene when Jesus appeared in the upper room: “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’”

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, boldly declares what the Spirit does. It is in and by the Spirit that we proclaim Jesus as Lord; all kinds of gifts, service, workings and benefits come about through the Spirit. The fullest and ultimate bonding of intimate unity happens through the Spirit making us “one body in Christ”: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”

In the Holy Spirit, the ultimate crossing of all boundaries happens: we are no longer Jews, Greeks, slaves, free persons — we are all ONE!

Imagine if Pentecost — celebrated, presumably, by all Christians — were truly a present event, not just a memory. Imagine if the power unleashed by the Holy Spirit and recorded in the scriptures were present, real, effective and creating the same spirit-life within us today.

We celebrate Pentecost today. That is our prayer. Like the responsorial psalm, may our lives cry out: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!”

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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