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Gospel reflection for Pentecost Sunday (Year C)May 24, 2007
Sister Veronica Lawson RSM (
Pentecost Sunday is often called the birthday of the Church. For the ancient Israelites, Pentecost (meaning “˜fiftieth’) was a harvest festival celebrated fifty days after the opening of the harvest. When the
In today’s first reading (Acts 2:1-11), Luke tells the new Pentecost story in symbolic language that evokes the story of Moses and the people of Israel receiving God’s Law on Mount Sinai. Just as God’s presence to
For the teaching at the heart of the new covenant, we turn to the gospel reading from John 20:19-23. The risen Christ appears to the disciples who are huddled behind locked doors. He offers the simple greeting: “Peace be with you,” the greeting we offer each other at every Eucharistic celebration. He sends them on a mission of peace in continuity with his own God-inspired mission. He breathes on them the gift of the Holy Spirit and tells them that God will forgive those whom they forgive, and will “˜retain’ or “˜seize hold of’ the transgressions of those whose sins or transgressions they “˜retain’.
To seize hold of wrong-doing is to expose it and deal with it. Sometimes it is best to forgive and simply allow everyone to move on. In other situations, an easy amnesty only exacerbates the problem. Much of the enduring conflict in our world derives from the inability of ordinary people and of leaders to know how to deal with transgression. The Holy Spirit is the unique source of our power to forgive, of our power to refrain from vengeance, and of our capacity to deal with the perpetrators of violence.