Scripture: Lectionary # 54. Acts 2:1-11. Psalm 104:1.24.29-30.31.34. I Cor.
12:3-7,12-13. John 20:19-23
Today, Pentecost Sunday, is associated with Coming of the Holy Spirit, and
the beginning of the Church. In our texts we have from Acts and from St.
John the day of the Coming of the Spirit is given by Luke as fifty days
after the Resurrection of Jesus. In John’s text the breathing of Jesus
upon Mary and the Beloved Disciple (John) represent the Coming of the
Spirit together with the symbols of the two sacraments of the Eucharist and
Baptism seen in the blood flowing from Jesus’ side combined with water
symbols of the two great sacraments.
Luke’s narrative is the one that gives us the naming of the feast as
Pentecost following the second of the pilgrimage feasts in the Jewish
calendar which was celebrated fifty days after the Passover. Some Jewish
sects maintained a celebration on a Sunday or the first day of the week in
the Jewish calendar while the Pharisees and rabbinic tradition are similar
to what Luke celebrates as the day of the Coming of the Holy Spirit upon
those one hundred and twenty gathered in the upper room praying devoutly
and waiting for Jesus’ promise to be fulfilled in the sending of the Holy
Spirit by the Father and the Son, Jesus.
We already have a mention of those gathered in the upper room where the
twelve apostles are mentioned including the one who took the place of Judas
Iscariot and the naming of one woman, the mother of Jesus, Mary. We focus
on her presence in this celebration today for the texts are seen as
pointing to her as being the image of the Church or even more personally as
Paul VI called her, the Mother of the Church. He did this as the final act
of the Vatican II Council.
In the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin there is a Mass which
celebrates Our Lady of the Cenacle or the upper room mentioned in Acts
1:12-14. “With one heart the disciples continued steadfast in prayer with
Mary, the mother of Jesus, alleluia.” We read in the introduction to the
feast: “The Church has come to see our Lady, present at the first gathering
of Christ’s disciples (Entrance Antiphon, see Acts 1:14), a mother
cherishing the infant Church in her love and the supreme example of prayer
in oneness of heart.”
We recall that Luke the literary painter of the Gospel and Acts presents
scenes that form a dyptich or parallel narrative or genre to what happens
in the first two chapters of his Gospel–for example the Annunciation to
Zechariah parallels that of Mary’s greeting by the Angel Gabriel; the
naming of the child Jesus has been foreshadowed and paralleled in the
naming of John the Baptist; Mary’s Magnificat has been paralleled in the
Benedictus of Zehariah about his son John the Baptist. This can also be
seen in the theological themes of Luke as we see Mary’s awaiting the
overshadowing of the Holy Spirit in the Incarnation of her son Jeus and
then in his second work the Holy Spirit now descends on Mary, the only
named woman (mother of Jesus) as the Church is being born. We through
custom call this the feast the birthday of the Church and Mary is there
just as Christ was conceived in her womb at the Annunciation and now at the
birthing of the Church. She more than the twelve who are named and the
other hundred plus who are not named in the upper room has the honor of
being named and confirmed as the Mother of the Church.
We learn that she is the image of the Church and its model for what can be
called the Church at prayer (Ecclesia-Orans). “…above all, she is the
model of prayer, for God has given us a wonderful example of prayer in the
Church at its beginning namely, the mother of Jesus as she prays with the
apostles in oneness of mind and heart. The one who waited in prayer for the
coming of Christ is still at prayer as she calls upon the promised
Paraclete. A model of harmony, unity, and peace; of obedience to the voice
of the Holy Spirit; of watchfulness in waiting for the Second Coming of
Christ; of faithful observance of the word of God (Luke 2:19) and eagerness
to sow its seed.” (Luke 8:8, 15).
We may wish to recall our confirmation on this day which focuses on the
Holy Spirit who strengthens our baptismal commitment and matures us into
the wholeness and love of Christ. The Jewish tradition has also many
confirmations at this feastday of Shavuot (Pentecost) and calls it a
The Holy Spirit descends upon each one in the upper room but all are united
in prayer and peacefulness. Mary as the individual singled out is seen as
the example par excellence of the Church at prayer. Her courageous faith
during the sufferings and death of Jesus have brought her to this moment of
new birth and confirmation in her own consecration to God that she is our
Mother and Model for this day. We await patiently through our prayer for
the coming of the Spirit upon us as we gather to be of one mind and heart
at the Eucharist.
We known that in the Gospel of John the Church is born on Easter Sunday
with Jesus’ breathing his last breath upon the Beloved Disciple and the
Mother of Jesus. We have seen that Luke in his Gospel refers to Jesus
glorification on Easter Sunday when all happens on that one glorious day.
(See chapter 24 of Luke that differs from the Acts which counts forty more
days of Jesus’ appearing to his disciples).
We pray with the whole Church: “Lord our God, as the Blessed Virgin was at
prayer with the apostles you poured out on her in abundance the gifts of
the Holy Spirit; grant, through her intercession that we, too, being filled
with the same Spirit, may persevere with one mind in prayer and bring to
the world around us the good news of salvation. We ask this through our
Lord Jesus Christ your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.” Alleluiah.