Commentary for Pentecost – Year B

Homily ideas:

1) Happy birthday to the Church! She has gifts for each one of you today. Are you ready to receive them?

Resources used:

St. Charles Borromeo Bible Study.

First Reading: Acts 2:1–11
2 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.

Background for Pentecost: Pentecost, from the Greek word pentecoste, meaning 50th, also called “the harvest festival” (Exodus 23:14-17) or “the feast of weeks” (Ex 34:22, Numbers 28:26-31), is one of the three major Israelite-Jewish festivals. Originally seven weeks after the beginning of the grain harvest, this feast now occurs 50 days after Passover to commemorate the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, when the Lord revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. With Christ, Pentecost is now set 50 days after the first Easter and 10 days since Christ ascended into heaven. The disciples are now waiting in the Upper Room in Jerusalem to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5).

2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

There is a phonetic relationship in the Greek between “pnue” (wind) and “pneuma” (spirit).

3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6 And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

The root of the word translated as “bewildered” is the same as the word used in the Septuagint to describe the effect of the tower of Babel. The effect is reversed here.

7 Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”
Psalm: Psalm 104:1, 24, 29–31, 34
Second Reading: Option A: 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13
3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Paul advises the Corinthians about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. First, all gifts have the same origin and therefore the same value. Second, all gifts are to be used to promote the common good. Third, we need each others gifts to complete the Body of Christ (the whole is greater than the sum of its parts).

Option B: Galatians 5:16–25

Paul is writing to the Galatian Christians, a group largely Gentile of origin yet led astray by “false brethren,” Judaizers, who made out that Christians should conform to the Mosaic law and, therefore, be circumcised. The section of this letter addresses the correct use of Christian freedom in the New Covenant.

16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.

To “live by the Spirit”, literally to “walk by the Spirit,” is a Semitic phrase to meaning to “conduct oneself.”

The flesh” is a symbol for all that is opposed to God.

“By ‘flesh’ he means not the physical body but the evil choice… By ‘flesh’ here he means earthly thoughts that are apathetic and heedless. This is not a condemnation of the body but a reproach of the apathetic soul. For the flesh is an instrument, and no one repudiates and hates the instrument as such, but only the one who handles the instrument badly” [Saint John Chrysostom (between A.D. 393-397), Commentary on the Epistle To The Galatians, 5,17]

17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Gospel: Option A: John 20:19–23
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Option B: John 15:26–27, 16:12–15
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
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