May 24, 2015: Pentecost Sunday
Catholic Social Teaching: Call to Family, Community and Participation
The sacredness and dignity of human life exists not in isolation, but affirmed through individuals growing in community and seeking together the well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
First Reading: Acts 2:1-11
Psalm: 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
Second Reading: 1st Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Galatians 5:16-25
Gospel: John 20:19-23 or John 15:26-27;16:12-15
Catechism of the Catholic Church
On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance (731)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to Pentecost Sunday, Cycle B
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The Old Testament presents God as the omnipotent Creator (cf. Gen 2:2; Job 38-41; Ps104; Ps 147) who fashions man in his image and invites him to work the soil (cf. Gen 2:5-6),and cultivate and care for the garden of Eden in which he has placed him (cf. Gen 2:15). To the first human couple God entrusts the task of subduing the earth and exercising dominion over every living creature (cf. Gen 1:28). The dominion exercised by man over other living creatures, however, is not to be despotic or reckless; on the contrary he is to “cultivate and care for” (Gen 2:15) the goods created by God. These goods were not created by man, but have been received by him as a precious gift that the Creator has placed under his responsibility. Cultivating the earth means not abandoning it to itself; exercising dominion over it means taking care of it, as a wise king cares for his people and a shepherd his sheep.
In the Creator’s plan, created realities, which are good in themselves, exist for man’s use. The wonder of the mystery of man’s grandeur makes the psalmist exclaim: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than god, and crown him with glory and honour. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Ps 8:5-7). (255)
The relationship of man with the world is a constitutive part of his human identity. This relationship is in turn the result of another still deeper relationship between man and God. The Lord has made the human person to be a partner with him in dialogue. Only in dialogue with God does the human being find his truth, from which he draws inspiration and norms to make plans for the future of the world, which is the garden that God has given him to keep and till (cf. Gen 2: 15). Not even sin could remove this duty, although it weighed down this exalted work with pain and suffering (cf. Gen 3:17-19).
Creation is always an object of praise in Israel’s prayer: “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all” (Ps 104:24). Salvation is perceived as a new creation that re-establishes that harmony and potential for growth that sin had compromised: “I create new heavens and a new earth” (Is 65:17) — says the Lord — in which “the wilderness becomes a fruitful field … and righteousness [will] abide in the fruitful field … My people will abide in a peaceful habitation” (Is 32:1518) (452)
The documents referred to here constitute the milestones of the path travelled by the Church’s social doctrine from the time of Pope Leo XIII to our own day. This brief summary would become much longer if we considered all the interventions motivated, other than by a specific theme, by “the pastoral concern to present to the entire Christian community and to all men of good will the fundamental principles, universal criteria and guidelines suitable for suggesting basic choices and coherent practice for every concrete situation”.
In the formulation and teaching of this social doctrine, the Church has been, and continues to be, prompted not by theoretical motivation but by pastoral concerns. She is spurred on by the repercussions that social upheavals have on people, on multitudes of men and women, on human dignity itself, in contexts where “man painstakingly searches for a better world, without working with equal zeal for the betterment of his own spirit”. For these reasons, this social doctrine has arisen and developed an “updated doctrinal ‘corpus’ … [that] builds up gradually, as the Church, in the fullness of the word revealed by Christ Jesus and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 14:16,26; 16:13-15), reads events as they unfold in the course of history”. (104)
The love that inspires Jesus’ ministry among men is the love that he has experienced in his intimate union with the Father. The New Testament allows us to enter deeply into the experience, that Jesus himself lives and communicates, the love of God his Father — “Abba” — and, therefore, it permits us to enter into the very heart of divine life. Jesus announces the liberating mercy of God to those whom he meets on his way, beginning with the poor, the marginalized, the sinners. He invites all to follow him because he is the first to obey God’s plan of love, and he does so in a most singular way, as God’s envoy in the world.
Jesus’ self-awareness of being the Son is an expression of this primordial experience. The Son has been given everything, and freely so, by the Father: “All that the Father has is mine” (Jn 16:15). His in turn is the mission of making all men sharers in this gift and in this filial relationship: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15). (29)
John 20:19, 21, 26
The promise of peace that runs through the entire Old Testament finds its fulfilment in the very person of Jesus. Peace, in fact, is the messianic attribute par excellence, in which all other beneficial effects of salvation are included. The Hebrew word “shalom” expresses this fullness of meaning in its etymological sense of “completeness” (cf. Is 9:5ff; Mic 5:1-4). The kingdom of the Messiah is precisely the kingdom of peace (cf. Job 25:2; Ps 29:11; 37:11; 72:3,7; 85:9,11; 119:165; 125:5, 128:6; 147:14; Song 8:10; Is 26:3,12; 32:17f.; 52:7; 54:10; 57:19; 60:17; 66:12; Hag 2:9; Zech 9:10; et al.). Jesus “is our peace” (Eph 2:14). He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility among people, reconciling them with God (cf.Eph 2:14-16). This is the very effective simplicity with which Saint Paul indicates the radical motivation spurring Christians to undertake a life and a mission of peace.
On the eve of his death, Jesus speaks of his loving relation with the Father and the unifying power that this love bestows upon his disciples. It is a farewell discourse which reveals the profound meaning of his life and can be considered a summary of all his teaching. The gift of peace is the seal on his spiritual testament: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The words of the Risen Lord will not be any different; every time that he meets his disciples they receive from him the greeting and gift of peace: “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36; Jn 20:19,21,26). (491)
Professionals in the field of media are not the only people with ethical duties. Those who make use of the media also have obligations. Media operators who try to meet their responsibilities deserve audiences who are aware of their own responsibilities. The first duty of media users is to be discerning and selective. Parents, families and the Church have precise responsibilities they cannot renounce. For those who work, in various capacities, in the area of social communications, the warning of St. Paul rings out loud and clear: “Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another … Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:25, 29). Serving the human person through the building up of a human community based on solidarity, justice and love, and spreading the truth about human life and its final fulfilment in God remain at the heart of ethics in the media. In the light of faith, human communication can be seen as a journey from Babel to Pentecost, or rather, as the personal and social commitment to overcome the collapse of communication (cf. Gen 11:4-8), opening people to the gift of tongues (cf. Acts 2:5-11), to communication as restored by the power of the Spirit sent by the Son. (562)
The Lord Jesus is the prototype and foundation of the new humanity. In him, the true “likeness of God” (2 Cor 4:4), man — who is created in the image of God — finds his fulfilment. In the definitive witness of love that God has made manifest in the cross of Christ, all the barriers of enmity have already been torn down (cf. Eph 2:12-18), and for those who live a new life in Christ, racial and cultural differences are no longer causes of division (cf.Rom 10:12; Gal 3:26-28; Col 3:11).
Thanks to the Spirit, the Church is aware of the divine plan of unity that involves the entire human race (cf. Acts 17:26), a plan destined to reunite in the mystery of salvation wrought under the saving Lordship of Christ (cf. Eph 1:8-10) all of created reality, which is fragmented and scattered. From the day of Pentecost, when the Resurrection is announced to diverse peoples, each of whom understand it in their own language (cf. Acts 2:6), the Church fulfils her mission of restoring and bearing witness to the unity lost at Babel. Due to this ecclesial ministry, the human family is called to rediscover its unity and recognize the richness of its differences, in order to attain “full unity in Christ”. (431)
“God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34; cf. Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9), since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness. The Incarnation of the Son of God shows the equality of all people with regard to dignity: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28; cf. Rom 10:12; 1 Cor 12:13, Col 3:11).
Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of man before other men. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class. (144)
The birth of Pentecost filled the entire house, for the Holy Spirit abounds, seeking to leave no voids. Not rationed to a few select leaders, but came to rest on each person present at the gathering. Are we present to the Holy Spirit in our prayer and worship or too busy in self-absorbed conversation that we fail to welcome the Divine presence? Or do we douse the fire of the Holy Spirit with our fear of where we are asked to go, words we are asked to speak or actions placed on our heart to undertake? Instead we must let the fire of the Holy Spirit consume us, so we become light in the world, voices and breath proclaiming the mighty acts of God and renewing the face of the earth. A collective process of complementary gifts, imparted by the same Spirit, where we use our gifts and affirm the gifts of others. Fostering an integration of diversity, the many parts in collaboration defuse rivalry, jealousy, acts of selfishness, dissension, factions and envy. Pentecost fulfills the awe of Easter, so we more deeply become absorbed in the mystery. The Holy Spirit guides us to all truth to:
Let us serve with love, not duty
Infuse us with the joy of the Lord to free us from obsession of our unworthiness of Divine friendship
Patience to endure in a world appearing dysfunctional, for we have hope
The strength to do acts of kindness, where hate scars humanity
Generosity beyond writing a check, but give of ourselves to be present to others
Faithfulness to respect all people as our brothers and sisters
Gentleness, to not dominate, demand our way, but listen, cooperate and love
Self-control to know our gift of the Holy Spirit and keenness to realize when and how to integrate the gifts of others, for we are just one of many parts of the body of Christ
Sealed by the Gift of the Holy Spirit, we rejoice for Jesus is in our midst and we experience His words, “Peace be with you,” continually refreshing, sustaining and sending us forth into the world. May to renew the face of the earth with work pleasing to Him be our theme, with gladness in the Lord.
Individual Reflection: Galatians 5:16-25
Reflecting on your gift of the Spirit, what fruit does it produce to renew the face of the earth?
Family Reflection:1st Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
Discuss what gift of the Holy Spirit each family member has. How can each gift be better utilized?
Prayer: Adapted from prayer at Confirmation:
All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed us, your daughters and sons, from sin and gave us new life. May the Holy Spirit be our helper and guide. Give us the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill us with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presences. In Jesus, Your Son’s name we pray, Amen.
Blogs to Visit:
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Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
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List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born, May 18, 2015 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.