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A Homily For Pentecost Sunday - Year A
Friar Sydney Mascarenhas. O.F.M., Ph.D

     The following Homily is provided by Friar Sidney as a
     way of enriching the ministry of the Word as presented
     through this web site.  Frair Sidney, who has spent
     much of his ministry in India, is currently a
     Professor of Philosophy in Rome.  He can be reached at

Acts 2:1-11; I Cor 12:3-7,12-13 and John 20:19-23.  

Let us meditate today on what spirit binds us and what spirit
creates discord among us. Let us delve into the factors that keep
us from understanding one another.  

There are so many families whom I know. I want to mention
abstractly just one of them. They were a lovely, large family, so
rarely seen today. They all adored their father. They all enjoyed
his wealth. Their father was a very generous man. He saw to it
that all had more than they needed.  One day the father died. The
problems then showed up. Everybody was talking about his/her
share in the inheritance. Discord set in. The family is today
broken. Brother does not see brother. Sister does not see sister.
Brother does not see sister. The children do not see their
mother. The mother does not see the children. Each speaks of the
way he/ she has been wronged by the other members of the family.
According to the children, the worst culprit is their mother. 
She has swallowed everything.  Terrible isn't it? Is this the
harvest of the seed sown by the father?  

Pentecost  means fiftieth day. It was the second of three great
Jewish Feasts. It was a day of gratitude. It was a day of
thanksgiving for the completion of the harvest.  We have seen
Christ come into this world. We have seen him sow the Spirit of
God. We have seen this Spirit work wonders among the blind, the
sick, the lame and hungry.  We saw him condemned and yet, return
to those who condemned and deserted him. We saw him coax his
disciples to raise their eyes and look beyond their own little
world. We saw Christ let his disciples  experience His Ascension. 
Today he appears again. While they, perplexed, dumfounded and
disappointed, still were closeted in a little upper room.  
Rightly, we are not told where that room was situated.  We only
know that room was in a house in Jerusalem where people from
every nation under heaven had come to express their harvest
gratitude. They spoke different languages. They came with
different intentions. They had different motives.  It is this
motley group who witness a sound  that made them assemble
together. To their astonishment, some Galilean spoke to them in
their own native language. To their astonishment, some unheard of
illiterates spoke the language they understood. This is really
astonishing.   We all know how difficult it is to learn another
language. We all know how difficult it is to speak and write in
another language. It takes years of listening to the phonetics
and exercising the syntax structures of a language, before we
feel at ease in another language.  Yet we are told that these
illiterates spoke and people, coming from various nations,
understood them. It is the hearers and not the speakers who make
this claim!  This was the novel experience of the new harvest,
Pentecost!  Why is it that we rarely experience such a harvest
today? St Paul gives us a clue. No one can say, "Jesus is Lord"
unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. [I Cor 12:3]

It is really not easy to understand one another unless we shed
our mold of feelings and expression. Each does have his oddities
that jar the sensibilities of another. Each does have to ascend
out of his/her set habits and expressions before reaching out to
others. To understand someone else, we need to dethrone ourselves
and enthrone the Other in our midst. And in order to enthrone the
Other in our midst, we surely have to forgive self-centered
habits and ways in others, but even more: we have to forgive them
in our selves.  It is for this reason that the Lord says:

Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they
are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.
[Jn 20:23] 

Unfortunately,  we often retain the sins of others and ourselves.
Therefore we do not harvest the fruits of God's Spirit among us. 
It is very striking that no mention is made of the place where
the Apostles experienced that the Holy Spirit came and dwelt
among them. I would like to believe that such details were
intentionally left out. Why? Because such a situation could be 
any time and  any place where people closet themselves.  

Do we get the hint? Are we ready to say: Jesus is Lord!  Are we
ready to forget the pain, the insults, the injustice we have to
bear and experience. Are we ready to ascend beyond our horizons
and see them from the vantage point of the Lord in our midst? Is
it not true that our cities look like jewels when we fly over
them at night? Shalom!

copyright - Friar Sydney Mascarenhas 1999
            Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1999 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

For Another Look At The Texts For This Sunday see
Sermon and Liturgy for Pentecost Sunday - Year A

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