Video Lessons on the “four pillars” of the Catechism
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Reception of the Holy Spirit
The First Reading addresses the second stage in the expansion of the Church according to the command Jesus gave His disciples at His Ascension (Acts 1:8). The first stage was the baptism of the Church in Jerusalem with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 1:4, 2:1-11). The second stage was the spread of the Gospel throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:5, 40). The third stage started with the founding of the Church in Gentile lands like Antioch, Syria (Acts 11:20), and from there reaching “to the ends of the earth” (Mt 28:19-20).
Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
God’s mighty works of salvation
In the Responsorial Psalm, the psalmist speaks of the salvation of God’s people as a unified covenant nation and as individuals. The Psalm begins with an invitation to all the earth to proclaim the glory of the Divine Name. Next, he mentions what God did for Israel in the Exodus liberation before turning from what God has done for Israel to what God has done for him. Finally, he blesses God, who both hears his prayers and extends His mercy to the psalmist.
1 Pt 3:15-18
Life in the Spirit
In the Second Reading, St. Peter writes that God the Holy Spirit is the reason for our hope as the Church moves into the third stage of her mission to evangelize the world. He urges the faithful to sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope (1 Pt 3:15). St. Peter eloquently states the mission of Christian witness that he urges the communities of the Church spread across Asia Minor to accept. Christians must always be ready to give a defense or testimony of the Gospel, which is their hope of salvation, even when confronted with persecution and suffering.
The eternal presence of God the Holy Spirit
In our Gospel Reading from Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper, He told His disciples that He would not remain visibly among them. However, He assured them He would be with them through the mission of the Holy Spirit, who He would send to be their Advocate, Counselor, and Defender. Jesus identifies God the Holy Spirit as a person and not merely a force. He refers to the Holy Spirit using the masculine pronoun “He,” and uses three prepositions in the Greek text to describe the Spirit’s relationship to the believer. Jesus said He will be “with you always,” He “remains with/by you,” and “will be in you,” meaning dwelling within you. Jesus assures every believer that God the Holy Spirit will be “with you” as your companion in fellowship, “by you” in His position as your advocate and counselor, and “in you” as the indwelling personal God who is your source of supernatural life.
1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way? Which part of the Passion story speaks to you most this year? Why?
2. In the first reading, Peter’s congregation is “cut to the heart” as they hear him preach. Has this kind of conviction or spiritual awakening ever happened to you as a result of a homily or as a result of some other event in your life?
3. What are forms of slavery (second reading) in our world today? What if anything, can we do to oppose slavery?
4. What are traits of a good shepherd? How can you be a good shepherd to others?5. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.
©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Questions for Discussion
1. Do you sometimes have a sense that Jesus is very close, at your very side, in your heart of hearts, as you go through the experiences of life? When is this most real for you? When you are experiencing pain? Or when you are experiencing joy? Do you feel the presence of Christ being with you when you are with someone you love?
2. Has Jesus kept his promise to you not to leave you orphaned? In what ways have you known that the promise was kept? Can you give testimony to others that Jesus never abandons those whom he loves? From your own personal experience, can you relate a story of the comfort and power which Jesus has brought to your life?
3. In what sense is Jesus still present in the Church community? Share your faith in the abiding presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in other sacraments, in the Scriptures, in the gatherings of the community itself.
© 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Call to Action
Try to be more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit within you. In preparation for the Feast of Pentecost, consider making a Novena to the Holy Spirit beginning this Friday.
Holy Spirit, help me to be more aware and responsive to your promptings in my daily life.
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen. (St. Augustine)
Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.
EXCERPT — Depending upon where we live, many of us are unaware of those who actually suffer because of their faith. But many circumstances can challenge our commitment: politics, economic choices, job decisions, or lifestyle. Like the early Christians, we are promised the guiding presence of the Spirit. How prepared are we to suffer for or at least be uncomfortable with living the Gospel? How open are we to the Spirit’s influence in our lives?PENITENTIAL ACT
|Lord Jesus, you call us to keep your commandments: Lord, have mercy.||Christ Jesus, you promised to send us the Spirit as our advocate: Christ, have mercy.||Lord Jesus, you do not leave us alone in our commitment to you: Lord, have mercy.|
NCR SUNDAY RESOURCES – Joan DeMerchant
EXCERPT – God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. It is only when we know this truth that we can be people of hope. For what is hope? Hope is to believe that there is something beyond our strength and our cleverness and our abilities. Even though we are always called to use our strength and cleverness and abilities, when they fail us, hope can continue. There is something beyond ourselves which is close to us: the presence of God. Because of that presence, we can hope even when we lose our job, even when we discover that our son is abusing drugs, even when our marriage fails, even when we are handed a frightening diagnosis from the doctor, even when we hurt someone we love, even when death is on the horizon.
RELATED HOMILIES BY FR. SIGMA: Listening to the Holy Spirit, A name for the Holy Spirit
BUILDING ON THE WORD – Fr. George Sigma
EXCERPT – Since the Holy Spirit, by its very nature, has no bodily form, the Church uses several different symbols to represent the Spirit: Water, Anointing, Fire, Cloud and Light, Seal, Hand, Finger, Dove.
Water: Inthe waters of baptism, the Spirit of God engenders new life in us. Just as our earthly birth is associated with “breaking of water,” so is our spiritual rebirth in the waters of the baptismal font. All life comes from water, even in the natural order. The water that flowed from the side of Christ on the cross represents the new life won for sinners by his death.
Anointing: With chrism, at baptism and in confirmation, the Holy Spirit is represented as given to the believer. Jesus himself was “anointed with the Holy Spirit”as manifested at his baptism. Thus, his title of Messiah, a Hebrew word which means “Christ” or “anointed by God” in the Greek language. Jesus came to be born of the Virgin Mary by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, so that at his birth the angel could proclaim him as “Christ” or “the Anointed One.”This anointing continues in the life of the Church where the full measure of Christ is achieved. (READ MORE)
Echoing God’s WordS – Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017)
EXCERPT – Never forget that the Holy Spirit dwells within you, not far away in some cosmic location! Baptism and Confirmation bring the fullness of the Holy Spirit into your life – the same effect as if Jesus were walking with you and living in your house! That is a tremendous consolation, knowing we can call upon the Spirit of God within us in our time of need – which is every day of our lives. The Father sends us the Holy Spirit because Jesus asks Him to do so; this Spirit is the Advocate – “he who is called to one’s side” – always there to lead us to all Truth (CCC #692). The gift of the Spirit imparted by the Sacrament of Confirmation perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church (CCC #1288).
EXCERPT — n a time of social distancing, the reception of sacraments has been limited or delayed. Because physical, sacramental rituals are an important way to express faith and connection with God and one another, the absence of them can lead to a feeling of abandonment, similar to that of the apostles in the Gospel. How can people receive the Spirit without baptism and confirmation? How can we have God within us without regularly receiving the Eucharist? Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is not constrained in the same ways we are. Sacraments connect us to God’s grace in concrete and visible ways, but they are not the only vehicles for grace. Remember that when Jesus promises the Spirit, he does not limit it to baptism or laying on hands. The Spirit is promised freely as an advocate (Gk. paraclete), a defender and a comforter, who resides within the community whose members love one another.
AMERICA MAGAZINE – Jamie Waters
EXCERPT — Now we meet an important expression of Jesus, repeated twice: “keep my commandments”. This is an important and fundamental fact, because the authenticity of my love relationship with the Lord depends on it; if I do not keep his commandments, then I do not love him. But I try to ask myself more carefully what does the verb “keep” mean, which looks so cold, so distant. I find it for instance in Mt 27: 36, where we read that the soldiers kept watch over the crucified Jesus; it is then a matter of close and scrupulous watching, an untiring watchfulness. On the other hand in Jn 2: 10, it appears with the meaning of keeping in store, reserving, as Jesus says of the good wine kept until last. 2 Timothy 4: 7 uses the verb in that wonderful verse on faith: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”. This emphasizes the effort, the great care used to safeguard and watch over that precious thing, faith. In Jn 17: 15, Jesus prays the Father to keep his own from the evil one, that is to preserve, protect, so that nothing and no one would harm or disperse them. This is not simply a cold and external keeping of the commandments of God or of Jesus, but much more; this is a relationship of love, a being careful, protecting, keeping in life. Fundamentally it is realizing that which I am told or asked, in my day to day life, every moment and in every situation.
THE ORDER OF CARMELITES – Lectio Divina: Sundays of Lent
EXCERPT — “The Jesuit paleontologist Fr. Teilhard de Chardin might call our genetic heritage the raw material with which we begin. In a letter to a young friend, Teilhard left us counsel about exercising patience in the process of becoming who we really are and can be. He said, “We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown … and yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability — and that it may take a very long time.” Teilhard’s advice offers us a way to think about Jesus’ message in today’s Gospel. We are still at the table of the Last Supper and Jesus is explaining that soon his followers will not know him in the flesh as they had until the time of his passion. This is a hard transition, their time of instability. Of course, they don’t want to let go of what they have, much less face what he has told them is coming. But he promises that he won’t leave them as orphans.” …Teilhard counsels us, “Trust in the slow work of God.” We cannot force what grace and a bazillion serendipitous events acting on our goodwill will make of us tomorrow. We can only trust that they will transform us and our whole world.
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER – Mary M. McGlone, CSJ
EXCERPT — As for those young people who might leave us, the last chapter is not yet written for their lives. Just as our church itself has a long and winding history, so do the great majority of its communicants. Through it all, what is most important is that the believer, as well as the believing community, pass on to its young the great truth that Jesus Christ has saved us. Such is the ground of our faith and hope as well as of all the Spirit’s gifts. That is why it is only into God’s hands that we entrust our lives—and the lives of those we love.
SUNDAY WEB SITE – Father John Kavanaugh, SJ
THIS WEEK’S CATECHISM EXCERPTS
“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.”
From the Homiletic Directory
CCC 243, 388, 692, 729, 1433, 1848: the Holy Spirit as Advocate/Consoler
CCC 1083, 2670-2672: invoking the Holy Spirit
Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
2746 When “his hour” came, Jesus prayed to the Father.43 His prayer, the longest transmitted by the Gospel, embraces the whole economy of creation and salvation, as well as his death and Resurrection. The prayer of the Hour of Jesus always remains his own, just as his Passover “once for all” remains ever present in the liturgy of his Church.
2747 Christian Tradition rightly calls this prayer the “priestly” prayer of Jesus. It is the prayer of our high priest, inseparable from his sacrifice, from his passing over (Passover) to the Father to whom he is wholly “consecrated.”44
2748 In this Paschal and sacrificial prayer, everything is recapitulated in Christ:45 God and the world; the Word and the flesh; eternal life and time; the love that hands itself over and the sin that betrays it; the disciples present and those who will believe in him by their word; humiliation and glory. It is the prayer of unity.
2749 Jesus fulfilled the work of the Father completely; his prayer, like his sacrifice, extends until the end of time. The prayer of this hour fills the end-times and carries them toward their consummation. Jesus, the Son to whom the Father has given all things, has given himself wholly back to the Father, yet expresses himself with a sovereign freedom46 by virtue of the power the Father has given him over all flesh. The Son, who made himself Servant, is Lord, the Pantocrator. Our high priest who prays for us is also the one who prays in us and the God who hears our prayer.
2750 By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us: “Our Father!” His priestly prayer fulfills, from within, the great petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: concern for the Father’s name;47 passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory);48 the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation;49 and deliverance from evil.50
2751 Finally, in this prayer Jesus reveals and gives to us the “knowledge,” inseparably one, of the Father and of the Son,51 which is the very mystery of the life of prayer.
The Holy Spirit as Advocate/Consoler
The Father and the Son revealed by the Spirit
243 Before his Passover, Jesus announced the sending of “another Paraclete” (Advocate), the Holy Spirit. At work since creation, having previously “spoken through the prophets”, the Spirit will now be with and in the disciples, to teach them and guide them “into all the truth”.68 The Holy Spirit is thus revealed as another divine person with Jesus and the Father.
Original sin – an essential truth of the faith
388 With the progress of Revelation, the reality of sin is also illuminated. Although to some extent the People of God in the Old Testament had tried to understand the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis, they could not grasp this story’s ultimate meaning, which is revealed only in the light of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.261 We must know Christ as the source of grace in order to know Adam as the source of sin. The Spirit-Paraclete, sent by the risen Christ, came to “convict the world concerning sin”,262 by revealing him who is its Redeemer.
Titles of the Holy Spirit
692 When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the “Paraclete,” literally, “he who is called to one’s side,” ad-vocatus.18 “Paraclete” is commonly translated by “consoler,” and Jesus is the first consoler.19 The Lord also called the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth.”20
729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers.116 The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus’ prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus’ name; and Jesus will send him from the Father’s side, since he comes from the Father. The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us for ever; he will remain with us. The Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.
1433 Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved “the world wrong about sin,”29 i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion.30
Mercy and Sin
1848 As St. Paul affirms, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”118 But to do its work grace must uncover sin so as to convert our hearts and bestow on us “righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”119 Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God, by his Word and by his Spirit, casts a living light on sin:
- Conversion requires convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgment of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man’s inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Thus in this “convincing concerning sin” we discover a double gift: the gift of the truth of conscience and the gift of the certainty of redemption. The Spirit of truth is the Consoler.120
Invoking the Holy Spirit
1083 The dual dimension of the Christian liturgy as a response of faith and love to the spiritual blessings the Father bestows on us is thus evident. On the one hand, the Church, united with her Lord and “in the Holy Spirit,”5 blesses the Father “for his inexpressible gift6 in her adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. On the other hand, until the consummation of God’s plan, the Church never ceases to present to the Father the offering of his own gifts and to beg him to send the Holy Spirit upon that offering, upon herself, upon the faithful, and upon the whole world, so that through communion in the death and resurrection of Christ the Priest, and by the power of the Spirit, these divine blessings will bring forth the fruits of life “to the praise of his glorious grace.”7
“Come, Holy Spirit”
2670 “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”21 Every time we begin to pray to Jesus it is the Holy Spirit who draws us on the way of prayer by his prevenient grace. Since he teaches us to pray by recalling Christ, how could we not pray to the Spirit too? That is why the Church invites us to call upon the Holy Spirit every day, especially at the beginning and the end of every important action.
- If the Spirit should not be worshiped, how can he divinize me through Baptism? If he should be worshiped, should he not be the object of adoration?22
2671 The traditional form of petition to the Holy Spirit is to invoke the Father through Christ our Lord to give us the Consoler Spirit.23 Jesus insists on this petition to be made in his name at the very moment when he promises the gift of the Spirit of Truth.24 But the simplest and most direct prayer is also traditional, “Come, Holy Spirit,” and every liturgical tradition has developed it in antiphons and hymns.
- Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.25Heavenly King, Consoler Spirit, Spirit of Truth, present everywhere and filling all things, treasure of all good and source of all life, come dwell in us, cleanse and save us, you who are All Good.26
2672 The Holy Spirit, whose anointing permeates our whole being, is the interior Master of Christian prayer. He is the artisan of the living tradition of prayer. To be sure, there are as many paths of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in all and with all. It is in the communion of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church.