For years the Gospel for Pentecost has been the first appearance of the risen Jesus to the Apostles after the crucifixion. I always thought this was an odd choice because it really is the institution of the Sacrament of Penance. Why then was this Gospel chosen for so many years? The last time Jesus was with his Apostles, they all deserted him when he was arrested. One was so scared that he ran away naked and another would deny him three times. These are serious sins and they needed forgiveness. Souls without sanctifying grace cannot have the Holy Spirit dwell in their temples. God cannot live in sin. When Jesus said, “Peace be with you.” He forgave their sins in another gratuitous and unmerited gift. This is why the words of absolution also say, “May God grant you pardon and peace.” If they did not get forgiveness, they would not be able to excel in the spiritual life nor would they have been able to take on the task of spreading the faith. Jesus then went a step further. He gave them the power to forgive or retain sins in the name of God. I would think this would be such a humiliation for them. Here they betrayed Jesus and now he forgives them and gives them that same power for our benefit. You would think they were the least deserving of this. But this certainly demonstrates that God’s ways are not our ways.
There is now a second selection for the Gospel on Pentecost. It has to do with the proof that we love Jesus. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We cannot hug God nor can we kiss him. But what he wants from us is to keep his commandments as taught through the Church’s Sacred Tradition. That is through Holy Scripture and the Sacred Tradition of the Church which was discussed last week. If we do follow these commandments, and not our own or what is decided by a democratic vote, the Holy Spirit will come to us and the Father will dwell with us. Living in this state of Grace, we will come to understand exactly what God has taught us.
After Pentecost, we will return to Ordinary Time. We will go back to the green vestments which represent life. It is actually the color of the Holy Spirit because he is the giver or life. We usually associate the red vestments with the Holy Spirit because of the tongues of fire that appeared over the Apostles in the Upper Room. Ordinary Time represents the life in the Spirit. Now we will pick up where we left off just before the beginning of Lent. The readings will return, after the Solemnities of the Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi, to the life of Christ where he shows us how to live.
To date we have reached 77% of our Annual Bishop’s Appeal pledges. While we never seem to reach our goal that the diocese has set, I am grateful to those who are helping the poor of our diocese. I hope that those of you who have made pledges will be able to follow through for this worthy cause to keep the larger diocesan charities running.
Last Saturday Gino became Deacon Gino at a beautiful ceremony in the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Trenton. Please pray for him as he starts his ministry in our parish. I hope and pray that he has a spiritually fruitful deaconate and that his wife, Rosaria, shares in his work and joy.
This Memorial Day I moved the Mass to 9:00 AM. I thought that an extra hour might make things easier for more to get to Mass to pray for all those who died serving our country. Let us keep in our prayers all those who are in the service – especially those in harms way.
Fr. Vincent Euk