This week’s memory verse: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” — Acts 1:8
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
In the Book of Genesis, we find the people, the descendants of Noah who survived the great flood, were as one people. They spoke one language. They acted of one accord. They decided to build a tower to reach heaven. They had already regained the arrogance of those destroyed in the flood. They were going to reach heaven without having earned heaven, doing so by their own might and power.
So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Ba’bel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them.
Today we recall the meek Apostles, the women, and family of Jesus in quasi-hiding being empowered to speak every language. They are commissioned by the Holy Spirit to declare the mighty acts of God to the entire world. They do so not regarding any barrier.
The early Church Fathers were the first to see Divine reversal in the events of Pentecost in Jerusalem compared with Babel. At Babel one language was confused; in Jerusalem, many languages become comprehensible. At Babel the people were scattered; in Jerusalem every nation comes together. At Babel, earth arrogantly tried building its way to heaven; in Jerusalem heaven reaches down to earth. At Babel the human ego was condemned; in Jerusalem humanity realizes it can be filled with God. At Babel humanity arrogantly looked at itself; at Pentecost humans are sent out to look for and bring the Good News to others; to all their brothers and sisters.
At Babel the mission was human, the goal was measured in bricks and height. At Pentecost, the mission is God’s. Pentecost means full acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s gifts and using those gifts for God’s work. His work is not to build towers nor to create structures. It is to build the Body of Christ, the Church, by our witness in spite of obstacles or barriers. We are to make Jesus known without regard to language, difference, or background. Pentecost undermines all human plans. Pentecost lived is great witnesses to the mighty acts of God no matter what.
“But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
Sometimes we think of the Trinity as three gods who get along really well and never argue or disagree. Of course, that would be incorrect – there is but one God, not three. We believe in One God in three different Persons.
Neither is the Trinity just three manifestations of God; God showing up in different costumes. This is modalism. Modalism says that there is one God and He appears as the Father and then as the Son and now as the Spirit. Rather, God is three Divine, Eternal and Distinct Persons.
The Trinity is also uncreated and eternal. The Father did not create the Son or Spirit. The Father is not “the main God” and the Son or Spirit some inferior god or that the Father created the Son and Spirit before anything else.
So the truth of the Trinity is not saying there are three different gods or three different manifestations of God or that God the Father created some lesser, inferior gods. Scripture and Church Tradition are consistent in teaching that there is One God existing in Three Eternal Persons, One God in unity, eternally existing in three Persons, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit – equal in nature, distinct in person, and subordinate in duties.
Beyond the technical explanation of what the Holy Trinity is or is not, what is the practical application of the Trinity for us?
St. John states: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. John identified himself in his writing as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He knew that when we begin to understand God’s love, like he did, when we see God in the way He really is, we experience life differently and we live differently.
When we come to understand the unity in Trinity of the Father, Son and Spirit we can better appreciate and understand what it really means. He did not need us, but created us as an outpouring of His love. He wants only that in knowing Him we come to pour out that kind of love each day. The mutuality, love, unity, self-subordination, and perfection of God flowing from love is not just a fact of the Trinity but more so a call to us. Knowing is not enough. The Trinity calls us to compassion for those who don’t know love and a desire to share that love and life. It is our living life in the Trinity.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Of all the questions the disciples must have had, the one on their minds between the Ascension and Pentecost resonates best: I saw the crucifixion, I saw the risen Lord, I saw Him ascend into heaven, now what?
Pentecost was an annual event in Israel. It is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew word for the Festival of Weeks commemorating God’s giving of the Ten Commandments forty-nine days after the Exodus. It is also called the Festival of Reaping and Day of the First Fruits.
What beautiful imagery to answer the question of: What is next?
God chose this day to send forth the Holy Spirit to infuse us with His new and living Spirit. The Jews were commanded to count the days and weeks after the Exodus as an expression of their anticipation and desire for the giving of the Torah. We are no longer beholden to Torah Law as a teacher – pointing to all our wrong acts and thoughts, and prescribing a remedy, but are made strong, powerful, and free in the Spirit by our profession of faith and belief in Jesus. We have a different kind of longing, anticipation, and desire. The Spirit prompts us to declare our faith and then infuses us with His gifts changing us radically so that we only desire to live in Christ and live in His glorious kingdom.
What was next was that through the infusion of the Holy Spirit the entire world is offered this opportunity for freedom. No longer beholden, one would be free if they chose to follow the prompting of the Spirit. One could hear of Jesus through those Apostles, the sent, who have already been made strong, powerful, and free by the Spirit. They could not only hear, but join in and be made co-heirs in Jesus sharing fully in the Spirit’s gifts.
God chose this day because it was the day of reaping. Passover marked the end of the season of the grain harvest with the reaping of wheat in the Land of Israel. In ancient times, the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness. It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat at Passover.
The Spirit is given so every season will be a season of harvest. Jesus told us: “So ask the Lord who gives this harvest to send workers to harvest his crops.”
Two thousand years later the Spirit prompts us to go and reap and bring in the many. What now? Rejoice, live in Jesus, proclaim Him, and gather His harvest. The Holy Spirit is in us and with us for exactly this work.
Our Holy Church sets the month of June aside and encourages the faithful to pray for the clergy of our Holy Church and for an increase of vocations. We also remember those who spent their lives serving God and His people, being now retired and in need of our financial support.
The life of service within the Church is not without its occasional difficulties, but instead of focusing on temporary and occasional drawbacks, men who respond to Jesus’ call are strong, determined, brave, and faithful.
Are you ready to respond to God’s call, do you feel the support of family, friends, and a community praying for you? Now is the time to explore the possibilities of a life in the ministry of the Church. Whether you are married or single, a recent graduate, or on your second or third career, the Church encourages you to “Come and See”.
To find out more about vocations to the diaconate and the priesthood, please contact the Savonarola Theological Seminary of the Polish National Catholic Church, 1031 Cedar Ave, Scranton, PA 18505. School, (570) 961-9288, Office, (570) 343-0100.
Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.
The Solemnity of Pentecost presents us with an opportunity to judge what is real in our life, what is in our best interest.
When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in the upper room they had a choice to make. Would they follow the Spirit’s promptings and go out into the world to proclaim the truth or would they just sit there?
As we know, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. The key word is proclaim. They did act to proclaim the truth. They went out into the streets they were confronted by a large crowd of people from every nation and race.
Those people had a choice too. Would they listen and act, accepting the Lordship of Jesus and baptism for regeneration, or would they walk on? They acted to accept what is real, what was in their best interest: Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.
That initial act on the part of the Apostles and those that were added to their number was not the end. If it were, the hope of Jesus would have ended there. Their action was only a beginning. From there they set out to proclaim the word of God. Not only did they proclaim, but they lived God’s word, they remained faithful to Jesus’ way of life.
This is the difficult part of being a Christian both in those days and in the current age. We are confronted with many ways of life; we have choices. What will we proclaim in the face of those choices?
The Christian road, and being real about our faith, is not an easy road. It means we have to say no to the world. It means we have to live by the Spirit that has been given to us. It means making choices that fly in the face of what the world wants from us. It means being faithful to the Church’s teaching because the Holy Spirit dwells in and guides what the Church proclaims. It means that we do not put our faith in government, Wall Street, money, worldly success and power, politics – we can and must say no to those things and more. They stand in opposition to reality.
St. Paul warns us that those who put their faith in the world and make the world their reality: will not inherit the kingdom of God. But, those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh. Therefore let us live in the Spirit, follow the Spirit, and be real.
Sunday, 9/21 – Holy Spirit, keep before our Holy Synod the wisdom and love that has been revealed in Jesus Christ. Help our Holy Church to become more and more like Him in word and deed.
Monday, 9/22 – Holy Spirit, give Your gift of wisdom to those You have called to lead Your Holy Church. Guide them in leading our Holy Synod.
Tuesday, 9/23 – Holy Spirit, Guide our Holy Synod so that its work may result in the growth of Your Holy Church. May many be brought to holiness, truth, and joy by its work.
Wednesday, 9/24 – Holy Spirit, guide our Holy Synod and fill its delegates minds and hearts with your wisdom.
Thursday, 9/25 – Holy Spirit, guide our Holy Synod in the way of Christ. Keep us ever faithful to Scripture and Holy Tradition and assist us in rejecting all that is contrary.
Friday, 9/26 – Holy Spirit, may everything done at Holy Synod begin with Your inspiration, and continue with Your help. Grant that its work always finds its origin in You, and through Your help reach completion.
Saturday, 9/27 – Holy Spirit, I know You hear my words and will show understanding to my hopes and needs. Guide our Holy Synod in doing Your work and help it to reach all of Your goals for us.
Sunday, 9/28 – Father, without You we can do nothing. Send forth Your Holy Spirit and help our Holy Synod to know what is right and to eagerly do Your will.
Oh God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructed the hearts of the faithful, Grant, that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
St. Paul is telling us that God brings each of us to completion, to perfection, to a full blooming of the nature we have in Him through the work and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God sends His Holy Spirit to us exactly for our benefit – not just as individuals – but also as members of the family of His Holy Church. In the Spirit His Church is created and sustained. Its members manifest conversion through faith and contribute the gifts he or she has been given.
A good way to determine how brightly we are blooming in personal faith and as members of the Church is to measure how completely we have given our life over to God’s Holy Spirit. Consider Paul’s message to the Galatians: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.
These verses offer an inspiring, and deeply comforting revelation of how our life, spirit, and actions will bloom when truly “spirit-filled.” It also speaks of the relationship that should bloom within the family of the Church.
Our lives and our Church should “bloom” with the fruit – the “blossom”—or living proof, of the Holy Spirit within us! People should be able to clearly recognize our fruit – in our actions, our words, and our lives.
“Love,” “joy,” “peace,” “gentleness,” and “goodness,” is the food the Holy Spirit gives us so that we can bloom. His goodness, wraps us in His love, comforts us with His peace, and calms us with His gentleness – and together define what true, lasting, and eternally accessible “joy of the Lord” is made up of.
“Longsuffering,” “meekness,” “faith” and “temperance,” are words that describe the characteristics we should display as mature, Spirit-filled Christian believers and most particularly as a Church family alive in the Spirit.
Sometimes we have to struggle when we are wronged or recognize when others are right and our ego needs to take a back seat. The food of the Spirit is sometimes painfully cultivated in us, but to really bloom we must stay committed to attain the best of what God has to offer!
June 1st and our newsletter is here on-time. June offers us the opportunity to specially recognize our being filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and to respond to those gifts in very special ways (do you have a vocation?). This month we particularly honor our dads and our spiritual fathers. We invite you to stand and recognize the Spirit’s call to faith and to join in growing in faith, worship, and service right here in Schenectady. You may view and download a copy right here — June 2014 Newsletter.
There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit… The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.
Pentecost, unless it falls very late, generally occurs within allergy season. If you have seasonal allergies you know that they cause the typical sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes. An overlooked side effect is feeling exhausted.
Allergies aren’t the only reason for exhaustion. American society is one of the most productive on earth. We work-work-work and we don’t see many people imitating the seven dwarves as they sing their way to work. Beyond work itself workers face a dilemma – whether to rest, take time off, or take a vacation. The current work environment looks at time-off as a sign of not being needed. If you’re not missed while you are away you may come back to a pink slip. Without time-off, without the balanced life we need, we live exhausted.
It is ironic that when Pentecost rolls around, and we reflect on the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, many of us are just plain exhausted. We think – wow, it would be great to have the power of the Holy Spirit, that energy that drove the apostles and disciples to conquer the earth for faith in Jesus.
As we lay in bed in the morning our prayer to the Holy Spirit may well be, Spirit, help me get out of bed. Then we lay there and perhaps feel guilty, perhaps feeling that we either missed out on or lost those great gifts of the Spirit; even the energy to get up.
What scripture teaches about the Holy Spirit is important to us.
We learn that as Christians we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit dwells in each of us and is constantly filling us with love, inspiration, and very unique gifts – the variety of gifts given to each person for a good purpose.
The Spirit lives in us and listens to us. It is not a one-way conversation, the Spirit prompting us to do things but ignoring what we have to say. The Spirit takes what we say, and even what we cannot articulate, and brings those as prayers and petitions before the Father. As a result we get help.
Key to all of this is trust. Jesus told the Pharisees that the only unforgivable sin was to speak against the Holy Spirit. This is not literal – like saying the Holy Spirit is a bad guy. It is a failure to see and acknowledge the good the Spirit is doing, to trust the obvious power of the Spirit in our lives with Christ. This Pentecost we may feel exhausted, but we must trust that the Spirit is with us, giving us the gifts we need to do good, hearing our prayer, filling us with power!
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