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สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

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2019-11-15 01:25

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Pentecost
Acts of the Apostles 2:1–11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13; John 20:19–23

The acorn planter
Pentecost challenges us to translate our confirmation commitment into concrete Christian service.

In 1983, when Israel occupied Lebanon, a 13-year-old boy from Evanston, Illinois, made his Bar Mitzvah. After the rite, the boy read a letter he was sending Menachem Begin, who was Prime Minister of Israel at the time. He introduced the letter, saying:

My Bar Mitzvah is a time when I become a Jewish adult. . . .
I have an obligation to speak my mind. . . . So I’m writing a letter to Prime Minister Begin. I’d like to read it to you.

“Dear Prime Minister Begin:

“On the occasion of my Bar Mitzvah, I feel an obligation to speak my mind about the war in Lebanon. . . .

“I understand why you did what you did. . . [but] I think the war was the wrong way. . . .
[If] this ever happens again, I recommend that you take the first step toward peace . . . by going to each of the Arab countries . . .
just as Sadat came to Israel. If Israel were at peace with the Arabs, the PLO would no longer have a base for hurting and killing Jews in Israel.”

The boy ended his letter, saying:

“Instead of centerpieces, candy and nuts on the tables of my
Bar Mitzvah party, I have asked my family to send money to the hospital in Netanya, Israel, where the Jews who were hurt in the war are being treated for their injuries. “Sincerely yours,
Peter Burgh”

How do Peter’s Bar Mitzvah letter and his gift of money
to the Jewish hospital speak to us about today’s Feast of Pentecost?

The Jewish rite of Bar Mitzvah  commissions Jewish young people to assume a more active role in the jewish community.
It calls them to adult service and adult responsibility.

The Jewish rite of Bar Mitzvah is a lot like the Christian sacrament of Confirmation.

Confirmation commissions Christian young people to assume
a more active role in the Christian community. It calls them
to adult service and adult responsibility.

Peter Burgh’s letter and gift of money represent an attempt
to carry out his new adult responsibilities. They represent an attempt to put teeth into his Bar Mitzvah rite.

This is one of the purposes of our yearly celebration of Pentecost.

The Feast of Pentecost acts as a call to service. It reminds Christians the world over that they must put teeth into their confirmation commitment. They must translate it into concrete action.

For some Christians this means being called to high-profile service. It means witnessing to the Gospel in a highly visible way. It means preaching the Gospel publicly and exercising public leadership in the Christian community.

For other Christians this means a low-profile service.
It means witnessing to the Gospel in a less visible way.
It means things like prayer and sacrifice for the Christian community.
It means doing things like Peter Burgh did.

The services of Christians differ because the spiritual gifts of Christians differ.

Paul makes this point in his First Letter to the Corinthians.
He writes:

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them.
There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served.
There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to everyone for their particular service.
 I Corinthians 12:4–6

The Feast of Pentecost calls upon each one of us to put into practice the spiritual gifts  we received at the time of our confirmation.

The Feast of Pentecost is a call to action. It tells us we must put teeth into our confirmation commitment. It tells us we must translate it into action.

Let me illustrate this with a story.
In the 1930s a young traveler was exploring the French Alps.
He came upon a vast stretch of barren land.
It was desolate. It was forbidding.
It was ugly. It was the kind of place you hurry away from.

Then, suddenly, the young traveler stopped dead in his tracks.

In the middle of this vast wasteland was a bent-over old man.
On his back was a sack of acorns. In his hand was a four-foot-long iron pipe.

The man was using the iron pipe to punch holes in the ground.
Then from the sack he would take an acorn and put it in the hole.

Later the old man told the traveler, I’ve planted over 100,000 acorns. Perhaps only a tenth of them will grow.

The old man’s wife and son had died, and this was how he spent his final years. I want to do something useful, he said.

Twenty-five years later the traveler returned to the same desolate spot.
What he saw amazed him. He couldn’t believe his eyes.

The land was covered with a beautiful forest two miles wide and five miles long.

Birds were singing. Animals were playing. And wildflowers perfumed the air.

The traveler stood there recalling the desolate area that was once there and looking at the beautiful area that was there now all because someone cared.

Pentecost is a call to action. It is a call to us to do our part
to spread God’s kingdom on earth. You and I can’t change the whole world. But we can change a part of it, just as the
old man did.

We received our sack of acorns and our iron pipe when we were confirmed. Now it’s up to us to do something with them.

All it takes is a little courage the kind of courage that Peter Burgh showed in writing to Prime Minister Begin, and the kind of courage the old man showed in planting his acorns.

Let’s close with a prayer:

Come, Holy Spirit, come! Come as fire to warm us.
Come as wind to cleanse us. Come as light to guide us.
Come as power to enable us. Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Help us renew the face of the earth!

Series II
Pentecost
Acts of the Apostles 2:1–11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13; John 20:19–23

Two towers
The Holy Spirit came to make us one family, and all of us have a role to play in this undertaking.
Agiant television tower rises above the skyline of East Berlin. Just below the tip of the tower is a revolving restaurant.
Communist officials intended it to be a showpiece to the
West. But instead, a fluke in design turned it into a giant embarrassment.

Whenever the sun hits the tower a certain way, the tower turns into a huge, shimmering cross. Officials tried to repaint the tower to blot out the cross, but to no avail.

Something similar happened in Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus. Officials hoped that the death of
Jesus on the cross would blot out the Christian movement.
But instead, it did just the opposite.
The Christian movement began to spread like a raging forest fire.

It spread so spectacularly that by the year A.D. 64 it had become a powerful force in faraway Rome.

It became so powerful that the Roman emperor, Nero, made it the target of an all-out persecution.
How did Christianity, in 30 short years, grow from a tiny spark into a raging infernal? That amazing story is told in the Acts of the Apostles.

And the starting point for that amazing story is what  happened in today’s gospel. The Holy Spirit, whom
Jesus had promised to send his disciples, descended
upon them on Pentecost and transformed them.

This confused body of human beings was transformed
into a courageous body of Christian believers.
This disorganized band of human beings was transformed
into a single body of witnesses, which we now call the Church.

But the Church is far, far more that just a body of believers
sharing the same faith. It is the body of Christ sharing a common life. Paul writes:

The church is Christ’s body. Ephesians 1:23

And again Paul says:

[Christ] is the head of his body, the church; he is the source of the body’s life. Colossians 1:18

And so Pentecost is rightly called the birthday of the Church,
the risen body of Christ made visible.

Two points about Pentecost need to be underscored.

First, Pentecost was a major Jewish feast a thanksgiving celebration combining gratitude for the year’s harvest
with gratitude for the Sinai covenant. Meaning “50th,”
Pentecost occurred 50 days after Passover.

This explains why Jews from all over had gathered in Jerusalem. They were celebrating this great Jewish feast.

This also explains why Jews speaking many different languages were gathered together at one time.

Second, Pentecost must be seen against the background
of the Tower of Babel story in the Old Testament. Prior
to the building of the tower, all the people spoke the same language. Genesis 11:1
But when pride began to take hold of the people and they began to build the tower, God “mixed up the language of
all the people, and from there he scattered them  all over
the earth.” Genesis 11:9

The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost reversed this situation. After the Holy Spirit’s coming, the people of different languages in Jerusalem understood what the disciples were saying.

The point is clear. What sin had split apart is now united by the Holy Spirit. God was re-creating the world and making it new again.
This brings us to each one of us in this church. What the Holy Spirit began on Pentecost was left to us to complete.

Like the disciples of Jesus in today’s gospel, each one of us received the Holy Spirit in a personal way  through our baptism and our confirmation.

And like the disciples of Jesus, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit for a purpose. We are to go forth  and preach the good news of the Gospel to all peoples.

To use Paul’s words in today’s second reading, we are to bring all peoples into the “one body” of Christ, where all
were “given the one Spirit to drink.”

What does that mean in the practical order? What does that mean for each one of us here?

It means that we take an active role in the Church’s work of preaching the Gospel to all peoples.

It means that we support the missionary work of the Church
with both monetary and prayer support.

But it also means that we preach the Gospel in our everyday lives. What we profess on Sunday we must put into practice and live out the other six days of the week. If we all did that,
people would be flocking to join us at church on Sunday.

Let me close with an example of what I have been talking about. It’s found in Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War diary.
Lincoln writes:

Of all the forms of charity and benevolence seen in the crowded wards in the hospitals, those of some Catholic Sisters were the most efficient.

I never knew whence they came or what was the name of their order. More lovely than anything I have ever seen in art . . .
are the pictures of those modest sisters, going on their errands of mercy among the suffering and the dying.

Gentle and womanly, yet with the courage of soldiers . . . they went from cot to cot. . . . They were veritable angels of mercy.

It is this kind of witness that Pentecost invites each one of us
to bear in whatever area of life we are working.

It is this kind of witness that the Holy Spirit has empowered
each one of us to give.

It is this kind of witness that you and I are called to by our baptism and confirmation.

This is the Pentecost message for each one of us here.

Series III
Pentecost
Acts of the Apostles 2:1–11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b–7, 12–13; John 20:19–23

Christians
Disciples of Jesus, sent into the world.

J esus said, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22
A number of years ago, a popular CBS TV program called
On the Road with Charles Kuralt toured America with a TV crew reporting on places and people his audience should
know about.

The focus of one story was the Chapel Maria Angelorum,
run by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of Lacrosse,Wisconsin.

Kuralt began by telling his audience how for 100 years now, these sisters have knelt in that chapel, two by two, day and night, in summer heat and winter cold, praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

They pray for everything: for wisdom for the leaders of society,
for an end of injustice in society, for their friends and their enemies, for you and for me.
Kuralt said he returned to Maria Angelorum several times.
Something kept drawing him back. What is it? He explained it this way:

It is the “passion” in the hearts of these Franciscan Sisters.
He said in awe and amazement that their intention is to keep praying until the end of time. Then he added in a meditative tone:

“Til the end of time” is an idea most of us don’t think about very much, but I have visited the Chapel of Maria Angelorum
 a few times now, and the intention of these women is beginning to sink in.

The years go by. Bright sunshine gives way to soft snowfall,
and day to night . . . and always two Sisters on their knees.
They mean to pray forever.

I am no Roman Catholic myself, but I know passion when I see it. And I know grace. . . . And if I ever forget such things exist in the world, I know now where I can go to remind myself that they really do. FSPA Perspectives, Spring/Summer 1997

The “passion” of the Sisters that kept Charles Kuralt coming back to the Chapel of Maria Angelorum brings us
to the feast of Pentecost.

Specifically, it brings us to two of the many reasons
why we celebrate this great feast.

First of all, the Franciscan Sisters praying at Maria Angelorum are a good illustration of Paul’s words
in today’s second reading. He writes:

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. There are different ways of serving, but the same Lord is served.

There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their special service. The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good
of all.

The Sisters of Maria Angelorum are using their gift of prayer from the Spirit “for the good of all” from the leaders of society down to the victims of society.

But there is a second and even more practical reason
why we celebrate Pentecost each year. It is to remind ourselves of what Jesus says to the disciples in today’s Gospel:

“As the Father sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

The Feast of Pentecost is a reminder of the call to ministry and service. that we Christians have received in the sacrament of Confirmation.

For some Christians this means being called to high-profile service. It means witnessing to the Gospel in a highly visible way. It means preaching the Gospel publicly and exercising public leadership in the Christian community.

For other Christians, like the Sisters, it means a lower-profile service. It means witnessing to the Gospel in a less visible way.
It means performing a ministry of prayers and sacrifices
“for the good of all.”

The feast of Pentecost charges us to put into practice for the good of all these gifts we received in Confirmation.

And the feast of Pentecost invites us to carry out our Confirmation calling with the same kind of passion that Charles Kuralt found so moving in the Franciscan Sisters,
kneeling two by two, day and night, in the Chapel of Maria Angelorum.

Consider a moving example of this kind of all-out commitment.

During a religious oppression in China in the 1950s, a mother and her little daughter, Mei, were imprisoned with other Christians. Mei had a beautiful disposition and a beautiful faith in the Holy Spirit.

Her young heart believed mightily that the Holy Spirit gives us special gifts in the sacrament of Confirmation, to be used “for the good of all.”

During her stay in prison, Mei’s beautiful disposition was so contagious that the Chinese guards let her run freely about the prison. And so it came about that when Catholics outside the prison discovered a way to smuggle Holy Communion
into prison, it was to Mei that they turned to be the secret eucharistic minister carrying it to the Catholic prisoners.

When someone asked Mei if she was afraid of being caught and punished, she replied: “No, the Holy Spirit is inside me.”
And so by virtue of our Confirmation, you and I are called like the Sisters and Mei to use our gifts for the good of all.

We can’t change the whole world. But we can change a part of it, just as Mei, a child in prison, changed a part of her world.

And we can perform our ministry whether it be high or low profile with the same passion that the Sisters at Maria Angelorum have performed their ministry for 100 years.
And so we pray with them and for them:

Come Holy Spirit, come! Come as you did on the first Pentecost.

Come as fire to warm the coldness of our world.
Come as wind to drive ugliness from our world.
Come as light to expel the darkness of our world.
Come as power to strengthen the weak of the world.
Come, Holy Spirit, come! And renew the face of the earth. M. L.