Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 12, 2011 – Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-11 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13 Jn 20:19-23

This is one of an ongoing series of conversations between second century catechumen, Respecta and her teacher, Petras.

“Come on outside,” Petras called to Respecta on a particularly windy day.

“On my way,” Respecta called as she grabbed her veil and hurried out the front door. She tried to secure her veil to her head, but the wind was too strong and kept blowing it off.

“Oh leave it be,” Petras remarked. “It will only blow off again. Beside, we’re going out to the fields where no one will see you anyway.”

“Why go to the fields on such a windy day?”

“I want you to see something that may help you better understand the story about Pentecost,” Petras answered as she led Respecta out across the fields toward the hills just south of her home.

The two stood watching the wind blow over the hills and then pour down the hills into the valley below. Leaves and limbs were carried away from dried trees so that a carpet of foliage moved across the scene.

“What are we supposed to see?”

“Oh, nothing new, really. It’s just that I wanted you to see how the wind acts like a liquid, pouring over the hills like water and carrying the debris. It behaves a lot like water, doesn’t it?” Petras observed.

“Yes, I guess so. I never thought of wind acting like water before.”

“You see, Respecta, the Jewish people who wrote the sacred Scriptures thought of wind as a fluid and so it became important to the story of Pentecost. When you and I hear the story of a mighty wind that blew in the upper room where Jesus’ disciples were gathered there is much to pay attention to when listening. Just like a mighty wind or a hurricane that can blow apart and destroy whatever is weaker than itself, the breath of God can topple unbelief and push out all manner of evil powers. As we read the story of the disciples after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, we see that the Spirit blew away the fear that had imprisoned them in the upper room, the fear that caused them to hide from would-be enemies. God’s Spirit is so much more powerful than any evil power that tries to influence us.

“The power of fire is awesome in its ability to destroy, too. When a house catches on fire, the entire neighborhood is worried that the fire will overcome everything in its path. Yet, fire is so important to provide light for us to see, to warm our houses and cook our food. We even say a person is on fire when he is particularly enthusiastic. So, when the Spirit of God came to the disciples at Pentecost, they were set on fire to announce the good news of Jesus and to baptize everyone in His name. The Spirit drove away their fear. The Spirit kindled a new power in them to convince their hearers that God was doing something new in their lives.”

“Yes, I can see that, Petras. But you said the Spirit was like fluid or like water. I don’t see that in the story.”

“I can understand how you might miss that symbol in the readings when so much focus is given to wind and fire; but notice how the Spirit washes away their timidity about the mission Jesus gave them, and their guilt at having abandoned Jesus to death. Like a long cold drink in the heat of summer, the Spirit quenched their thirst for zeal in the service of the Lord and refreshed them. Now the disciples had so much to say about Jesus that they were heard by several different language groups.”

“Amazing! I never thought of the Spirit like that. So at Baptism every Christian is washed from the power of evil and filled with the Spirit. The water is a perfect symbol for the Spirit!”

“Yes, indeed, Respecta. The Holy Spirit of God then gifts us with everything that the community needs for the common good. All of your gifts will be animated by the Spirit so that the whole Church profits. Jesus spoke today about one of the most important gifts that we can have: a forgiving spirit. Forgiving those who harm us is undoubtedly one of the most difficult tasks that we have. Yet, Jesus insisted that we forgive one another.”

“Yes, I remember. Seven times seventy times daily. But why? Why was this so important to Jesus when forgiveness is so hard?

“Well, Respecta, I imagine it’s because failure to forgive ties us up in knots. An unforgiving spirit spends our energy maintaining hurt and anger. When we are able to forgive, we are freed from the twin evil spirits of anger and hurt. Anger and hurt! They are like leviathan monsters that can consume our lives if we let them. Haven’t you met someone before who was consumed by one of these spirits?”

“Indeed I have. It’s very hard to be around someone who is always angry. It’s like standing too near a fire and trying not to be burned.”

“That’s why I think Jesus wants us to receive the power of forgiveness. It not only frees the person who offended us, it frees us from the twin monsters of hurt and anger. When we release those spirits, we are able to lovingly be present to others. We are able to embody the good news of God’s love for others. We can be filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s very hard to put the two spirits together: anger and love. I believe Jesus was trying to say we have to choose. Always choose love.”

“This leaves me with a lot to ponder, Petras. I feel so blessed that God is calling me toward goodness and love, even though it is not an easy road to walk. I think that there are some relatives and neighbors that I need to forgive if I am going to be free to live in the Holy Spirit. Pray that I have the strength to let go of pain, won’t you?”

“Most certainly, Respecta. I surely will pray for you. Pray for me too, as forgiveness is a lifelong challenge. If we let the Spirit do it, God’s Spirit will wash away the heavy bonds of anger and hurt.”

Key words

Bible, Scripture, Christian, environment, ecology, lectionary, reflection, homily, sermon, Catholic, green, environmentally friendly, sustainability, the common good, the commons


About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.