Weekly Gospel Reflection — 08 June 2014
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and shouted,
“All who are thirsty should come to me!
All who believe in me should drink!
As the scriptures said concerning me,
Rivers of living water will flow out from within him.”
Jesus said this concerning the Spirit. Those who believed in him would soon receive the Spirit, but they hadn’t experienced the Spirit yet since Jesus hadn’t yet been glorified.
As this is Pentecost Sunday, the day when the church celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit, the optional reading and the New Testament reading are important as well.
It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.”
When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.
There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; as well as residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the regions of Libya bordering Cyrene; and visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the mighty works of G‑d in our own languages!” They were all surprised and bewildered. Some asked each other, “What does this mean?” Others jeered at them, saying, “They’re full of new wine!”
Peter stood with the other eleven apostles. He raised his voice and declared, “Judeans and everyone living in Jerusalem! Know this! Listen carefully to my words! These people aren’t drunk, as you suspect; after all, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! Rather, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
In the last days, G‑d says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young will see visions.
Your elders will dream dreams.
Even upon my servants, men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will cause wonders to occur in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
The sun will be changed into darkness,
and the moon will be changed into blood,
before the great and spectacular day of the Lord comes.
And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The reason I wanted to quote these other readings today is because of the emphasis on New Creation. That is, the outpouring of the Spirit was a furthering sign that G‑d’s Realm had come “on earth as in heaven.”
As we’ve seen from John 20 before, John has written his gospel in such a way as to show that resurrection of Jesus was the inauguration of the promised New Creation. Here, John ties that to the giving of the Holy Spirit. That is, the Holy Spirit is the empowerment, the Life-Force, of the New Creation. Let me say that again,
The Holy Spirit is the Life-Force of the New Creation.
She’s* the energy, the power, the essence, the creative substance that enables the followers of The Way of Jesus to help expand G‑d’s Realm, the New Creation, on earth.
Peter, in his quote from Joel 2, shows that “in the last days” of the then current age (sometimes called the Old Covenant age), Yahweh would pour out the spirit upon “all people.” Take note of that.
The Spirit of Yahweh is given to everyone.
I would go so far to say that She infuses all of creation.
The challenge for us is to tap into that infusion.
To recognize it.
To experience it.
The way we do this is move past all of the falseness that isn’t our true selves, our deepest selves. Just like the rest of creation, we, too, have been birthed through the Light of G‑d (Genesis 1). It’s not easy. We’ve become addicted to this falseness. But, we’ve been given the Spirit to empower us to move past that, to move deeper than that falseness.
And, since the Spirit is given to everyone, it brings up another point about the New Creation — unity. We’re all in this together. There should be no “us” versus “them.” There should be no “in” versus “out.” In the New Creation, we’re “all G‑d’s children” because of the work of Jesus (Galatians 3.26ff).
Certainly, we’re all in different places in this odyssey, but we’re still in this journey together. When we look into the face of another, we’re look into the face of an image bearer of G‑d.
So to see where the New Creation is being implemented we look to those places where equality is flourishing. We look to the places where justice is prospering. We look to the places where love is increasing.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
* I say “she” because the Hebrew text Peter quotes from, Joel 2, uses the word rûach. It’s a feminine noun. Peter, therefore, equates the giving of G‑d’s Spirit to that of being empowered by the Divine Feminine.