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This Sunday's Programme

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Pentecost Sunday B

Sunday 19th May 2024

The Gospel Paraphrased

There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.

This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased

Jn 15:26-27, 16:12-15

When the Comforter comes whom I shall send from the Father,
that is the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father,
he will witness to me.
Then, you too will witness to me
as you have been with me from the beginning.

I have many things to say to you
but you could not bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes
he will lead you into all truth.
He will not be speaking from himself
rather he will speak as he hears.
Those are the things he will reveal to you.
and he will also reveal to you what is to come.
He shall glorify me
for what he tells you comes from what is mine.
All that the Father has is mine
that is why I told you that what he reveals to you
will come from what is mine.

Psalm

The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 103:1, 24, 29-31, 34

Bless God, O my soul!
How great are your deeds, O God.
In wisdom you have made all things,
The earth is full of your achievements.

You hide your face, they are distressed.
You take away your breathe, they die, returning to dust.
Your send forth your spirit, they are created
and the face of the earth is renewed.

The Glory of the Lord shall endure forever!
God will rejoice in his works.
My reflection on God will be sweet.
I will rejoice in God.

Prayers

Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.

This Sunday's Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, into the midst of difficulties and challenge so that may we witness to the love of Jesus. In the midst of uncertainty and fear, may we know your wisdom guiding us to the Father. In the midst of our relationships, may we know the fire of your love burning in our hearts and radiating through our lives.

The Commentaries Summarised

As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.

This Sunday's Commentary

This Sunday’s Gospel is two excerpts from the Last Discourse in the Gospel of John. The Gospels for the Vigil and Day Masses of Pentecost, across all the Sunday Cycles, come from the Gospel of John. In the Year A Day Mass, the Johannine “Pentecost” after Jesus’ Resurrection is described. All the other Gospel readings explore, in some way, how John presents the role of the Spirit in our lives. To appreciate today’s Gospel we need to look at both sections in their original context.

The first section, Jn 15:26-27, presents the Spirit as a witness to Jesus and as the one who leads the disciples to be witnesses to Jesus. This witnessing will not happen in a cosy circle of like-minded friends. Rather the context, both before and after, makes clear that it will happen in the midst of hostility and hatred: just as Jesus has been hated so too will they be hated. It will be with the power of the Spirit that the disciples, in the face of ongoing sustained enmity, will be able to continue to witness to Jesus and the revelation of God.

The second section, Jn 16:12-15, presents the Spirit as the teacher who leads the disciples into the complete truth and who, in due time, will reveal to them the things of God that they need to know. Around this section are references to the sadness, the ignorance and, by implication, the fragility of the disciples. Jesus is telling his disciples of his departure and quite simply, the disciples are distressed and terrified. What will be their future? Jesus consoles them by the promise of the Spirit who will be with them, teaching them as they need, leading them into the knowledge of the Father and of Jesus.

Exposition

Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.

This Sunday's Exposition

Jesus clearly states in this Gospel that with the gift of the Spirit we are to be his witnesses. If you are like me you would feel uncomfortable with this. All of us have experienced the ‘ranters’ – those who shove their views into the faces of anyone listening – not a good look for Christianity. But it can be done differently.

A few years ago, the former Bishop of Rockhampton Brian Heenan, made a Youtube clip of “What Jesus means to me”, as part of that diocese’s programme for the Year of Grace. In it, he simply recounts how the person of Jesus captivated him as a child and how his relationship with Jesus has led him through his life. Simple, yet powerful, because he comes across as a calm person yet when we realise that being a bishop today is no easy task we have to ask – who is the source of grace?

At our parish, I once heard Sr Patricia Drum, of the Verbum Dei sisters, speak of her missionary work, especially in Mexico, where the violence from the drug wars is part of life. She also spoke of other challenges. But what came across was a radiant happiness. We were so entranced, you could hear people listening. Again, we were led to ask, who is the source of grace?

Two different witnesses, two different forums, two different experiences. Our own lives would be just as different again. What we have to ask ourselves is: ‘Is there any part of my life what would led people to wonder, who is the source of grace?’

 

Reflection

Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.

This Sunday's Reflection

In the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, the elderly pastor, John Ames, in musing over his life, notices how the word ‘just’ can mean something depreciative or something affirmative – depending on how one views the situation. ‘There I was, with just you!’ Here ‘just you’ can mean ‘only you and what good was that to me?’ Not nice. Or ‘just you’ can mean ‘what more could I have wanted, you and you alone fill me with joy!’ In the first stance, the speaker betrays begrudging acceptance, the second, openness to mystery, joy, abundance.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus states that the Spirit will teach us ‘everything’. This is an extraordinary statement. I am very conscious of what I don’t know, about the world, about people…and especially about God. And I’m sure you feel the same way too. Does this mean that the Spirit isn’t teaching me or you? This is how I get my mind around this conundrum: sometimes I wonder about how the ants in our garden view us. If one of us tried to teach an ant and the ant was just interested in its own anty world, it isn’t going to learn anything. But if the ant is interested in more, then it will find what little it learns would be just marvellous. The Spirit is trying to teach us. But if we try to conform the Spirit to just what we want, we will be disappointed – the Spirit will not be tamed. But if we are open to what the Spirit wants, we will be just surprised by joy, time and time again.

Visual Meditation

Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.

This Sunday's Visual Meditation

– This fresco by Giotto di Bondone shows the disciples awaiting the descent of the Spirit.

The Dove of the Holy Spirit by Giusto de Menabuoi is a detail of a fresco in Padua.

– In this painting by Anton Raphael Mengs Mary is at the centre of the praying disciples.

– This fresco by Mikhail Vrubelis in the Cathedral of St Cyril, Kiev. This shows Mary with the apostles.  All seem so stern and fierce –is it because the Descent of the Spirit is yet to happen or that the enormity of the Spirit’s descent overwhelms them?

– This is a modern painting by John Brokenshire.

Mulling Meditation

The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.

Exercising
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"

Driving
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.

This Sunday's Mulling Meditation

The Holy Spirit has been likened to electricity, which you only see through its effects.  As you go through this week, mull on how the Holy Spirit may be already working through your life.  Notice when you are more patient, kinder, more courageous, wiser than you think you naturally are.  When this happens, praise the Spirit.

Mirror Meditation

In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.

This Sunday's Mirror Meditation

Rest in the love of your God.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus has told us that the Spirit will lead us to be witnesses. This especially happens in time of trial. Consider the various part so your life. How could God be calling you to witness? In those parts where you are experiencing difficulty or challenge try to imagine what would change if you let the Spirit led you. Try to come up with something concrete.

Rest in the love of your God.