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This Sunday's Programme

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Pentecost Sunday C

Sunday 5th June 2022

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 14:15-16, 23-26

Jesus said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments. And I shall ask the Father and he will give you a ‘paraclete’ to remain with you for ever.
‘If someone loves me and keeps my words, my Father will love that person and we shall come and make our home within that person.
‘The one who doesn’t love me, doesn’t keep my word. Be sure of this, the word I speak is not my own, it is the word of the one who sent me, the Father!
‘I have spoken these words to you while I was with you but the Consoler, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send you in my name, will teach you and remind you of all that was said to you.’

Psalm

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

This Sunday's Psalm

Ps 103: 1,24,29-31,35

My soul, praise God.
God you are great beyond our imaginings,
-your many works fashioned with wisdom,
the earth teeming with creatures!

When you hide your face,
your creatures are terrified.
When you take away their breath,
they die – returning to dust.

But when you send your Spirit,
they are created,
the face of the earth is renewed.

Let your glory last forever.
your works give you joy.
Let my thoughts please you,
as I find my joy 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

Loving Father, you desire to be with me in my life. Let me recognise how Jesus and the Holy Spirit are constantly working as Advocates to bring me to the fullness of life in your love.

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

I live on the Capricorn Coast. We look out to the Keppel Islands and from here we see ‘three’ islands in the central group. Go a few kilometres south, and you can see ‘eight’ islands. Perspective can change our view dramatically. This Gospel for Pentecost is almost the same as the Gospel for the 6th Sunday of Easter but with just a few changes in verses we have a change in perspective. We look at the same ideals but with an emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s role in our fulfilment of those ideals. In the opening sentence we have a statement that Jesus makes in varying forms in the Last Discourse: the one who loves him obeys his commandments/words. There are two ways in which we need the Holy Spirit’s aid in fulfilling this ideal. Obedience without love is slavery. Love without action is useless. Often when we are called to obey Jesus’ commands we do not ‘feel’ a natural human impulse towards that action. It is the Holy Spirit’s love that will make up for our lack of love and stop our obedience from being sub-human compliance with another’s wishes. As ‘paraclete’ the Holy Spirit will strengthen, console and support us in our actions.

But how are we to love? As we hear Jesus commands, they seem so sublime, so spiritual we can struggle to work out how they could be fulfilled in any earthly way. For example, how could you or I love one another as the Father has loved Jesus? This is where the Spirit is yet again ‘paraclete’ to us. The Spirit guides us in translating the transcendent love of God into practical service in ordinary life, especially when that life is fraught with sin and suffering. Such attentiveness to the Spirit is not an attitude that we can afford to leave for times of serious decision or challenge. Rather our cries for the Spirit’s help should be part of the weft and warp of daily life.

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

‘Do follows be’. That is a simple philosophical axiom. Simple but with profound consequences. It means that as a thing or person is, so will they act. A tree like a tree, a dog like a dog, a human like a human and a Spirit-filled human will act like Jesus, like God.

When we say, ‘We believe in the Holy Spirit’ we say we believe that the Holy Spirit is effective in our lives. The Spirit does not come to give us warm, fuzzy feelings but to transform us – to change the way we act. In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus makes repeated correlations between receiving the Spirit and putting his words, his commandments into action. From this perspective, we see that being good and moral does not make us worthy to receive the Spirit. Rather receiving the Spirit makes us capable of being good and moral.

Jesus’ ‘words’ can seem rather general, even nebulous. How does one ‘Love as I have loved you’? The wisdom to do that is beyond us. That is why we are given the Spirit as the guide within the ordinary, practical events of daily life. The divine love we are called to emulate is to be given to the people we travel with on public transport, to work colleagues, to the person who serves us in the store just as it is to be given to those with whom our lives are more intimately involved. Our lives are to be so influenced by this Spirit that our actions will reveal the ground of our being. Yes, do will follow be.

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

Loneliness is a terrible affliction- so awful that it is difficult to remember what it felt like after a period of loneliness has passed. We can readily recall feelings of anger, shame, illicit desire but something in our psyche so abhors the feeling of being alone that it is hard to recall it. Quite simply, we are so deeply made for relationship that it is hard to imagine the opposite. We want to relate and we want someone looking out for us.

In this Gospel for Pentecost, Jesus tells of the great gift of the Father that will be given on his departure – the ‘Paraclete’. It is hard to convey in English the range of meanings of this word: guide, legal advocate, counsellor, consoler, teacher, support, strengthener – in short a person who is totally on our side, looking out for our best interests, caring for us better than we could do for ourselves. So why don’t we feel it? Maybe one reason lies in how we judge our lives. Our vision is so often short-sighted. We experience our immediate needs and desires and we tend to judge how well they are fulfilled in the short term and we can be very disgruntled or upset if life does not go according to our terms. We need a mental revolution, to see as God sees. Even in small events, we have to open to consider how the Spirit might be looking out for us according to our overall needs, the big picture of our lives. The missed train, the lost clothing can be small lessons that enrich our lives on a daily basis.

We are so naturally self-centred that it is almost impossible for us to stop our constant, narrow minded judgements. That is why we need the Paraclete. But when you read the above list of meanings, you realise that life will never be very easy with such a person on our side. The Spirit person wants so much for us than we could possibly want for ourselves: the fullness of life and love within God.

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

Art Works

  • This fresco by Giotto di Bondone (click red text) shows the disciples awaiting the descent of the Spirit.
  • In this painting by Anton Raphael Mengs (click red text) Mary is at the centre of the praying disciples.
  • This fresco by Mikhail Vrubel (click red text) is in the Cathedral of St Cyril, Kiev. This is a detail showing Mary with three 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 terrifies them?

Movies

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

Mull on the times we you feel needy. As the Holy Spirit to show you what the true source of that need is and to show you how to fulfil it properly.

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. The Holy Spirit is the Paraclete desiring to be with you in all situations. Consider the various aspects of your life. When do you feel needy, distressed or overwhelmed? Take some of those situations, one by one, and imagine how the Spirit could strengthen, guide, support or teach you in those situations.

Try to live according to this wisdom in the coming week. How could you regularly invite the Spirit into your life? Rest in the love of your God.

Suggestions for the Programme

The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.

DAILY PRAYER

Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Our Father
Prayer

Or

Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
Psalm
Our Father

PRAYER

Staff Prayer
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.

Example
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Reflection
Invitation for share reflections
Our Father
Prayer

Another Example
Hymn
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
Psalm
Our Father
Prayer

  • If God Is for Us by Grayson Warren Brown
  • Send forth your Spirit by M Joncas
  • O Breathe on Me, O Breath of God by Edwin Hatch
  • Send Down the Fire by Marty Haugen
  • Send Us Your Spirit by D Haas
  • Veni Creator Spiritus
  • Veni Sancte Spiritus Taize chant

None of the poems below directly mention the Holy Spirit but all describe effects that the Spirit’s power has in our lives.

The Travail of Passion

When the flaming lute-thronged angelic door is wide;
When an immortal passion breathes in mortal clay;
Our hearts endure the scourge, the plaited thorns, the way
Crowded with bitter faces, the wounds in palm and side,
The hyssop-heavy sponge, the flowers by Kidron stream:
We will bend down and loosen our hair over you,
That it may drop faint perfume, and be heavy with dew,
Lilies of death-pale hope, roses of passionate dream.

W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)

Hope

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea,
Yet never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Tie the strings to my life, my Lord

Tie the strings to my life, my Lord,
Then I am ready to go!
Just a look at the horses–
Rapid! That will do!

Put me in on the firmest side,
So I shall never fall;
For we must ride to the Judgment,
And it’s partly down hill.

But never I mind the bridges,
And never I mind the sea;
Held fast in everlasting race
By my own choice and thee.

Good-by to the life I used to live,
And the world I used to know;
And kiss the hills for me, just once;
Now I am ready to go!

John Donne (1572-1631)

Confined Love

Some man unworthy to be possessor
Of old or new love, himself being false or weak,
Thought his pain and shame would be lesser,
If on womankind he might his anger wreak,
And thence a law did grow,
One might but one man know;
But are other creatures so?

Are sun, moon, or stars by law forbidden
9To smile where they list, or lend away their light?
Are birds divorced or are they chidden
If they leave their mate, or lie abroad a night?
Beasts do no jointures lose
Though they new lovers choose,
But we are made worse than those.

Who e’r rigg’d fair ships to lie in harbours,
And not to seek lands, or not to deal with all?
Or built fair houses, set trees, and arbours,
Only to lock up, or else to let them fall?
Good is not good, unless
A thousand it possess,
But doth waste with greediness.

John Donne (1572-1631)