May 31, 2020

Revised Common Lectionary

Acts 2:1-21 or Numbers 11:24-30
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
John 20:19-23 or John 7:37-39

Lectionary for Mass (RC)

Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 (see 30)
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
John 20:19-23

In recent weeks we have heard stories of extraordinary power. The power of love in families that care for their sick and grieve their dead. The power of compassion among nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers who gaze reassuringly into the eyes of the fearful. The power of generosity from neighbors and volunteers who deliver food, mow lawns, and make phone calls. The power of creativity in those who write and compose songs of hope and lead others to sing, even at a distance.

The scriptures for Pentecost offer a context for reflecting on the Spirit’s power in our midst. In today’s Gospel reading, the risen Christ breathes the Spirit upon the disciples and empowers them for the work of reconciliation. In the passage from Acts, the disciples experience the coming of the Holy Spirit in dramatic fashion as the rush of a violent wind and the descent of flame-like tongues as they are filled with power to proclaim Good News in ways they could never before have imagined.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul urges members of that community to pay attention to the charisms through which they have been empowered, reminding them that gifts they receive from Spirit are intended not for themselves the common good. Much of the teaching in this letter is offered as a corrective to a community that had suffered serious divisions, which had sprung at least in part from valuing self-expression over service in the use of gifts and talents.

On this fiftieth day of Easter, the risen Christ once again breathes the Spirit upon us so that we may speak and act to bring healing and reconciliation. In a world that continues to change and challenge our expectations, how is the Spirit leading us to use our gifts for the common good, to witness and serve in ways that are less about self-expression than about benefiting others? What are the needs in our families, our communities, and the world around us that the Spirit of God is empowering us to address?

Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with your love and power!

A Hymn for Today: “Like the Murmur of the Dove’s Song”

Carl P. Daw, Jr., FHS, former Executive Director of The Hymn Society, wrote this text specifically for Peter Cutts’s tune BRIDEGROOM. In his notes for the hymnal Glory to God, he offers these comments: “The text stanzas cluster around various themes developed through a series of images and grounded in the refrain: how the Spirit comes, to whom the Spirit comes, and for what purposes the Spirit comes.”

Like the murmur of the dove’s song,
like the challenge of her flight,
like the vigor of the wind’s rush,
like the new flame’s eager might:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

To the members of Christ’s body,
to the branches of the Vine,
to the church in faith assembled,
to our midst as gift and sign:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

With the healing of division,
with the ceaseless voice of prayer,
with the power to love and witness,
with the peace beyond compare:
Come, Holy Spirit, come.

Text by Carl P. Daw, Jr., alt. © 1982 Hope Publishing Company. Used by permission.

Image Credit: Pentecost. Stained glass, Table View Methodist Church, Cape Town, South Africa

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.