Engaging the Gospel – Pentecost

Gospel – John 7:37-39 (Vigil), (Year C) John 20:19-23 or John 14:15-16, 23b-26

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit fulfills Old Testament prophecy, and continues in the life of the Church, as the Catechism explains:

In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for His saving mission…[Jesus’] whole life and His whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit Whom the Father gives Him “without measure.”

This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people…a promise which [Christ] fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly at Pentecost.

–Catechism paragraphs 1286-87

From that time on, the apostles, in fulfillment of Christ’s will, imparted to the newly baptized by the laying on of hands the gift of the Spirit that completes the grace of Baptism…The imposition of hands is rightly recognized by the Catholic tradition as the origin of the sacrament of Confirmation, which in a certain way perpetuates the grace of Pentecost in the Church.

–Paul VI, quoted in Catechism 1288

Through the anointing of the sacrament of Confirmation, we receive the indelible “mark, the seal of the Holy Spirit. A seal is a symbol of a person, a sign of personal authority, or ownership of an object” (1295).

“This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in His service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial” (1296).

The “effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost” (1303).

Question for reflection: How have I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in my life?


Engaging the Gospel – Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C): Gospel – Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21

Jesus reveals that He is the fulfillment of prophecy

“In the Old Testament, the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission” (Catechism paragraph 1286).

The book of the prophet Isaiah, in particular, reveals the characteristics of the Messiah. “This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News” by reading Isaiah 61:1-2 to those in attendance at the Nazareth synagogue (714).

The very title of Messiah – which means “anointed” in Hebrew, and is translated into Greek as Christos – signifies a “divine mission” (436).

St. Irenaeus, writing in the second century, considered the anointing from the perspective of the Holy Trinity: “The One Who anointed is the Father, the One Who was anointed is the Son, and He was anointed with the Spirit Who is the anointing” (quoted in 438).

Question for reflection: When did I first truly embrace Jesus as my Savior?

Engaging the Gospel – Second Sunday of Advent

Second Sunday of Advent (Year B): Gospel – Mark 1:1-8

St. John the Baptist prepares the way of the Lord

“The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries,” as the Catechism phrases it:

He makes everything converge on Christ: all the rituals and sacrifices, figures and symbols of the ‘First Covenant.’ He announces Him through the mouths of the prophets who succeeded one another in Israel.

–Catechism paragraph 522.

This prophetic tradition culminates in St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, who serves as “the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare His way” (523).

We ourselves enter into “this ancient expectancy of the Messiah” during the season of Advent, which comes from the Latin term for “arrival.” We share “in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming,” and at the same time, renew our “ardent desire for His second coming” (524).

John the Baptist prepared the people by calling them to conversion. Because “sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it,” sin is “an offense against God” (1850).

To prepare ourselves for the Lord, we too must turn our hearts back to Him in repentance. Christ has given us the sacrament of Reconciliation (1442-46) for our benefit; let us grasp at the graces He offers to us.

Question for reflection: How am I preparing the way of the Lord during this season of Advent?