Whenever there is a major news story, several accounts are presented by the various media, each giving a different angle or developing a particular point of view. The bigger the story, the greater the number of accounts.
The same is true in our Scriptures. There is more than one way to understand an event or present it. Thus we have two accounts of creation, a presentation of the Exodus that weaves together a couple of major traditions, two reports of Jesus' birth, and as we have heard today, two presentations of the gift of the Spirit to the disciples.
For the Jewish people at the time Luke was writing, the Feast of Pentecost was a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses, thus forming the people of God through the Covenant. The Law was given on Mt. Sinai in an atmosphere of wind and fire. Now, in the Acts of the Apostles, the new people of God are formed through the gift of the Spirit, signified by wind and fire as well.
In the Gospel of John, the Spirit is given through the breathing of Jesus upon the disciples. This image of breath would remind John's readers of the account in which God breathed the breath of life into the newly formed human being. For John then, the coming of the Spirit was akin to a new creation-humanity experiencing a new birth.
Whether concentrating on covenant or creation, there is no doubt that these two writers saw the Spirit's presence as bringing a change in the lives of individuals and in the collective life of the people of God.
For us today, this celebration can begin a deeper understanding of who we are before God as a parish and as individuals. St. Paul reminds us that each of us has been given a "manifestation of the Spirit" for some benefit. Each of us is gifted and is to share that gift with the community as a whole if the community is to function well.
Today, use the Spirit's gifts of wisdom and understanding to discover and reflect on your unique quality, your gift, and how you might better use it for the benefit of our parish family.
-Fr. Sas, June 8 Homily
Pentecost, Year A