Agents of Completeness

This past Monday one of the readings for daily Mass was from Acts of the Apostles. I described St. Paul’s encounter with two men who had received the baptism of John of the Baptist, were apparently part of the Christian community in Ephesus, but had never heard of nor received the Holy Spirit. Paul baptized them and laid hands upon them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. From then the two men went about using their gifts given by the Spirit. Continue reading

Whose sins you forgive

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. Many scholars see a parallel between John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  The parallel becomes clearer when we know that the words “forgive” in John 20:23 are the Greek words aphiēmi and krateō which mean “send away” and “hold” respectively [EDNT 2:314].  But even with the parallels aside, the meaning, extent and exercise of the Matthean and Johannine powers has been a source of division with the post-Reformation Christian community. Continue reading

Receive the Holy Spirit

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. John 20:21–22 form a key passage in Johannine theology. The disciples receive the Holy Spirit at this second coming of Jesus: the eschaton, the final era, is now; future is present. In 7:39, the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus was not yet glorified. On the cross, Jesus, manifesting the nature of God, which is love, delivers over the Spirit (19:30), symbolized immediately afterward by the flow of the sacramental symbols of blood and water. And now, at his first encounter with the believing community, he breathes the Spirit again as he celebrates the re-creation of God’s people. Continue reading

As the Father has sent me, so I send you

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. The Fourth Gospel speaks often of Jesus being sent into the world by the Father: to do his will (6:38–39; 8:29), to speak his words (3:34; 8:28; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8), to perform his works (4:34; 5:36; 9:4) and win salvation for all who believe (3:16–17). That the disciples were sent to continue the words and works of Jesus is foreshadowed at various places in the Gospel. Continue reading

Peace be with you

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. While the first reading (Acts 2:1-11) describes the events we associate with Pentecost Sunday, the Gospel of John account tells of the appearance of Jesus following of the events that took place at the tomb in the early morning of the first day of the week (John 20:1–18).  There near the empty tomb of Jesus, the risen Savior first appeared to Mary Magdalene.  Our gospel contains the second and third appearances of the risen Jesus. These three appearances take place in Jerusalem.  There is a fourth and final appearance of Jesus later in a section referred to as the “Epilogue” of John.  This appearance is at the “Sea of Tiberias” in Galilee (John 21). Continue reading

John’s Pentecost

The first reading for Pentecost Sunday is the account from Acts 2 so familiar to every Christian. Luke’s account is a very public event compared to the very private Johannine account.  The Lucan account occurs 50 days after the Resurrection. The Johannine account occurs on the evening of the same day as the Resurrection. Continue reading

Pentecost and the Festival of Weeks

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. The Greek name (pentēkostē) refers to the Jewish Feast of Weeks. The name itself means “50th” and is taken because the festival occurs 50 days after Passover (Acts 20:16; 1 Cor 16:8). Because the early Christians received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on this day, the term is now more commonly used to refer to that event recounted in Acts 2:1–13 and celebrated on Pentecost Sunday. Continue reading

Now what

As a liturgical season, Lent is rather straightforward. It is kinda’ easy to write about. There is Ash Wednesday to dramatically mark its beginning, and we all know we are moving relentlessly towards Easter. We count the days even as we mark Lent’s beginning. The Ashes make a visible mark upon us, reminding us that we are dust and to dust we shall return – but that is not the end of the story. We are reminded to repent and believe in the Gospel – but that is not the end goal. We are encouraged to pray, fast, and give alms – but those practices are meant to make room in our lives for God that we too may rise to the newness of life at Eastertide. Continue reading

Everyday Pentecost

If we are attentive to Scripture we should be able to recall the Apostles’ reaction to their witnesses to the Resurrection:  let’s see….. went back to the Upper Room and hid, .. hmm…. they went fishing in their old haunts of Galilee … what else? … then went back to the Upper Room … then went out to witness the Ascension … and went back to the Upper Room.  At first glance it seems as though there is a lot of lollygagging going on. I mean what happened to Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”?  Not a whole lot of going, disciple making, baptizing or teaching going on.  What’s up with that?

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