Students, and most adults recalling their school days, are familiar with the phrase “compare and contrast” that shows up from time to time on tests. Today we hear two different accounts of the giving of the Holy Spirit to the church. Let’s contrast, then compare. Luke’s account from Acts is filled with arresting details: the mighty wind from heaven, the tongues of flame, the miracle of different languages. John’s account seems timid: fearful disciples, the wounded Christ, the expelling of breath from his risen body, not from the sky. Our literal, modern minds wonder which way it happened; our noisy culture probably makes us prefer the former. But if we compare the two, we find that the dazzling richness of the Spirit fills both accounts, for it is the very breath of the risen Christ, ascended to the sky in Luke, that appears to his disciples in John and sends his followers forth to carry on his mission of forgiving sin and proclaiming the mighty acts of God.
There is a delightful character in the original Dr. Dolittle Tales called the “Pushmi-Pullyu.” It is a beast with two identical halves, with a head at each end. No matter which direction the beast walks, one end is the “push me” and the other is the “pull you.” Today’s feast is a bit like that in the life of the church. In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, it is the ascension of Christ that calls for the Holy Spirit, which consequently sends or “pushes” the church out on its mission. This is the message that we hear from the angels today as they tell the friends of Jesus not to look up into the clouds, but to get busy. It is the message of Jesus himself in Matthew’s Gospel, as he sends them out to baptize. He also tells them, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And it is this message, confident in faith that Jesus has ascended to shouts of joy, that “pulls” us along to our final destiny. The life of the faithful disciple, sent into the world on mission, will one day know the same risen, ascended glory.
We welcome our parishioners back beginning Pentecost Weekend (May 30-31). It is a gift to receive the sacraments.
Through the Diocesan Guidelines, the Center for Disease Control, for public safety, the common good and with a delicate balance, St. George will be observing the following guidelines. Please note that guidelines can be changed at any time to ensure reasonable safety of our parishioners, ministers and priests.READ MORE
“What is the reason for your hope?” Imagine somebody coming up to you and asking you that question. Not “What are you hoping for?” or “What are you hoping to do?” No, this isn’t about our desires for possessions or aspirations for life, it’s “Why do you hope?” Peter today tells us that we ought to be ready to give an answer to this question. Truth be told, few of us spend much time thinking about why we hope. Luckily, the scriptures today give us our answers. We hope because Christ suffered for us, in order that we might come to God. We hope because we know that, in the Spirit, God grants us another Advocate through Christ to remain with us always. No matter what we might hope for, whatever we might hope to do, we must always first know and proclaim the reason for our hope: the presence of God in Christ, with us through the power of the Spirit.
Roman Catholics in the United States spend a good deal of time speaking of “vocation” and the manner in which each of us discerns our vocation for life. In today’s apostolic letter, however, Peter gives us the “cornerstone” of our vocation, the description of what each of us is called to first and foremost by our baptism. He describes our vocation as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of [God’s] own, so that you may announce the praises” of Christ, who called us out of darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9). All of us, no matter what path our life’s vocation may take us down, have been chosen by God, made holy, and anointed as priests in the high priesthood of Christ through baptism. All of this, so that we may announce the praises of Christ. Vocation is given for proclamation at home, in the workplace— wherever life takes us—in service, in word, and in sacrament.
For a while it was very fashionable to own pigs as pets. The publicity surrounding these creatures informed us that they were—contrary to their popular image—very clean animals, and also quite smart. Sad to say, sheep will most likely never enjoy this sort of domestic vogue. They are neither clean nor smart and are largely defenseless when left on their own, even in large numbers. The biblical image of us as the flock of sheep is not a particularly flattering one. Sheep without a shepherd are truly sad, because they most likely will perish either from their inability to fend for themselves or from their lack of defenses against predators. Placing ourselves in the heart of this unflattering image can reinforce our faith. Until we come to a profound realization of how much we need a shepherd, we cannot appreciate how deeply blessed we are to have been given a Shepherd, one who laid down his life for us and was raised to life eternal in the Spirit, so he might guide us and we might follow him in faith forever.