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Holy Pentecost

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In the Church's annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is "the last and great day."  It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end -- the achievement and fulfillment -- of the entire history of salvation.  For the same reason, however, it is also the celebration of the beginning: it is the "birthday" of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness. 

The Epistle reading today describes the events of Pentecost while the Gospel reading tells of debates among the Jews as to the person of Jesus.  The first three verses of the Gospel have a direct bearing on the Holy Spirit.  One the one hand, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit depends on belief in Jesus, while on the other hand, the Holy Spirit will be given when the physical presence of Jesus will have withdrawn from this world.

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The following readings below are for Sunday, May 20, 2018:


Today's Epistle reading [Acts 2.1-11]:

 
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.  And at this sound the mutitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."
 
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The Gospel reading for today [John 7.37-52;8.12]:


On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'."  Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

When they heard these words, some of the people said, "This is really the prophet."  Others said, "This is the Christ."  But some said, "Is the Christ to come from Galilee?"  Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?"  So there was a division among the people over him.  Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, "Why did you not bring him?"  The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this man!"  The Pharisees answered them, "Are you led astray, you also?  Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him?  But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed."  Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?"  They replied, "Are you from Galilee too? Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Gallilee." Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."