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8 June 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 13-06-2014

Pentecost

 

Pentecost was a Jewish festival celebrated fifty days after Easter. It began as a harvest festival and then it was broadened by the Jews to commemorate the covenant made with God, under Moses, in the Sinai desert where they were fashioned into a people, the people of God. The Christians transposed the feast into a remembrance of the emergence of a new people of God on this first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus. So today is kept as the Church’s birthday.  But you have a problem, maybe. The gospel doesn’t seem to fit.        I know what you’re thinking. You are thinking that Our Lord was talking about confession - giving the apostles power to absolve from sins in the sacrament of Penance. Confession, as we know it, was hundreds of years down the line.  It is baptism Our Lord has in mind. Baptism is a new birth. We die to our past in baptism. Our Lord is giving the apostles authority to judge a person’s fitness for baptism, for being admitted as a member of the Church. When you’re baptised you are not just being given a membership ticket. You become part of a living organism, the Body of Christ, and within that organism you have a function. Are you up to it? The Apostles had the authority to decide.  The miracle that occurred on that first Christian Pentecost points in the same direction. The practical elimination of difference in language symbolised a new unity among peoples. Sadly, among the baptised there have been misunderstandings: there are splits in the Body of Christ. Here in Thornton there are Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists. All have been baptised. All those baptisms worked, were genuine, are valid. At the deepest level, therefore, we are one; using OL.’s words, we are one in him. It was his prayer at the Last Supper that we should show our oneness to the world. On a small scale we do. This afternoon we are invited to the Methodist church.     We should consider going because it would be Our Lord’s wish. I remember, when I was a lad, some non-Catholic ladies, who knew I’d been to Mass, would ask me if I’d enjoyed the service. And I would be embarrassed. Enjoyment was not in my Catholic vocabulary.  The experience of a priest, standing with his back to you, mumbling away in Latin, was to be endured rather than enjoyed, but we went because Our Lord had said ‘Do this in memory of me’, and, of course, we treasured our Holy Communion.  So ecumenism, attending, when invited, other Christian churches, is not for the few who might enjoy it - we respond because it is Our Lord’s wish that we should show a common front.  To stand together in the face of an aggressively secular world, is becoming more important than ever.  

Comments
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