Reflection upon Readings of the Vigil Mass of Pentecost

PENITENTIAL READING: Genesis 11: 1-9

The early chapters of the Book of Genesis speak both of the beauty and goodness of creation and how our sin disfigures that creation. They also trace how sin begins with the small act of self-will by Adam and Eve but grows to a level of destructiveness that engulfs all in the Flood. The story of Babel and its tower, which follows the end of the Flood, shows well how humanity has not learnt, and our continued self-will and rebelliousness leads even to the divine gift of language becoming a source of division rather than unity. On Pentecost Day, the nations are reunited in the Market Place by the Universal Tongue of faith … the Holy Spirit heals Babel’s babble of division into a new unity.

FIRST VIGIL READING: Exodus 19: 3-8. 16-20

Our God is the God of Covenant Love. From Noah and Abraham to Moses and Joshua,  God is binding the Divine Presence and Plan to the story of a People journeying in Faith. At Sinai the Covenant is witnessed in cloud, fire and storm. But this Covenant reaches its most intense expression as the the apostles, disciples and Mary experience the fullest outpouring of Love in the form of the Mighty Wind of Divine Energy and God’s Love being burned into the hearts and melting them into Unity in Pentecost’s Upper Room.  

SECOND VIGIL READING: Isaiah 61: 1-3, 6, 8-9

Jesus was to quote this wonderful Prophecy of Isaiah when he describes his own ministry in the Synagogue of Nazareth. It expresses not only his work in the world – raising up the poor, enlightening rich and poor alike when we are blind to each other plight, serving freedom and human rights everywhere – but also the work of every Christian, and every Christian community anointed by the Spirit. The Spirit seeks to renew and heal the face of the wounded earth and all its peoples – to bring about the endless Jubilee of justice, mercy and joy, the ‘Year of Favour’.

THIRD VIGIL READING: Ezechiel 37: 1-14

The first name for the Spirit in the Bible is the ‘Ruah’, or breath or wind of God. The Upper Room of Pentecost morning was filled with the same mighty wind as that described by Ezechiel in this prophetic vision. The Wind of the Spirit breathes New Life, brings us fully alive in Christ, and enables us to be an ‘army for the Lord’ – an army of peace and healing and life-giving. Let us allow the Spirit to blow through our lives and our community.

FOURTH VIGIL READING: Joel 3: 1-5

Peter quotes from this passage when trying to explain the extraordinary event of God that is Pentecost’s outpouring of life and joy. Even the excluded ones – the slaves, the women – now receive the boundless generosity of God, as all are welcomed to share the dream of God, the Vision of the Kingdom – a world renewed in the Holy Spirit. As we dream and share the vision, so we are empowered to work in the power of the Spirit to make a new world … a world of true Jubilee!

EPISTLE READING: Romans 8: 22-27

The Gift of Tongues is one expression of the groaning of the Spirit deep within us … and deep within creation itself, as Paul tells us. Creation’s freedom and our own are bound together in the Spirit who comes to us in our weakness to be the flame of salvation and hope. In the Spirit we yearn for a freedom that is total.

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