Scripture Reflection for Pentecost Sunday
by Jacki Popadich
Reading I: Acts 2:1-11
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
GOSPEL: John 20:19-23
Motor Oil for the Soul?
A number of years ago a series of books hit the market and became phenomenal bestsellers — the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. These books are chock full of stories to help you feel better about yourself and humanity when you’re feeling down. They have chicken soup flavors for every kind of soul imaginable, from NASCAR to college students to golfers. And I never even knew that my soul liked chicken soup! Go figure.
But here’s the thing: chicken soup isn’t always enough for my soul. It probably isn’t enough for yours either. Why is that? Well, the soul is like an engine, and it needs some oil to make it run smoothly. Great, you’re probably thinking. First chicken soup, now oil? Where the heck do I even find oil for my soul?
Holy Spirit in the Pit Crew
This weekend we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. It’s the birthday of the church (happy birthday, Church!) because it’s when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles, just as Jesus promised would happen.
In last weekend’s first reading, we heard that when the Holy Spirit descended it would give us power. And at the first Pentecost, boy did it ever give power! The Spirit gave the Apostles the power to speak in languages from all over the world, and it gave the people around them the ability to hear the message in their own language.
Running a Quart Low
When we are baptized, and later again when we are confirmed, we are anointed with oil. This oil is one of the outward signs of our commitment to our faith when we celebrate these sacraments. Just as an engine runs less smoothly (if it runs at all) without oil, so too, our faith needs the oil and the Holy Spirit to keep it in good running condition.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he warns us of some of the pitfalls we can run into if we don’t keep our faith engine well-oiled with the Spirit. And when an engine is not running well, it can end up damaging the whole vehicle. The sins that Paul mentions, if taken far enough, can lead us down a path of self-destruction if we aren’t careful. But if we have the Holy Spirit with us, we are less likely to suffer those damages.
Oil for Higher Mileage Engines
Jesus promised that he’d send us an Advocate — and he certainly didn’t disappoint when he sent us the Holy Spirit. Ever since that first Pentecost, the Spirit has been guiding not only our soul-engines, but also that of the Church herself.
The Spirit has kept us running for almost 2000 years. And even though we may not always know the direction we are headed, we trust that the Holy Spirit knows the way and will remain active in the Church — today and always.
So on this birthday celebration of the Church, put away the cake and ice cream. Forget about the chicken soup. Just let the oil flow.
Happy birthday, Church!
How do you let the Holy Spirit guide you?
How do you see it guiding the Church?
How have you let the oil run low in your faith life? How do you refill?
Copyright 2006-2015 by Jacki Popadich
All rights reserved.