Date: Sunday, June 05, 2022
There is a connection between the Annunciation and Pentecost in the Gospel according to St. Luke and in the Acts of the Apostles by the same author. In both texts, there is the association of Mary and the Holy Spirit! At the Annunciation, when Mary is perplexed by the greeting and request of the Angel that she will conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus, the Angel Gabriel explains, “The Holy Spirit will come down upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” At Pentecost, after the Ascension, “the apostles, with certain women and Mary, and the brothers” gather in the “upper room” devoted in prayer. They hear and feel rushing wind and see tongues of fire. “All of them are filled with the Holy Spirit…”
There is another association of Mary with the Holy Spirit in the Gospel According to St. John. The evangelist relates when Jesus is dying, he notices his mother and the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross. Jesus asks them to care for one another like mother and son. The evangelist observes when Jesus dies, he bows his head and “gives up his spirit.” “Gives up” in the Greek means “a bequest.” The Holy Spirit is bestowed on the mother of Jesus and the disciple Jesus loved.
We can discern the effects of the Holy Spirit in each of these three occurrences with Mary. At the Annunciation, Mary is inspired to trust in God’s Word and to surrender to God’s will. At the cross when Jesus dies, the Spirit begins to form the new holy family, the beloved community. At Pentecost, the mighty wind and fire of the Holy Spirit empowers the disciples to open the windows and doors of their enclosure and announce to the wider world that Jesus, crucified, has been raised by God.
We are in a fitting place, the Church of the Annunciation, to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. The red vestments, the color of our apparel and red flowers signify the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord) and the fruits of the Holy Spirit (charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity).
We are in difficult and challenging times. There has been a decline in vocations to priesthood and a decline in church attendance due to multiple factors including the abuse crisis, loss of trust, isolation during the pandemic and general disenchantment with organized religion. The society of which we are part has become increasing secular where traditional values are discarded or suspect. Discourse on many pressing issues is often contentious. War in Ukraine, violence in Buffalo and in Texas weighs heavy in our hearts and on our minds. We are called upon to uphold the sanctity of human life in the womb and, at the same time, the dignity of women.
Today, we pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to renew our faith community, our bonds with the Church at Buffalo and our engagement in society. Monday after Pentecost is a new Marian feast, “The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.” It will be an appropriate day to highlight our parish vision and mission. “With Mary, we joyfully announce, “God with us” in Jesus Christ. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we strive to create a faith community of love and hope, of prayer, welcome and service, where others will discover in and with us that Christ is Life.”