May 28, 2023
There is a connection between the Annunciation in the Gospel according to St. Luke and Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles – by the same author. In both accounts there is an association between Mary and the Holy Spirit. At the Annunciation. Mary is perplexed by the greeting and the message of the Angel that she has found favor with God and will conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus. 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 some women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brothers” gather in the “upper room” devoted in prayer. They hear and feel a rushing wind and see tongues of fire. “All of them are filled with the Holy Spirit…”
There is another association of Mary and 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 a mother and son. The evangelist observes when Jesus dies, he bows his head and “gives up his spirit”. “Gives up” in the Greek has a sense of “a bequest.” The Spirit is bestowed on the mother of Jesus and on the disciple Jesus loves.
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 and bequeaths his spirit, the new holy family is formed, the beloved community. At Pentecost, the mighty wind and fire of the Holy Spirit empower the disciples to step out from their enclosure and announce to the wider world that Jesus crucified has been raised by God the Father.
We are in a fitting place, the Church of the Annunciation, to celebrate Pentecost. The red vestment and banners, the red flowers and clothing, 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 find ourselves in difficult and challenging times. We are waiting for the announcement of the new Pastor of our Family unsure of how five parishes can align and coalesce together. The society of which we are a part has become increasingly secular where traditional values are discarded or viewed with suspicion. Discourse on many pressing issues is often contentious; the war in Ukraine enters its second year; Mass shootings in the United States are common; refugees are fleeing violence and poverty in their own countries with the hope of finding better places to live. We are called to uphold the sanctity of human life in the womb and, at the same time, the dignity of women.
With Mary at the Annunciation, we pray for the Holy Spirit to discern and to accept God’s will. With Mary at the cross, we pray for the Holy Spirit to acknowledge and to heal profound losses in our lives. With Mary at Pentecost, we pray for the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to new possibilities of living and sharing our faith. On this Memorial Day weekend, as we honor those who have died serving in the U.S. Armed forces, we pray God to welcome these brave souls into the kingdom of peace beyond the battlefields of this world and to send the Holy Spirit to comfort families who mourn their loss. May God grant us the power and resolve of the Holy Spirit to build world at peace.
Ascension of the Lord
The Most Holy Trinity