Pentecost (B)
May 23, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.









O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast

sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation,

pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit

across the face of the earth

and, with the divine grace that was at work

when the Gospel was first proclaimed,

fill now once more the hearts of believers.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

First Reading (Acts 2:1-11)

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

  Now there were devout men living in Jerusalem from every nation under heaven, and at this sound they all assembled, each one bewildered to hear these men speaking his own language. They were amazed and astonished. ‘Surely’ they said ‘all these men speaking are Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; people from Mesopotamia, Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya round Cyrene; as well as visitors from Rome – Jews and proselytes alike – Cretans and Arabs; we hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.’

Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O Lord!
the earth is full of your creatures;

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme;
I will be glad in the LORD.

If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.

Second Reading (I Cor. 12:3-7, 12-13)

No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

Golden Sequence


Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
May that light within us shine
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint and ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.

Amen. Alleluia.

Gospel Acclamation


Gospel (John 20:19-23)

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’


[In this selection from Cardinal Tobin’s pastoral letter, I have highlighted a series of questions which he asks for his own diocese and which are offered for your reflection as well]:

Like true love, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a mystery we can never fully comprehend. It is grace itself, an unmerited gift from God that we are invited and challenged to accept with an open mind and a grateful heart. We are called to recognize Jesus as truly present in the consecrated bread and wine, His Body and Blood. We are also called to recognize ourselves as true members of the same Body and Blood of Christ who are intimately united with Him and with each other through the miracle that occurs each time we receive the Eucharist. For this reason, the priest or minister never says “receive Jesus,” but rather, “The Body of Christ.”

The “Amen” that we respond can never be perfunctory. It should be a genuine, heartfelt expression of our faith in Christ who comes to us as Lord and brother, who becomes one with us in the most intimate communion that is possible for us and creates communion among all the members of His Body. Each time we receive the Holy Eucharist, we accept the Lord’s great commission to proclaim His Gospel and to minister to His people in every nation to the ends of the earth.

What can each of us do to help our brothers and sisters here in northern New Jersey return to the Grace and Beauty of the Eucharist? How will we encourage those who hesitate to join us in personally celebrating the Mass with our fellow parishioners each Sunday, when it is safe to do so in greater numbers? Is it possible that the Great Eucharistic Fast of 2020 will prove to be a blessing in disguise —a great awakening — for those of us who have consciously or unconsciously “walked away” from Jesus and His Church?

With this pastoral letter, I want to invite all members of this local Church to follow the counsel of Pope Francis quoted above. We should listen to those who no longer see the beauty of Christ’s Eucharistic presence, pray that we can help our sisters and brothers Return to Grace with open minds and grateful hearts. We should discern what is truly good for ourselves, our families and our communities. We should stay close to one another — spiritually if not physically. And we should make prudent decisions about our participation in the life of the Church, especially her worship and her ministry, without anxiety or fear.

If we trust in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the continual reopening of our parishes, schools and archdiocesan ministries will truly be a Return to Grace for the Archdiocese of Newark. As Pope Francis reminds us, we are now in a crisis and no one will emerge from this pandemic unchanged. Things will be different. The challenge is: will they be better or worse? We hope and pray that God’s people will emerge from this crisis renewed in the Spirit with an even greater love for Jesus’ astonishing gift of Himself to us in the Eucharist.

Catena Nova

We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become, if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfil their task without light, either natural or artificial,our ears cannot react without sound vibrations and in the absence of any odour, our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature, if they were not used. rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God  but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge (St. Hilary of Poiters).

Remember, then, that you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear.  Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your hearts as the pledge of what is to come (St. Ambrose of Milan).

Fiery Spirit,
fount of courage,
life within life
of all that has being!

Holy are you, transmuting the perfect
      into the real.
Holy are you, healing
      the mortally stricken.
Holy are you, cleansing
      the stench of wounds.

O sacred breath O blazing
love O savor in the breast and balm
flooding the heart with
the fragrance of good,

O limpid mirror of God
who leads wanderers
home and hunts out the lost,

Armor of the heart and hope
of the integral body,
sword-belt of honor:
save those who know bliss!

Guard those the fiend holds
free those in fetters
whom divine force wishes to save.

O current of power permeating all
in the heights upon the earth and
in all deeps:
you bind and gather
all people together.

Out of you clouds
come streaming, winds
take wing from you, dashing
rain against stone;
and ever-fresh springs
well from you, washing
the evergreen globe.

O teacher of those who know,
a joy to the wise
is the breath of Sophia.

Praise then be yours!
you are the song of praise,
the delight of life,
a hope and a potent honor
granting garlands of light (St. Hildegard of Bingen).

Today’s holy solemnity puts new heart into us, for not only do we revere its dignity, we also experience it as delightful. On this feast it is love that we specially honor, and among human beings there is no word pleasanter to the ear, no thought more tenderly dwelt on, than love. The love we celebrate is nothing other than the goodness, kindness, and charity of God; for God himself is goodness, kindness, and charity. His goodness is identical with his Spirit, with God himself. Christ’s human nature ascended from us to heaven, and on us today Christ’s Spirit has come down. In his work of disposing all things “the Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world” from the beginning, “reaching from end to end of the earth in strength, and delicately disposing everything; but as sanctifier the Spirit of the Lord has filled the whole world” since Pentecost, for on this day the gracious Spirit himself was sent by the Father and the Son on a new mission, in a new mode, by a new manifestation of his mighty power, for the sanctification of every creature. Before this day “the Spirit had not been given, for Jesus was not yet glorified,” but today he came forth from his heavenly throne to give himself in all his abundant riches to the human race, so that the divine outpouring might pervade the whole wide world and be manifested in a variety of spiritual endowments....To be sure, the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples before our Lord’s ascension when he said, “Receive the Holy Spirit: if you forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven; if you declare them unforgiven, unforgiven they remain,” but before the day of Pentecost the Spirit’s voice was still in a sense unheard. His power had not yet leaped forth, nor had the disciples truly come to know him, for they were not yet confirmed by his might; they were still in the grip of fear, cowering behind closed doors (St. Aelred of Rievaulx).

Our good Lord, the Holy Spirit — endless life dwelling in our souls — always protects us and gives us peace. Through grace, God’s Spirit brings each soul to tranquility and makes it obedient and reconciles it to God. Our good Lord constantly leads us on this path of mercy while we’re in this unpredictable life (Julian of Norwich).

A soul, that possesses the Holy Spirit, tastes such sweetness, in prayer, that it finds the time, always too short, it never loses, the holy presence of God. The Holy Spirit forms thoughts and suggests words, in the hearts of the just. The Holy Spirit is like a gardener, cultivating our souls (St. John Vianney).

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.
It is to keep the vigil of mystery,
earthless and still.
One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit,
strange as the wind’s will.

The soul that walks where the wind of the Spirit blows
turns like a wandering weather-vane toward love.
It may lament like Job or Jeremiah,
echo the wounded hart, the mateless dove.
It may rejoice in spaciousness of meadow
that emulates the freedom of the sky.

Always it walks in waylessness, unknowing;
it has cast down forever from its hand
the compass of the whither and the why.

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover.
It is becoming love, and like to Him
toward Whom we strain with metaphors of creatures:
fire-sweep and water-rush and the wind’s whim.
The soul is all activity, all silence;
and though it surges Godward to its goal,
it holds, as moving earth holds sleeping noonday,
the peace that is the listening of the soul (Jessica Powers).


Identity Crisis


            The convincing was never easy.  Even Peter, who knew from a vision he should not call any person profane or unclean (Acts 10:28), lapsed when he went from Jerusalem to Antioch.  Forgetting that if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law (II).  So when some people came to Antioch from James, the bishop of Jerusalem, Peter drew back from the Gentile converts, refusing to eat with them, for they were not keeping kosher, not keeping the Law of Moses as James’ people thought they should.


            This provoked Paul to oppose Peter to his face because, as he put it, Peter stood condemned (cf. Gl. 2:11-12).  Peter, the first person to preach the gospel on the day of Pentecost, forgetting how the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (II)--and not things like circumcision and dietary regulations.


            Thus the dividing-walls of the ancient world, the walls between Jew and Gentile, slave and citizen, male and female, these walls were leveled in the one body of the Lord, the living temple of God’s glory.  Which is why the gospel was such good news to those on the margins of ancient society.  As Peter, in a better frame of mind, would later write to the newly-baptized, among which were any number of slaves: Once you were ‘no people’ but now you are God’s people (1 Pt. 2:10).


            It goes without saying how this good news proved a threat to society.  When people who were “nobody” suddenly saw themselves as members of the body, the stage was set for a social transformation like no other.  So the Church, once expelled from the Temple for embracing the despised pagan, now faced the hostility of the Empire for embracing those on the margins of Roman life: Jerusalem yielding to Rome as the chief antagonist of the faith.


            Hence, the religion of a new humanity would demand a martyr’s witness, martyrdom being for many, including Peter and Paul, the price of following the Nazarene who counted tax collectors and zealots among his apostles; who preferred the company of sinners to that of the self-righteous; who spoke in public with women, and touched lepers.


            For a new Spirit had come upon the earth: the Lord, the Giver of Life who spoke through the prophets (Nicene Creed): the Advocate Jesus promised at the Last Supper who would guide the disciples to all truth--including many things they could not bear at the time (G).


            Things not immediately apparent to the disciples which, over the centuries, the Spirit has made clear--usually in the midst of controversy, like the question about the Gentiles.  For every generation of disciples has been led to more truth: whether in the Fourth Century about the divinity of Christ and the Holy Spirit; the Eighth Century concerning the use of icons; the Eleventh about the Eucharistic presence; the Sixteenth Century over the number of the sacraments, the canon of Scripture and the challenges of the Reformers; the Nineteenth when the Church’s social teaching began its long course of development; the Twentieth Century when an ecumenical council charted new directions for the barque of Peter in surprising waters whose depths we have hardly begun to fathom, and now in the Twenty-first Century when a successor of Peter challenges entrenched attitudes and behaviors on almost a daily basis.


            All these things, however, have been disputed at one time or another, but the Spirit who guides the Church led, and leads, the disciples to see clearly things some could not always bear.  And who knows how many more things there toward which the Spirit of truth has yet to lead us?


            Which is why, whenever the Spirit comes, as on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples must be ready to speak new tongues as the Spirit gives them ability (cf. I).  Ready to let every person hear the good news in his or her own language.  Ready to listen for the Spirit leading us to more truth.  And ready to assist in the task of interpreting foreign languages all may not under­stand or want to learn.


            For even on Pentecost, when those gathered in Jerusalem from around the world heard the apostles preach in their native language, some who listened were astounded and bewildered, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?.’ While others scoffing, [said] ‘They have had too much new wine’ (cf. Acts 2:11-13).


            Which, of course, was the truth.  They had been drinking new wine: the new wine of God’s reign which, perforce, bursts asunder old wine skins.  And the more you drink of this wine, the drunker you’ll appear to those who prefer the sober ways of the past.


            Still, it is Jesus who offers this wine prefigured in the cup we bless today: the fruit of the vine he waits to drink with us when the kingdom of God comes in its fullness (cf. Lk. 22:18).  Where he lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.

 Nicene Creed

Intercessions (Peter Scagnelli; Prayers for Sundays and Seasons)

On the last of the great Fifty Days of Easter, let us pray to God who searches the heart, knowing that the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to God’s will.

That the church may gather into unity at the table of the Lord people of every race and language and way of life.

That God’s Spirit may bestow on old and young alike dreams of peace and visions of justice.

That God’s Spirit may breathe the new life of hope into those deprived of freedom, devastated by hunger or denied their human dignity.

That those baptized into the life of the covenant may persevere as members of God’s priestly people and holy nation.

That those who labor on behalf of the physically or mentally handicapped may see their efforts as part of the birth pangs of the Spirit’s new creation.

That those who gather today for the culmination of the paschal feast may drink deeply the living water of God’s Spirit and bear faithful witness.

That those who went to their graves believing in Christ’s resurrection may be raised by the power of God’s Spirit to the joy of eternal life.

God of majesty and glory, you have brought us to the day that crowns our joyful Easter feast. Open for us the fountain of living waters promised to the faithful,  that the outpouring of the Spirit  may reveal Christ’s glory and enlighten all who wait in hope f or the glorious day of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Interlude (William Harris)


Behold, the tabernacle of God is with you,
and the Spirit God dwelleth within you.
For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
For the love of whom ye do this day celebrate the joys of the temple
with a season of festivity. Alleluia.

Lord’s Prayer

In the Spirit of adoption, we pray as Jesus taught us….

Spiritual Communion

Lord Jesus Christ, you remain present to us through the gift of the Spirit and the Eucharist.  While we cannot receive you today in the Sacrament be with us spiritually by the indwelling Paraclete whom the Father poured forth this day in fulfillment of your promise to be with us until you come again in glory.



Closing Hymn (Charles Wesley)


O thou who camest from above
the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
on the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
to work and speak and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire
and still stir up the gift in me.

Still let me prove thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make the sacrifice complete.