What Happened at Pentecost

     The account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, which we heard in the first reading, is set against a background that contains one of the last great frescoes of the Old Testament: the ancient story of the construction of the Tower of Babel. But what is Babel? It is the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to understand one another and to work together.
     This biblical story contains an eternal truth: we see this truth throughout history and in our own time as well. Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want. We don't realise we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even less? Doesn't it seem like feelings of mistrust, suspicion and mutual fear have insinuated themselves into human relationships to the point where one person can even pose a threat to another? Let's go back to the initial question: can unity and harmony really exist?   How?  The answer lies in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. On that morning, fifty days after Easter, a powerful wind blew over Jerusalem and the flame of the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples. It came to rest upon the head of each of them and ignited in them a divine fire, a fire of love, capable of transforming things. Their fear disappeared, their hearts were filled with new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak freely, in such a way that everyone could understand the news that Jesus Christ had died and was risen. On Pentecost, where there was division and incomprehension, unity and understanding were born.   ~ From the Homily for Pentecost 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI


ON THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST
 

   Today the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is being celebrated, 40 days after Easter. The Acts of the Apostles recounts this episode, Jesus’ final departure from his disciples and from this world. Matthew’s Gospel, on the other hand, reports Jesus’ mandate to his disciples: the invitation to go, to leave and announce his message of salvation to all peoples. “Go,” or better “leave” becomes the key word for today’s feast: Jesus leaves to go to the Father and commands his disciples to leave to go out to the world.
     Jesus leaves, he ascends into heaven, that is, he returns to the Father from whom he had been sent into the world. He has completed his work, so he returns to the Father. But this is not a separation because he remains with us forever under a new form. With his ascension the risen Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles – and our gaze – to the heights of heaven to show us that the Father is the goal of our journey. He himself said that he would be leaving to prepare a place for us in heaven. Nevertheless, Jesus remains present and active in the vicissitudes of human history with the power and the gifts of his Spirit. He is near to each one of us, even if we do not see him with our eyes. He is there! He accompanies us, he leads us, he takes us by the hand and lifts us up when we have fallen. The risen Jesus is near to Christians who are persecuted and discriminated against. He is near to every man and woman who suffers. He is near to all of us, even today here is here with us. 
     But Jesus is also present through the Church, which he sent to extend his mission. Jesus’ last word to his disciples is the command to leave: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations”. It is a precise mandate, it is not optional! The Christian community is a community that is “going out,” “departing.” Even more, the Church is born in “going out.” And you will say to me: But what about the cloistered communities? Yes, they too because they are always “going out” with prayer, with their heart open to the world, to the horizons of God. And the elderly and sick? They too, with prayer and union with the wounds of Jesus.
     To his missionary disciples Jesus says: “I am with you always even to the end of the world”. By themselves, without Jesus, we cannot do anything! In the apostolate our own strength, our own resources, our own structures, even if they are necessary, are not enough. Without the presence of the Lord and the power of his Spirit, our work, even if it is well-organized, is ineffective.
     And thus we go out to people to tell them who Jesus is.

                        ~ From Homily of Pope Francis June 01, 2014

ORDINATIONS TO THE PRIESTHOOD

Candidates for priesthood
Reverand Ricardo Davis and Reverand David Twaddle 
   On Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 10:00 AM. His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins will be ordaining Reverand Ricardo Davis and Reverand David Twaddle to the Priesthood at St. Michael’s Cathedral. Please keep these men in your prayers as they begin their great journey of serving the people of God in the Archdiocese of Toronto.