St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

Pentecost C22

On Pentecost we as Catholic Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and the others gathered in one room all together. The Spirit came in a sound like rushing wind and tongues as of fire which parted and came to rest on each of them. Two words, like and as, describe a mysterious event that gave the recipients courage to begin to fulfill their mission of preaching and baptizing and the eloquence that enabled  all who heard them speak understood them in their own language, devout Jews or converts to Judaism who were Parthians Medes and Elamites (all Iranians), Mesopotamians (Iraqis), Cappadocian and people from Pontus, Pamphylia and Phrygia (varieties of Turkish people), Asians, Egyptians and the districts of Libya near Cyrene (Africans), pilgrims from Rome, from the island of Crete as well as Arabs; in other words, the whole known world[1]

What were they doing there to witness this miraculous event that caused 3,000 to be baptized?

They came to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the three major pilgrim festivals, Shavout[2], the Jewish Pentecost, 50 days after the beginning of Passover, which commemorates the giving of the Torah (Pentateuch) to Moses at Mount Sinai. It also marks the Harvest Festival in which people offer the first fruits of their harvest to the Temple to thank God for his providing their crops.

The story continues in the following verses not read today: some of those who heard thought the disciples were a bit tipsy from drinking new wine, but Peter said they were not drunk because it was only 9 am and the celebration had just begun. He then preached to them, using the prophet Joel to explain the disciples’ apparent giddiness, and to talk to them about Jesus who was a man mighty in words and deeds whom they crucified and was raised up by God and exalted at the right hand of God.[3]

Now I and you don’t speak languages we never learned, but the Church does through her missionaries and native priests and catechists in other countries as well as priests and catechists who minister to ethic and English-speaking parishes in our own.

Here’s fact that most of us will be surprised at. Do you know that the United States of America was considered a mission country until @ 1950 when we finally had enough native born priests to staff our parishes?  Before that priests came from Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and other countries as missionaries! Now we have reverted to being a mission territory as the largest number of native born priests between @ 1950 to @ 1975 have either left the ministry, died or retired. Where are the missionaries of today from? Africa, India, South America, a few from Poland whose speech we native born Catholic Americans have trouble understanding. And we are recruiting them shamelessly, depriving their own people of their talents.

As I get closer to retirement, the joke that Msgr. Bob O’Grady (retired) and I shared many years ago is becoming a reality when we said, “I’ll take the Farmington Valley and you can have east of the CT River.”

Unless the Holy Spirit performs another language miracle or inspires some changes in the priesthood, we have to pray for and recruit vocations, especially for the priesthood as it legislated today, from your sons, grandsons, and great grandsons.  Like money, vocations don’t grow on trees. Nor did they drop from heaven. They must be sought, encouraged, and supported.

It is our responsibility, each of us, especially in families. Plant the seed, encourage, and support. Who knows?

We once more can be a non-mission country.


[1] The beginning of the fulfilling the command “to make disciples of the whole world”.

[2] Sha-ῡʹ-ought

[3] Read Acts 2:14-47.

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