Pentecost Sunday - 20th May, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15 (Read: Gal 5:16-25)

 

‘Live by the Spirit’ – that’s St Paul’s exhortation to the Church in Galatia in the letter he wrote around the year 55AD. That’s about ten years after his first journey to Galatia. A very important part of his good news during that first journey was to tell the Galatians they did not have to become Jews in order to be baptised and live in Christ. No need for circumcision or having to observe all the cultural Jewish laws. The salvation of Jesus’ death and resurrection was a free gift to everyone who would live by the Spirit that Jesus had promised. Moreover, that gift of the Spirit would bring true freedom, to live in love as Christ did.

Some time later some Jewish Christians who were instilled with the Law of Moses, came to the community and, knowing that both Jesus and Paul were Jews, thought they knew better and that Paul’s teaching on that matter could not be true. So they tried to undermine it; hence the letter.

It is noteworthy that in the introduction to the letter Paul describes himself as ‘an apostle appointed not by human beings nor through any human being but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead.’ That’s his authority and that’s definitive enough for me.

 The focus and intention of the part of the epistle we heard today is to instil in the community the truth that living so as to be led by the Spirit will help us to participate in the fruits of that life in the Spirit that Paul mentions. As Jesus says in today’s Gospel: ‘When the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth’. In St Catherine’s Dialogue there is also much to learn about the Truth. For example, we can learn that “all virtues are built on charity for your neighbours. So I have told you, and such is the truth…”1. So, St Paul’s testimony and instruction about the fruits that come from living a life that is led by the Spirit is very important. 


 

What a list! What a feast! Take your pick; what’s your favourite? love? joy? peace? patience? self-control? And that’s not even the half of them.

Enough day-dreaming. This is not just about a letter written two thousand years ago to a community in what is today part of Turkey. The letter is for us today. We are celebrating today the fulfilment of the promise that Jesus gave to his witnesses. And as followers of Jesus we too can be his witnesses and pass on to others the good news that life in the Spirit brings.

Kevin Walker

1. The Dialogue – tr S. Noffke OP : 1980 p35-36