Saturday, May 22, 2010


“The Pentecost”
by El Greco,

Extended Vigil - For the Extended Vigil Psalms are added between each of the optional readings.  The red links lead to the text, response, and commentary for these options.

These readings are used at Saturday Evening Mass celebrated either before or after Evening Prayer I of Pentecost Sunday.

Catechism Links [*]
CCC 696, 726, 731-732, 737-741, 830, 1076, 1287, 2623: Pentecost
CCC 599, 597,674, 715: Apostolic witness on Pentecost
CCC 1152, 1226, 1302, 1556: The mystery of Pentecost continues in the Church
CCC 767, 775, 798, 796, 813, 1097, 1108-1109: The Church, communion in the Spirit

Readings Pentecost Sunday at the Vigil Mass [1][2]

Readings from the Jerusalem Bible

Readings and Commentary:

Genesis 11:1-9

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.
While the people were migrating in the east,
they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.
They said to one another,
"Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire."
They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city
and a tower with its top in the sky,
and so make a name for ourselves;
otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth."

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower
that the people had built.
Then the LORD said: "If now, while they are one people,
all speaking the same language,
they have started to do this,
nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume
to do.
Let us then go down there and confuse their language,
so that one will not understand what another says."
Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth,
and they stopped building the city.
That is why it was called Babel,
because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world.
It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.
Commentary on
Gen 11:1-9

The author uses this story as an explanation of how there came to be multiple languages used around the world. It is coupled with the moral lesson to illustrate how pride in one’s own strength is punished by God. In the story of the Tower of Babel, based upon the temple towers or ziggurats of Babylonia, the author describes the increasing wickedness of the people as they thought they could accomplish anything they wanted without God’s help.

CCC: Gen 11:4-6 57
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33:10-11, 12-13, 14-15

Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20b

Moses went up the mountain to God.
Then the LORD called to him and said,
"Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob;
tell the Israelites:
You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians
and how I bore you up on eagle wings
and brought you here to myself.
Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant,
you shall be my special possession,
dearer to me than all other people,
though all the earth is mine.
You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
That is what you must tell the Israelites."
So Moses went and summoned the elders of the people.
When he set before them
all that the LORD had ordered him to tell them,
the people all answered together,
"Everything the LORD has said, we will do."

On the morning of the third day
there were peals of thunder and lightning,
and a heavy cloud over the mountain,
and a very loud trumpet blast,
so that all the people in the camp trembled.
But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God,
and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain.
Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke,
for the LORD came down upon it in fire
The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace,
and the whole mountain trembled violently.
The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was
and God answering him with thunder.

When the LORD came down to the top of Mount Sinai,
he summoned Moses to the top of the mountain.
Commentary on
Ex 19:3-8a, 16-20b

This passage marks the opening verses of God’s covenant with Israel following the flight from Egypt. Through Moses, God makes a divine offer (“…if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession”). The offer includes the entire people of Israel, consecrated to God a “kingdom of priests”. When Christ was rejected by the Jewish leadership, the promise fell to the faithful Christians, a priestly people, guided liturgically by priests of the Aaronic tradition (like Melchizedek of old).

Again the image of heavenly power is expressed in lightning and thunder, fire and smoke and Moses is summoned to the “high place” of Mount Sinai, a clear sign to the people that he goes to be in the presence of God. This episode establishes Moses as God’s emissary.

CCC: Ex 19 751, 2060; Ex 19:5-6 709, 762, 2810; Ex 19:6 63, 1539; Ex 19:16-25 2085
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the LORD came upon me,
and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD
and set me in the center of the plain,
which was now filled with bones.
He made me walk among the bones in every direction
so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain.
How dry they were!
He asked me:
Son of man, can these bones come to life?
I answered, "Lord GOD, you alone know that."
Then he said to me:
Prophesy over these bones, and say to them:
Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones:
See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.
I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you,
cover you with skin, and put spirit in you
so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD.
I, Ezekiel, prophesied as I had been told,
and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise;
it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone.
I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them,
and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.
Then the LORD said to me:
Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man,
and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD:
From the four winds come, O spirit,
and breathe into these slam that they may come to life.
I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them;
they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.
Then he said to me:
Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.
They have been saying,
"Our bones are dried up,
our hope is lost, and we are cut off."
Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, 1 will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD
Commentary on
Ez 37:1-14

The prophet is in Babylon and has the mystical experience of being led into the desert among bones (possibly those who died in battle). Rather than speaking of “the Resurrection” he is speaking of the restoration of Israel. His prophesying is intended to put a new spirit into the exiles that they might have hope in the Lord. From the perspective of the Christian, the reference is to the resurrection promised by Christ and the spirit breathed into the flesh seems obviously the Holy Spirit.

CCC: Ez 37:1-14 715; Ez 37:10 703
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 107:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Joel 3:1-5

Thus says the LORD:
I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.
Your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
your young men shall see visions;
even upon the servants and the handmaids,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
And I will work wonders in the heavens and on the earth,
blood, fire, and columns of smoke;
the sun will be turned to darkness,
and the moon to blood,
at the coming of the day of the LORD,
the great and terrible day.
Then everyone shall be rescued
who calls on the name of the LORD;
for on Mount Zion there shall be a remnant,
as the LORD has said,
and in Jerusalem survivors
whom the LORD shall call.
Commentary on
Jl 3:1-5

The Prophet Joel sees the coming “Day of the Lord” in his oracle. In his opening statement “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh”, he foresees the Holy Spirit’s outpouring in concert with Isaiah (
Isaiah 32:15), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 11:19), and Zechariah (Zechariah 12:10). This outpouring will wash away all weakness (note: the word “flesh” is used to describe human weakness: see Genesis 6:3; Psalm 78:39; Sirach 14: 17-18; Mark 14:38; and Romans 7:18).

In the prophet’s day, the sun and moon were often worshiped as gods. Joel envisions that the coming of the Lord will overshadow these false gods and those who were cast out of Jerusalem in the Exile (“a remnant” and “survivors”) will see God as a beacon, and return.

CCC: Jl 3-4 678; Jl 3:1-5 715; Jl 3:1-2 1287
Psalm 104:1-2, 24, 35, 27-28, 29, 30

R. (cf. 30) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the
R. Alleluia.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.

How manifold are your works, O LORD!
In wisdom you have wrought them all-
the earth is full of your creatures;
bless the LORD, O my soul! Alleluia.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.

Creatures all look to you
to give them food in due time.
When you give it to them, they gather it;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.

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.
R. Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.
R. Alleluia.
Commentary on
Ps 104:1-2, 24, 35, 27-28, 29, 30

Psalm 104 is a psalm of thanks and praise. It recalls the Genesis accounts and praises God for his creation. In this song reference is also made of the creation of life from dust and the ultimate return of the body to dust. The spirit of God gives life and renews his creation constantly, like rain upon the fields.

CCC: Ps 104 288; Ps 104:24 295; Ps104:30 292, 703
Romans 8:22-27

Brothers and sisters:
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees is not hope.
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.
Commentary on
Rom 8:22-27

In this passage, St. Paul builds upon the theme that Christian life is lived in the spirit and is destined for the glory of God. Through the Spirit, the Christian becomes a “Child of God.” The imagery portrays the Christian adoption in the Spirit as the “firstfruits”; the gift of the first return from the harvest of God that blesses the entire harvest. In the spirit, hope manifests itself, not in the present world, but in the eternal life to come, which is awaited with patient endurance of the material.

As the Christian struggles to be reborn in the Spirit, again using the imagery of a woman in labor “groaning” in her labor, the Spirit given facilitates a transformation or rebirth. The weakness becomes strength in the spirit and the person transformed into an object of God’s will.

CCC: Rom 8:22 2630; Rom 8:23-24 2630; Rom 8:23 735; Rom 8:26-39 2739; Rom 8:26-27 2634; Rom 8:26 741, 2559, 2630, 2736; Rom 8:27 2543, 2736, 2766
John 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the feast,
Jesus stood up and exclaimed,
"Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.
As Scripture says:
Rivers of living water will flow from within him who
believes in me."

He said this in reference to the Spirit
that those who came to believe in him were to receive.
There was, of course, no Spirit yet,
because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Commentary on Jn 7:37-39

“On each of the eight days of the feast of Tabernacles the high priest went to the pool of Siloam and used a golden cup to bring water to the temple and sprinkle it on the altar, in remembrance of the water which sprang up miraculously in the desert, asking God to send rain in plenty (cf.
Exodus 17:1-7). Meanwhile, a passage from the prophet Isaiah was chanted (cf. Isaiah 12:3) which told of the coming of the Savior and of the outpouring of heavenly gifts that would accompany him; Ezekiel 47 was also read, in which it spoke of the torrents of water which would pour out of the temple. Jesus, who would have been at this ceremony, now proclaims - in the presence of a huge crowd, undoubtedly, because it was the most solemn day of the festival- that that time has come: "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink ...” This invitation recalls the words of divine wisdom: "Come to me, you who desire me, and eat your fill" (Sirach 24:19; cf. Proverbs 9:4-5). Our Lord presents himself as him who can fill man's heart and bring him peace (cf. also Matthew 11:28). In this connection St Augustine exclaims: "You made us for yourself. Lord, and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you" (Confessions, 1, 1, 1).”[4]

Jesus scriptural reference is probably to
Ezekiel 36:25ff providing a strong the theological link between the initial gift of the Holy Spirit (“I will put my spirit within you “) and baptism (“I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities “). This symbolic action of washing, a Hebrew ritual, becomes an efficacious sign of grace when coupled with God’s presence in the Holy Spirit.

CCC: Jn 7:37-39 728, 1287, 2561; Jn 7:38-39 1999; Jn 7:38 694; Jn 7:39 244, 690

As so often happens when we begin to reflect upon some spiritual subject and begin to ask the deep and difficult questions, we discover that an ancient Saint has asked the same questions and has answered profoundly. Such is the case with the question we must ask at Pentecost. How does the Holy Spirit affect us? Not just as individuals, but as Church? Rather than a deacon’s ruminations we offer you the words of a Saint:

“When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.

"He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God's creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father's will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.

"Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord's ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the firstfruits of all the nations.

"This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.

"The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.

"If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an Advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.”

From the Treatise Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus, Bishop
(Lib.3, 17, 1-3:SC 34, 302-306)


[*] Catechism links are taken from the Homiletic Directory, Published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014
[1] S.S. Commemoratio
[2] The picture is “The Pentecost” by El Greco, 1596-1600
The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.
The Navarre Bible, Gospels and Acts, Scepter Publishers, Princeton, NJ, © 2002, p. 604
[5] Catholic Book Publishing Corp., New York, 1976, Copyright © 1970, 1973, 1975, International Committee on English in Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. III, p. 1025

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