Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, May 15, 2016

"They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim." – Acts 2:4

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” – Acts 2:4


May 15, Pentecost Sunday

      Cycle C. Readings:

      1) Acts 2:1-11

      Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34

      2) 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Romans 8:8-17

      Gospel: John 20:19-23 or John 14:15-16, 23b-26


By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

My husband and I have enjoyed hosting a small faith-sharing group in our home for the past few years.

Two in this parish-based group are Haitian immigrants. Yves is fluent in English, but his wife Suzanne came to the U.S. more recently and still struggles with the language.

So I was a little surprised that they wanted to participate in the group as it focuses on reading Scripture and involves a lot of discussion. On the other hand, I recognized that taking part in a faith-sharing group simply follows from their commitment to their parish community.

Personally, I love hearing Yves read Scripture because his heavy accent evokes an unusual tone in the text. I also have to listen extra closely. His shared experiences of faith, having grown out of a different culture, greatly enrich the conversation for the rest of us.

At first, I was concerned that Suzanne would feel left out of the discussion that she could barely understand. But as I watched her, I realized that she was fully engaged with us — not in words, but in Christ’s Spirit among our group.

Everyone sensed this, and it came to an almost thundering manifestation — imagine the “noise like a strong driving wind” described in today’s reading from Acts — one evening when we invited Suzanne to offer the closing prayer. The emotion, the confidence of God’s presence and power came pouring out over all of us as she spoke stirringly in her native Creole language.

I heard a few people murmur in reverence as we all, somehow, understood every word.

The passage in Acts describes a moment when Jesus’ disciples experienced a sudden noise as they became filled with his Spirit. They sensed what was happening — it was palpable — as they heard and understood the mighty acts of God spoken in foreign tongues.

In our home, there were no accompanying tongues of fire visible. But it became clear to us, just as it did to those gathered in Jerusalem on that Pentecost when Christ’s church was born, that his Spirit is not limited by language, culture or any human convention.

The diversity of Christ’s Spirit enriches us while the unity of Christ’s Spirit strengthens us as we become one with him and each other.


How have you experienced the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit in your church community? When has the Spirit “spoken” to you in a manner beyond words?

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