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Today is Pentecost: the 50th day after Easter, a Christian feast day which springs originally from a Jewish Holy Day “Shavuot” called the Feast of Weeks. It was the day of celebrating the gift of God’s Word (the Torah/10 commandments) given to Moses 49 days after the Exodus. The reaping of God’s Word is the harvest presence of God in the midst of the people. Pentecost for us, is the birth of the Church, which we read about in our selection from the book that tells the unfolding story of the emerging Church: the Acts of the Apostles. Earlier in the gospels stories, in particular John, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as a gift, a gentle exhale of Jesus promising to accompany, empower and encourage his followers. Here the Spirit erupts loudly onto the scene as a violent, noisy wind, arriving like tongues of fire, come not to destroy but to create: new connections and communication through miraculous and previously impossible speaking and hearing of foreign languages. It’s the dawning of a new day and a new universe. We as the Church are called to this newness and openness to the disturbing, and sometimes violent, gentle prodding and presence of God’s Spirit among and upon us.
We also finish our reading of Galatians, a pastoral letter which “at several times in history, has shifted the direction of the age just enough to make the difference between a surge of new life and a drifting into decline.” It radically transformed the direction in which the Church developed in its infancy (as we read recently in Acts 15). It also was paramount in shifting the perspective of both Martin Luther and John Calvin, setting loose the revolution we now call the Reformation. What might it be unleashing among us in our world and culture today in which how we are defined and what is considered our usefulness or power is defined by what we purchase, how much we can produce, or who our people are?
When Galatians 4 beings, Paul is making a contrast between children and grownups. A child may be an heir, but until that child comes of age, the inheritance may as well belong to someone else. “Guardians and trustees” are responsible both for the inheritance and the heir. The main point of the analogy is the contrast between “before” and “after.” Before the inheriting child comes of age, an heir is indistinguishable from anyone else. After the child comes of age, they own and control all the property. This difference between “before” and “after” is dramatic. Similarly dramatic is the difference between the Galatians’ identity before God sent the Spirit of the Son into their hearts, and after.
Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation
Download a PDF Text Study Aid [HERE].
I borrowed freely from the following post in my writing. It’s a great read.
The image is taken from https://www.facebook.com/pg/HaikuPrayers/posts/