As we draw ever nearer to the Solemnity of Pentecost, our readings prepare us for the coming of the Spirit. We get a biblical glimpse of Confirmation, are reminded of what our conduct should be as followers of Christ, and are re-affirmed in our keeping of Jesus’ commandments.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
1 Peter 3:15-18
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
This time of year, a lot of parishes celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation; whether it’s for the young men and women who are finishing up their religious education, or adults who have been preparing for it. Today we see a little glimpse into why Confirmation is a separate sacrament from Baptism. It’s the authority of a Bishop that confers the Holy Spirit. When the people of Samaria heard the good news of the Gospel and experienced God’s saving power first hand, they were filled with joy and experienced the unity that comes with our practice of faith. The Holy Spirit makes our joy complete.
The second reading reminds us that, if we want to be good witnesses to the Gospel and Jesus’ teachings, that we have to do it with, “gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear,” because that’s what Jesus was like. If we say we believe in him and have hope in redemption for sinners (like ourselves), then we have to show people the gentleness that Jesus showed, and the reverence to all people as they are temples of the Holy Spirit–even people who challenge or disagree with us.
Living in Jesus’ Spirit means keeping his commandments. That’s how God knows we love him, and that’s how other people will know God’s love–by our goodness, kindness and holiness. Jesus promises us that he will not “leave [us] orphans”, but will send his Spirit to live with us. We’re not alone when we have to do what’s right; God shares his strength with us.
Have you ever seen your Bishop? Do you know his name? Ask your parents to tell you about him–maybe make a card for him for Pentecost.
What do you hope in? What reason do you have for that hope? How do you express your hope to your family and friends?
Can you give an example of a time when you were being treated badly, but kept in God’s presence and responded with gentleness and reverence? What was the outcome? How did you feel when it was over? How does what Jesus went through inspire you to look at people the way God looks at them, rather than the way they present themselves?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”