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Happy Birthday | Breaking Open the Word at Home

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Reading Time: 4 minutes



Pentecost is the day the Spirit came and often called the Birthday of the Church. It’s when the Apostles finally received what they needed to complete the mission that Jesus prepared them for.

by Jen Schlameuss-Perry

The first reading tells the story of the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit which brought with it the gifts that they would all need to spread the Gospel to the whole world—even though it meant that they would be persecuted and killed for it.  Before that, they wouldn’t even leave the upper room. The Spirit showed itself as a “driving wind” and “tongues of fire”—both natural elements, both expressions that God has used in the past (the breath of God in the old testament and the burning bush when God introduced himself to Moses). Just like we’ve been reading in weeks past, God meets us in ways that are comfortable for us.

The second reading breaks open the first, but showing us that, while everyone receives the same Spirit of God, it comes to us in different ways. We aren’t all meant to be copies of one another—we are supposed to be the unique individual that God made each of us to be. Each of us has something special to share that no one else can offer the way we can. It also tells us that God loves each person, and gives himself to each person equally—no favorites with God! God doesn’t value one person’s gifts over another.

Whereas the first reading tells us the effect of the Spirit coming, the Gospel shares the how.  Jesus showed up in the locked room where the Apostles were hiding, offered them his peace, breathed on them to give them the Holy Spirit (there’s that “breath of God” again!), and told them what their job was. In this Gospel, their job is to offer reconciliation between God and people through the forgiveness of sins (Confession). Their job in proclaiming the Gospel was meant to be, as Paul calls it, “a ministry of reconciliation.”

You can read this Sunday’s readings here:

Scriptures for Pentecost Sunday, Cycle C


Break Open the Word with Your Family


How do you think the Church should celebrate the Church’s birthday? What would you like to do to celebrate it?


When you think of great and inspiring people, do you think, “I could never do that” or “I could never be as good as that”? We all do. But, it’s important to remember that we’re not supposed to be like anyone else. God doesn’t love great Saints more than God loves us, and doesn’t place a higher value on what they did than what we are able to do. What unique gift do you have to offer the world?


The Apostles were afraid to do what they were called to until they received Jesus’ peace and his Spirit. What peace do you need, and what gift of God’s Spirit, in order to accomplish what you are called to do?

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.”


Follow Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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