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Receive the Holy Spirit | Breaking Open the Word at Home

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In the readings for Pentecost Sunday, May 20, we celebrate the moment that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit through Jesus.


by Jen Schlameuss-Perry



Acts 2:1-11
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.


Psalm 104
Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.


1 Corinthians 12:3B-7, 12-13
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.


John 20:19-23
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”


You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:

Scriptures for Pentecost Sunday, Cycle B



It’s Pentecost—the birthday of the Church! We say this because it’s the day that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and finally were emboldened to live the mission that Jesus had given them. It’s also Babel undone—where we put up barriers of communication through our sin, Jesus removes those barriers through his sacrifice. We are a Church of mission and a people of hope. It belongs to each of us that we should share the Gospel in every language for every hearer—so what does that mean? Preach the Gospel in the language of children, of the aged, the homebound, the struggling family, the widow, the newlyweds, the divorced, the abused, the addicted, your co-workers, your teammates, the poor, your friends, the disenfranchised. You have been given a unique language that no one else can speak—the language of your experience, your grief, your success, your insecurity, your parenthood, your creativity, your art, your music, your writing.

We have “different gifts, but the same Spirit.” And we are called to bring that spirit of unity, of belonging, of being loved and cherished to people who feel alone and unloved. You don’t have to look very far to find someone like that. Our world is broken and hurting and needs Good News. Our world is angry and needs reconciliation that only a relationship with God in a loving community can bring. Each of us has a language in which to speak it to bring healing, and each of us has people who only we can reach. We have received the same Spirit, and we are emboldened to live that same mission that the Apostles were given. Jesus gifted us the peace we need and the courage; and as the Father sent him, so he sends us. You are chosen. Be bold.



What do you think is the best way to celebrate the birthday of the Church?



What “language,” or gift, has God given me to use to help others? Who do I know who is in need of those particular gifts?



How do I experience God’s peace so that I can share it with others? How am I an agent for reconciliation?


Bonus Question

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Awe and Wonder. Tell one another which gifts you see in each other. Then have cake. It’s the Church’s birthday for goodness sake.


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 Jen Schlameuss-Perry:

Pastoral Associate

Jen is a massive fan of all things Sci-fi, Superheroes and Cartoons. These things, more than any other, occupy her mind & keyboard as she ponders them through the lens of her Catholic Faith. Jen is a Pastoral Associate for a Catholic Church, a wife, and mother of two boys.

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