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Receive the Holy Spirit | Breaking Open the Word at Home

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Pentecost is finally here! This is the day the disciples who were gathered together in the Upper Room received the Holy Spirit and were finally made ready to accept and live out the Mission of Christ: to go and make disciples of of all nations. Now, it’s our mission, too.


by Jen Schlameuss-Perry



Acts 2:1-11
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

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

1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.

John 20:19-23
“Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

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

Scriptures for Pentecost Sunday, Cycle A



Today is the day that we celebrate the reception of the Holy Spirit in the Christian community. And what does the Holy Spirit do? It brings understanding, knowledge, wisdom, counsel, fortitude, piety and wonder and awe. All of these are clearly present in today’s first reading. The Holy Spirit also repairs what was broken–and this is present in all the readings. When the Apostles went out to preach people from every nation were listening to them and hearing them in their own language–it’s Babel undone. It’s the confusion and lack of communication that humanity caused removed–like John the Baptist said when Jesus was getting ready to begin his public ministry, “make straight the paths”. This is what God does for us. When we’re ready to participate in God’s plan for us, obstacles are removed–even language barriers.

The second reading reminds us that we’re each given gifts to accomplish the mission. These gifts make us different, but united in the Spirit. God’s grace doesn’t make us uniform, but gives each of us what’s needed to reach every person in every nation in the world.

In the Gospel, Jesus appears to his friends in the Upper Room and offers them peace, as God and God’s messengers always do. He sent them–the meaning of the word “apostles” is “to be sent”–to make disciples, and to repair broken relationships. It’s clear as day–they are to hear people’s confessions, and whoever they forgive will be forgiven. This is God’s plan for us–to be forgiven and healed, and to help others find forgiveness, too. Being forgiven breaks down the barrier that sin puts between us and God, and us and one another. That’s what the Holy Spirit does–it brings wholeness, unity and makes a path for God’s grace to reach everyone.



It’s the Church’s birthday! Make a card for your Church–either your parish family, or the family you live with (who is a little church). What else can you do to celebrate the Church’s birthday?



What barriers to the world having true peace do you see? What do you think needs to happen in order for us to hear one another clearly and understand one another? How can you be a peacemaker in our volatile world?



How does confession/reconciliation (with God, yourself, and one another) make you more free to share the Gospel with the world? How does knowing that you’re forgiven by God, and that others are forgiven by God help you to build up a culture of peace in your family and your community?


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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