Posted by: fvbcdm | February 6, 2012

Feast of Saint Paul Miki & Companions (6 Feb 2012)

It’s interesting how the least consideration can lead to a fruitful meditation.  Over the weekend, a friend of mine now living out of state sent me a question: he wanted to know why the edition of the New Testament that he uses differs slightly from other translations, and says that Our Lady, the Apostles and a large number of the disciples HAD GATHERED in the upper room in Jerusalem.  He was concerned about the tense of the verb, “had gathered.”  Another translation simply says “they were all in one place.”  I had never thought about this slight discrepancy before, but his question set me to thinking about it.  I wrote him, talking about the pluperfect tense of the verb, as it is called.  


There are two groups of people in this event.  Those who HAD GATHERED in the upper room, waiting for the coming of the Spirit, as Jesus had instructed them to do, and then the much larger crowd outside in the street who were attracted by the strong wind shaking that particular building, and perhaps the sight of tongues of flame falling from heaven into the house and upon the group inside.  Those inside believed that something was going to happen because Our Lord had told them that it would.  So they HAD GATHERED to await the event.  Those outside were simply passersby in the crowded streets of that part of the city and stopped to gather around the building when it seemed to be attacked by wind and fire.  The faithful inside received the Holy Spirit in a very powerful way.  The curious outside were given the great grace of a sermon by Saint Peter who came outside and began to speak to them in Aramaic, the language native to Jesus and the apostles.  And yet, all the foreign Jewish pilgrims who had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the great Passover, heard Saint Peter speaking as if in their own language, and understood him perfectly.  This was the true gift of tongues.  


So the group inside had gathered beforehand to welcome the Paraclete; the group outside gathered to see what was going on in that building, and stayed to listen to Saint Peter. They listened; they believed; they joined the group of those inside, and that very day about three thousand persons were added to the group of the disciples of Our Lord.  This is why we speak of Pentecost as the Birthday of the Church.   And now we have this remarkably large group of people, some of whom received the Spirit inside the house, and the others who received Him through the preaching of Saint Peter outside.  Those inside were expecting this great event; those outside were not.  But they all received the Paraclete, and from that day until now and on until the end of time, the Holy Spirit has continued and will continue to add believers to the Church which is the Mystical Body of Christ. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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