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Schemas for Pentecost

{ Tags: , \ May12 }

Here are the schemas1 I used for the homilies I preached for Pentecost Sunday:

Pentecost Overcoming Babel and Sin

The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples making them the first members of the Church, the Body of Christ. The first effect of the coming of the Holy Spirit was to undo the divisions brought about by Babel. From now on, the diversity of languages is overcome by the one proclamation of the Gospel. It is the Gospel that will bring all people to the unity of the Body of Christ. One of the implications of this effect is that the Church is intended to be catholic. It has members having different languages and yet having one faith.

After Adam and Eve disobeyed by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil , they were alienated from themselves, from each other and from God. This situation of alienation escalated into hate: their son Cain killed his brother Abel because of jealousy. The separation of peoples was due to pride: they wanted to make a Name for themselves (The Jews called God “The Name”). With the coming of the Holy Spirit, not only Babel’s division was overcome. Since within the Church, the guiding norm is Love, and it is the place for the cultivation of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, there is no room for one who kills another (cf. Galatians 5:22-23; CCC par. 1832). And since there is no room for hate, envy or jealousy, then one is provided with an environment where one can be at home with oneself, with others and with God.

The Seven-Fold Gifts of the Spirit and the Three-Fold Office of Christ

The classical passage for the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit is Isaiah 11:2-3. Augustine used it as a schema (in the sense I am using the word here) linking the gifts to the beatitudes and to the petitions of the Our Father (See his “Sermo Domini in Monte”). I tried using it for the first time as the gifts given for the fulfillment of the three-fold office of Christ. The Catechism of the Church explains that the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit were given to Christ fully in his anointing as Christ. The baptized, an “alter Christus” and a sharer in the three-fold office of Christ receive these gifts as the perfection of the corresponding virtues that he/she already has (CCC, 1831). If I understand the verbs used in the par. 1831 correctly — “perfect and complete” — the passage means that if one already has the virtue of reverential fear (the fear of offending one’s parents) or fortitude (firmness in conviction and principle), the gifts of “reverential fear” and “fortitude” raise these human virtues to the level of Christ-likeness empowering the baptized to perform his three-fold task as priest, prophet and king.


1. A “schema” is a label I use for the mental diagrams I employ in lectures and homilies. I have several of these, most of which I have been developing since the time I started giving recollections. Examples are the eye/ear-heart-hand(foot) metaphor and old-man/new-man. They are mental diagrams which I keep in my head during delivery for the sake of organization.

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