Week After Pentecost

Peace Be With You — Part 3

In the Mass readings for Pentecost, we see the first Christians begin the work of bringing the peace of God's kingdom to the whole earth. The Church presents us with the same Gospel reading as on Divine Mercy Sunday, connecting the Resurrection and the octave of Easter with the sending of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost Sunday:

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit."
— John 20:21-22

The apostles' encounter with the Risen Christ is also an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a missionary sending. They begin to carry out that mission in the first reading, which takes place 50 days later. We see the apostles and other disciples receiving an even greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit that precipitates the first wave of conversions to Christ:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. 
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem... Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.
— Acts 2:4-5, 41

Now that there were Jewish Christians from every part of the known world, the stage was set for the peace of Christ to spread across the earth. In the second reading for Pentecost, St. Paul refers to 
"Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons" all being baptized into Christ and receiving the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). The responsorial psalm exults in the missionary activity of the Holy Spirit with this refrain: "Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth."

This prayer applies to the present and the future, not just the past. The Lord is still sending out his Spirit and renewing the face of the earth. It falls to every generation of Christians—including us!—to accept the Risen Lord's peace, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the mandate to restore all things in Christ.
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.