The Christian Pentecost: Pentecost marks the end and the goal of the Easter season. For Christians, it is a memorial of the day the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and the Virgin Mary in the form of fiery tongues, an event that took place fifty days after Easter. The Jewish Pentecost: Both the Jews and the Christians now celebrate Pentecost. Along with the Feast of the Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacles,
Pentecost was one of the major feasts of the Jews. During these three great Jewish festivals, every male Jew living with in twenty miles of Jerusalem was legally bound to go to Jerusalem and participate in the feast. The word Pentecost literally means “Fiftieth” because the feast was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of Passover. Another name for the Jewish Pentecost was “The Feast of Weeks.” It was originally a day of thanksgiving for the completion of the harvest. During Passover, the first Omer of barley (a Hebrew measure of about a bushel) was offered to God. At Pentecost, two loaves of bread were offered in gratitude for the harvest. Later, the Jews added the element of Yahweh’s covenant with Noah, which took place fifty days after the great deluge, to the Feast of the Pentecost. Still later, they made this feast an occasion to thank God for His Sinaitic covenant with Moses, which also occurred fifty days after the beginning of the exodus from Egypt. It is the incarnation of the Holy Spirit into the world of men and women. Pentecost also commemorates the official inauguration of the Christian Church through the apostolic preaching of St. Peter, resulting in the conversion of 3000 Jews to the Christian faith. It is thus the official birthday of the Church. This Rock Magazine reports that there are 34,000 Protestant denominations, which means, on average, more than sixty-nine new denominations have sprung up yearly since the Reformation began in 1517. So, whose birthday is it anyway? You could say, “Pentecost is the birthday of the Church Jesus established nearly 2,000 years ago.” Today’s Scripture readings remind us that Pentecost is an event of both the past and the present. The central theme of today’s readings is that the gift of the Holy Spirit is something to be shared with others. In other words, the gift of the Holy Spirit
moves its recipients into action and inspires them to share it with others. The readings also remind us of that.
Torch and Bucket: There is a story of a person who saw an angel walking down the street. The angel was carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. “What are you going to do with that torch and that bucket of water?” the person asked. The angel stopped abruptly, looked at the person, and said, “With the torch, I am going to burn down the mansions of heaven, and with the bucket of water,
I am going to put out the fires of hell. Then we are going to see who really loves God.” The angel’s point is that many people obey God’s commandments out of fear of punishment in hell or hope of reward in heaven. They do not obey him for the reason Jesus gives in today’s gospel. They do not obey them out of love: “If you love me,” Jesus says in today’s reading, “you will obey my commandments.”
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Christian Life:
- As an indwelling God, He makes us His Living Temples (I Cor. 3:16).
- As a strengthening God, He strengthens us in our fight against temptations and in our mission of witnessing to Christ by transparent Christian lives.
- As a sanctifying God, He makes us holy through the sacraments: a) He makes us children of God and heirs of heaven through Baptism; b) He makes us the temple of God and warriors and defenders of faith through Confirmation; c) He enables us to get reconciled to God by pardoning our sins through Reconciliation; and d) He gives us spiritual nourishment via the Holy Eucharist by converting bread and wine into Jesus’ body and blood through Epiclesis.
- As a teaching and guiding God, He clarifies and constantly reminds us of Christ’s teachings.
- As a listening and talking God, He listens to our prayers and enables us to pray. He speaks to us through our conscience.
Life messages. Permit the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives:
- By constantly remembering His holy presence and behaving well.
- By praying for His daily anointing, we may fight against our temptations and control our evil tendencies, habits, and addictions.
- By asking His daily assistance to pray by listening to God through meditative Bible reading and talking to Him.
Love and Peace,