By Xandria Eykel
Pentecost: Celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit, which fulfilled Jesus’ promise to send to His disciples a helper, an advocate, who would enable them to be His witnesses throughout the world.
Date: June 5, 2022. It is a moveable date because it is based on 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Easter).
The Memorial Day holiday marks the awakening of our neighborhoods with the smell of freshly-cut grass and the melodious laughter of children outdoors at play. The rhythm of our lives shifts as we launch into summer. In the liturgical (or church) calendar, it, too, has its rhythm. That rhythm follows the life of Jesus Christ. In a few days, the Catholic (universal) Church will celebrate Pentecost: the birthday of all Christians throughout the ages.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit unleashed the gospel in all its power, in all its glory, in all its kindness, in all its charity, in all its compassion, and in all its goodness through the disciples in whom the Spirit dwelt. The Holy Spirit continued the work of Jesus in the hearts of all the disciples and taught them everything, reminding them of all that Jesus told them amid their fear of persecution. The same Holy Spirit that blazed through the hearts of Jesus’ disciples 2,000 years ago makes His home in the hearts of all the faithful today, empowering us to continue His work of bringing His love, His Spirit, and His peace to those in our midst.
Christians celebrate the Feast of Pentecost first and foremost in worship or in the Eucharistic Mass, the liturgical gathering of worship. Most Christian churches use red linens and vestments to symbolize the blazing flames of the Holy Spirit, reminding the faithful of the burning fire of God’s love and dynamic power that makes its dwelling in their hearts. In the Catholic tradition, the scripture readings are usually from the Acts of the Apostles, Psalm 104, 1 Corinthians, and the Gospel of John. Contemplating God’s passionate love for us in these scriptural readings reminds the faithful that we, too, have been endowed with the gifts of the same Spirit and are called to continue His work of healing, forgiving, and witnessing His love.
Realizing the magnitude of Pentecost is best understood in light of the events that led up to it. On Pentecost, the seven weeks of Easter end, and it marks the fulfillment of Jesus’ Passover in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon His disciples.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent considerable time with His disciples forming, instructing, and preparing them to continue the work that He had begun. “He said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And He said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And [behold] I am sending the promise of My Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49).
The disciples remained faithful to their Jewish roots, including observing the Mosaic laws, such as making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year (DT 16:16-17). The disciples were in Jerusalem in accordance with their Jewish faith to commemorate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai (Shavuot or Feast of Weeks or Pentecost). They were all gathered in the upper room, hiding for fear of persecution. But they remained united and prayed together, waiting as Jesus instructed them to do. “2 And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. 3 Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:1-4)
Imbued with the Holy Spirit, they came out of hiding and ran out into the streets proclaiming the mighty acts of God. The Acts of the Apostles chronicles the many signs and wonders that were done through the hands of the apostles in the Name of Jesus. For all Christians, we have access to that same Spirit to bring Jesus’ love, His Spirit, and His peace to all the situations and people in our daily lives. On this Pentecost, contemplate Acts 29 as you pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!” Let’s all be a part of writing chapter 29 in the ongoing story of Jesus loving the world through us. Happy Birthday!