Next weekend, as a Church we will celebrate one of the most important feast days of our Church year, the Feast of Pentecost, which marks the end of the Easter season.
It should be noted that Pentecost occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his Ascension into heaven. Therefore, like the Feast of Easter which has no fixed date, Pentecost depends on the timing of Easter, which means that the Feast of Pentecost could fall anywhere between May 10th and June 13th.
What is of significance is the Feast of Pentecost is a parallel to the Jewish holiday of Shavu’ot, which falls 50 days after Passover. Shavu’ot is sometimes called the festival of weeks, referring to the seven weeks since Passover.
In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered in the Upper Room. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read about a “strong, driving wind” that filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, allowing them to speak in different languages so that they could understand each other. This was such a strange phenomenon that many people who had gathered thought these Christians were just drunk. However, Peter pointed out that it was only the morning, and said that this event was caused by the Holy Spirit.
It is the coming of the Holy Spirit that provided the apostles and others with the gifts and the fruits of the Spirit, that was necessary for them to fulfill the great commission, “to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations.”
Furthermore, it was right after Pentecost that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, preached his first homily to Jews and other non-believers, in which he opened the scriptures of the Old Testament, showing how the prophet Joel prophesied events and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
He also told the people that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and was raised from the dead, which “cut them to the heart.” When they asked what they should do, Peter exhorted them to repent of their sins and to be baptized. According to the account in Acts, about 3,000 people were baptized following Peter’s sermon.
For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church. Peter, the first Pope, preached for the first time and converted thousands of new believers. The apostles and believers, for the first time, were united by a common language, and a common zeal and purpose to go and preach the Gospel.
As we prepare to celebrate this great Feast of the Church, Pentecost, the Coming of the Holy Spirit, let us join in participating in our Novena to the Holy Spirit. By praying for the power of the Holy Spirit “to fall afresh on us”, and for the renewal of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in our life, we will be impowered to go forth and announce the good news of salvation to all the nations.
- Wisdom is both the knowledge of and judgment about “divine things” and the ability to judge and direct human affairs according to divine truth.
- Understanding is penetrating insight into the very heart of things, especially those higher truths that are necessary for our eternal salvation.
- Counsel allows us to be directed by God in matters necessary for our salvation.
- Fortitude denotes a firmness of mind in doing good and in avoiding evil, particularly when it is difficult or dangerous to do so, and the confidence to overcome all obstacles, even deadly ones, by virtue of the assurance of everlasting life.
- Knowledge is the ability to judge correctly about matters of faith and right action, so as to never wander from the straight path of justice.
- Piety is, principally, revering God with filial affection, paying worship and duty to God, paying due duty to all men on account of their relationship to God, and honoring the saints and not contradicting Scripture.
Fear of God is, in this context, “filial” or chaste fear whereby we revere God and avoid separating ourselves from him—as opposed to “servile” fear, whereby we fear punishment.
Everything you need to know about Pentecost (catholicnewsagency.com)
Fr. Peter Weiss, S.S.J.
PRAYER FOR FAMILIES
We bless your name, O Lord,
For sending your own incarnate Son,
To become part of a family,
So that, as he lived its life,
He would experience its worries and its joys.
We ask you Lord,
To protect and watch over this family,
So that in the strength of your grace
It members may enjoy prosperity,
Possess the priceless gift of your peace,
And, as the Church alive in the home,
Bear witness in this world to your glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.