Last Sunday, June 9th, was the Solemnity of Pentecost. We meditate on the history of Pentecost, and its relevancy in the life of a Christian.
The Feast of Pentecost goes back 1000 years before Christ. Originally, it was a Jewish feast of thanksgiving for the blessings of the harvest in the Promised Land after the exodus experience from Egyptian captivity. In this context, Pentecost was celebrated each year on the 50th day following the Jewish Passover feast. That is where the name Pentecost originated designating 50 days, from the Greek word “pent” meaning five. Gradually, Pentecost became a commemoration of the giving of the Torah to Israelites at Mount Sinai, establishing them as God’s chosen people.
So, it was on the “day the devout Jews had gathered to celebrate the Jewish feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem” (Acts 2:5), when the Holy Spirit in form of tongues of fire descended and rested on each of the Apostles. Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles went forth and proclaimed the Good News of God’s Kingdom to the ends of the earth. This was the defining moment when the Church sprang into life by the work of the Holy Spirit - as we profess in the creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life”. It is no wonder that Pentecost is often referred to as the birth day of the Church!
The Solemnity of Pentecost from the Christian perspective marks the end of the Liturgical Easter Season consisting of Seven weeks, or 50 days following the celebration of the Easter Sunday, and thus announces the beginning of the Ordinary Season in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar until the First week of Advent. During the Ordinary Season, the liturgical color turns to Green symbolizing the hope and life which the Risen Savior brings to our world.
Therefore, for Christians, Pentecost is a call to share the hope and life of Christ with all those facing hopeless situations, that through our self-giving the world is well served. St. Paul teaches that when we are led by the Spirit of Pentecost, we produce desirable fruits of: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal 5:22).
Unfortunately, many times we ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit to the detriment of our own souls. Jesus Christ himself warns us: “whoever disobeys the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt 12:31-32; Lk 12:10; Mk 3:29). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC no. 1864) describes the 6 ways by with the sin against the Holy Spirit manifests itself:
- Despair – Lack of trust in God. The temptation to believe that God is limited in all his works, and incapable of protecting us. As if to say; even God cannot fix it!
- Presumption – A false hope that salvation can be earned regardless of one making any person effort to do God’s will or not.
- Envy – Begrudging others for their goodness, which impedes one’s growth in virtue and holiness
- Obstinacy – Denial of the existence of evil. Persistence in state sin
- Final impenitent – Rejection of God’s gift of mercy and forgiveness, even at the point of death
- Contradicting or misrepresenting the revealed truth of the Catholic Faith for the purpose of making it undesirable
On this Solemnity of Pentecost, let us pray with humble and contrite hearts that the Spirit of God may re-awaken in each of us the desire to strive for holiness, that in all word, thought and deed, we may give glory to God.
Peace be with you.