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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost


Pentecost Sunday
May 23, 2010
June 12, 2011
May 27, 2012
May 19, 2013
June 8, 2014
May 24, 2015
May 15, 2016

The New Testament is hidden in the Old and
the Old Testament is revealed in the New.

In the Old Testament, the Feast of Weeks (Deuteronomy 16:9-12), or Shavuot (“weeks”) in Hebrew, is also known as the Feast of the Grain Harvest (Exodus 23:16), the Day of Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26), or Pentecost among Greek speaking Jews (Tobit 2:1; 2 Maccabees 12:32), was a festival of joy and thanksgiving celebrating the completion of the harvest season. This feast was calculated to occur seven weeks from the day of the presentation of the first sheaf of the barley harvest during the Passover celebration (Leviticus 23:15).

Scripture is rich in symbols and the use of weeks was no exception. It is called the Feast of Weeks because the Lord specifically commanded Moses to pass down to all descendants a perpetual statute to count seven complete weeks, (seven being the number of perfection) from the day when the “sickle is first put in the standing grain”, and then on the day after the seventh week, on the fiftieth day, the feast was to be observed (Leviticus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:9), Pentecost being Greek for fiftieth.

It is interesting to note that the celebration of Pentecost is commemorated on the same day as the Jewish feast of Weeks was memorialized. Weeks translated into Greek is Pentecost, with the feast occurring fifty days after Passover, just as our present day Pentecost follows fifty days after Easter.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way, “On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, manifested, given, and communicated as a divine person: of his fullness, Christ, the Lord, pours out the Spirit in abundance.” (CCC 7 31)

God’s plan and his fulfillment of his plan is truly amazing. He intertwines and links the Old Testament with the New carefully unfolding his story to his people. The Holy Spirit who was present with God at the creation as a mighty wind bringing an orderly universe out of primordial chaos (Genesis 1:1-2, 4), was present in the form of fire when God gave the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18), present in the form of a “strong driving wind” and “tongues as of fire” in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 2:2-4) is now present to each of us today. The wind or breath of God symbolizes that God is about to act in a completely new way in the history of man, and fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Spirit’s actions (CCC 691,696)

The Old Testament reading on Pentecost is taken from Genesis 11:1-9, the story of the Tower of Babel. At a time when the “whole world spoke the same language,” our ancestors designed a “city and a tower with its top in the sky,” to make a name for themselves apart from God. The Lord came down and confused their language, so that their plan could not be completed. This story is used to illustrate man’s increasing wickedness when left to their own methods apart from God and also serves as the origin for the diversity of languages among the various people of the earth.

This Old Testament reading from Genesis is suggestive by way of contrast to Acts 2:1-11 where we read that the Apostles after being filled with the Holy Spirit were heard by a multitude of pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem from throughout the land for the Feast of Weeks. The people God had dispersed at the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament were brought back together in communion through the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. They spoke different languages, yet in the Spirit they each heard in their native tongue.

Be reminded that seven weeks earlier at Passover, Peter had been so frightened that he denied knowing Christ when confronted by a woman (Luke 22:56) now after being filled with the Spirit of God bursts forth from the upper room where he had been hiding after the Ascension, to preach to the crowds.

Pentecost, can be called the Birthday of the Church and marks the point at which the Church takes its first steps, alive with the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the Good News to all nations. Come Lord, send us your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

For devotional items related to the Catholic Church 

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Art
Decent of the Holy Spirit, Tiziano Vecellio
Pentecost, El Greco

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