A Reflection on the feast of Pentecost

A Reflection for Whit Sunday / Pentecost

 Pentecost or Whit Sunday is one of the important festivals of the Christian year but it is one we share with the Jewish faith. I found the following which explains a little about this shared holy day: –

The Jewish Pentecost: Both the Jews and the Christians now celebrate Pentecost.  Along with the Feast of the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost was one of the major feasts of the Jews.  During these three great Jewish festivals, every male Jew living within twenty miles of Jerusalem was legally bound to go to Jerusalem to participate in the feast.  The word Pentecost is Greek for pentecostes which means “fiftieth.” The feast received this name because it was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of the Passover.  Another name for the Jewish Pentecost is Shebuot or “The Feast of Weeks” (the “week” of seven Sabbaths between Passover and Pentecost).  It was originally a day of thanksgiving for the completion of the harvest.  During Passover, the first omer (a Hebrew measure of about a bushel), of barley was offered to God.  At Pentecost, two loaves of bread were offered in gratitude for the harvest.  Later, the Jews added to the Feast of Pentecost the element of Yahweh’s Covenant with Noah, which took place fifty days after the great deluge.  Still later, they made this feast an occasion to thank God for His Sinaitic Covenant with Moses, which occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt.

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 the Resurrection of Jesus.  The Paschal mystery — the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of Jesus — culminates in the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father (at the request of His Son), on Jesus’ disciples. The feast also commemorates the official inauguration of the Christian Church by the apostolic preaching of St. Peter, which resulted in the conversion of 3000 Jews to the Christian Faith.  Pentecost is, thus, the official birthday of the Church. 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 main theme of today’s readings is that the gift of the Holy Spirit is something to be shared with others.  In other words, the readings remind us that the gift of the Holy Spirit moves its recipients to action and inspires them to share this gift with others.

Ian R