This feast commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and takes its name from the fact that it comes nearly 50 days after Easter. According to the New Catholic Dictionary of 1929, the word Pentecost is Greek for pentecostes which means “fiftieth”. It was a Jewish festival and has been observed in the Christian Church since the days of the apostles. “It is often called Whitsunday (White Sunday) from the practice of giving solemn Baptism on that day in early centuries, the candidates being attired in white baptismal robes.”
The three Readings of Pentecost Sunday give distinct progression:
• ARRIVAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. This is affirmed in the first reading (Acts 2:1-11) “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.”
• BEING BAPTISED IN THE HOLY SPIRIT. This is affirmed in the second reading (1 Cor 12: 3b-7, 12-13) – “In the one Spirit we were all baptised into one body.”
• BEING SENT FORTH TO PROCLAIM THE WORD OF GOD SO OTHERS MAY CONVERT TO THE LIVING FAITH. This is affirmed in the Gospel Reading of John 20: 19-23 – “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Whenever we have a birthday celebration we bring gifts for the one whose birthday is being celebrated so too the Holy Spirit brings gifts to us, the Church, as we celebrate our birthday. At that first Pentecost the believers were huddled behind closed doors, in fear, but with the breathing of the Holy Spirit on them the gift of courageous power was released and driven by “wind and fire” these believers were set loose upon the world to make bold proclamation. Pentecost manifested the gift of clear expression. As the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they found themselves proclaiming the good news without ambiguities, obscurities or double-meanings. The message was fully accessible to others, regardless of their nationality.
That same Holy Spirit is with us today in every minute of our lives. In those moments of special goodness, love, joy, unity, peace and courage, it is the presence of Jesus and the grace of the Holy Spirit that are with us – just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit were with His disciples on that Pentecost two thousand years ago.
As we celebrate our birthday this Pentecost, let us pray that when we are called to proclaim God’s word (which is at all times) that the Spirit fill us with eloquence and clarity that others might hear and respond as we proclaim God’s message of love.
1. Catechists and teachers, this Pentecost decorate your classroom with balloons and maybe a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHURCH” banner. Let the students see that it’s a celebration.
2. For your own faith formation get hold of a Catechism of the Catholic Church and read Part 1: The Profession of Faith:
a.) 243–267 under the heading “The Father and the Son revealed by the Spirit”.
b.) 737 – 747– The Holy Spirit and the Church.
(Excerpts of this article from Catholic Doors Ministry, Elizabeth-Anne Vanek) –
Julie Jennings-Chan, CERO Central/South Vicariate