We will see how Pentecost has had different names and meanings over the centuries.
During the Jewish celebration of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father to the Church.
v Every Israelite had to present himself before YHWH, three times a year: the second of these feasts became Pentecost.
In Ex 23:16 it is called the Feast of the Grain Harvest.
v In the book of Number 28:26 it is called the Feast of the First Fruits.
v In the book of Deuteronomy 16:10 it is called the Feast of weeks because this feast was celebrated seven weeks after the feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover.)
v It was also called the Feast of the 50th day(Pentecost) because it was celebrated 50 days after the first grain offering Lev 23,9-14
v This feast became a historical feast in which the people remembered the Covenant on Mount Sinai, and the New Covenant promised by God thorugh the prophets Jeremiah 31,31-34 and Ezekiel 36 :22-28, and fulfilled by Jesus in his Paschal Mystery.
v On the day of Pentecost, the Father sent on the Church the Spirit Jesus had promised.FIRST READING: Acts 2:1-11
Ø The strong driving wind that filled the house, takes us to the beginning of creation when the Spirit of God as a mighty wind covered the abyss.
Ø The noise, the fire, all these strong forces of nature remind us of the theophany on Mount Sinai, when God talked to Moses and made a Covenant with his people, giving them the Law.
Ø The tongues of fire: fire, enthusiasm, to proclaim the marvels accomplished by Christ Jesus.
Ø The "miracle" of the tongues that made possible for all to understand what the Apostles were announcing to them. This takes us to Babel, where people of one tongue could not understand each other due to greed, pride, sin. Pentecost is the opposite of Babel, the Holy Spirit makes those who are different, opposite, enemies to become brothers and sisters, to love one another.
Ø I will copy below two quotations from the Jewish tradition about the event on Mount Sinai:
· God did not have mouth or tongue, but by means of a wonderful act he decided that a thunder should be heard in the air and a blast should be articulated into words putting the in motion. This became fire that had the shape of flames... a voice resounded in the midst of the fire and descended from heaven and this voice spoke the dialect of each one of those who heard it. (Jewish Philosopher called Filon exp[lained in this fashion the divine theophany on Sinai.)
· When the voice of God was pronounced on Sinai it divided itself into seventy voices so that all the nations could understand. The Hebrew people believed that there were 70 nationalities in the world.
(My translation of both quotations which have been taken from the book Gianfranco Ravasi Según las Escrituras- Ciclo C").
Ø All were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Ø Through the 2000 years of history since the First Pentecost, the Church has made present the wonderful event of Pentecost among all the nations, sometimes silently, some other times loudly, through the life and mission of men and women from all nations: of parents, missionaries, catechists, priests, sons and daughtets, .... the complete list would be too long. The enemies become friends, the foreignerand stranger are welcomed into the local community.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 47, 2-3,6-7,8-9
Lord, send outyour Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Alleluia.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord, my God you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works
the earth is full of your creatures.
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created
and you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the Lord endure
may the Lord be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme
I will be glad in the Lord.
SECOND READING 1 CoR 12:3b-7,12-13
Paul says that no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. But it is not enough to pronounce words or sounds, but this sentence must come from our faith, our trust, our love for Jesus.
Paul makes his community realize that there are different gifts, that every one has his or her own gifts, which God gives to us to accomplish a mission in the community.
And to help his community to understand better, he makes the wonderful comparison of the human body, which has many members but it is one body.
Through baptism we are united to Christ
And we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
In the first reading Luke uses the symbol of fire, wind and tongues. In the second reading water is the symbol used to describe who the Spirit is.
GOSPEL Lk 20:19-23
v In the first reading we have seen how Luke explains the coming upon the Holy the Church using images taken from the Old Testament, from the traditions of Israel and even of the peoples around it.
v In the Gospel the Church invites us to reflect on the mystery of the coming of the Holy Spirit in the way John explains it.
v According to the Gospel of John, the Lord came and stood in their midst, on the evening of the same day of his Resurrection.
v And in this meeting with them he gave the Holy Spirit
· But before giving them his Spirit
· Jesus gives them Peace thus they will be able to offer it to others.
· Jesus sends them. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. We know that through baptism we have been submerged in Christ to participate of his life and cooperate in his mission "the salvation of all men and women."
· Jesus gives to them the power to forgive sins. He will cooperate with them, he will accept and support the decisions they will make.
We have seen the two accounts of the coming of the Holy Spirit, one from the Gospel of John, Jesus gives his Spirit the same day of his resurrection. In fact in the Gospel of John Jesus gives his Spirit, on the cross.
On Pentecost the Church is born,
· it has been conceived and nurtured in the heart of God the Father from all eternity.
· Jesus began to form it with his disciples
· and now it is made visible to the world by the Spirit of God on the day of Pentecost.
SEQUENCE OF PENTECOST
Come, O Holy Spirit, come! From Your bright and blissful Home Rays of healing light impart. Come, Father of the poor, Source of gifts that will endure Light of ev'ry human heart.
You of all consolers best, Of the soul most kindly Guest, Quick'ning courage do bestow.
In hard labor You are rest, In the heat You refresh best, And solace give in our woe.
O most blessed Light divine, Let Your radiance in us shine, And our inmost being fill.
Nothing good by man is thought, Nothing right by him is wrought, When he spurns Your gracious Will.
Cleanse our souls from sinful stain, Lave our dryness with Your rain, Heal our wounds and mend our way.
Bend the stubborn heart and will, Melt the frozen, warm the chill, Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful who in You, Trust with childlike piety, Deign Your sevenfold gift to send.
Give them virtue's rich increase, Saving grace to die in peace, Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.
The same Holy Spirit, by appearing in the form of tongues of fire above the Apostles on Pentecost, showed us this truth quite clearly: an apostolic missionary must have both heart and tongue ablaze with charity. One day the Venerable Avila was asked by a young priest what he should do to become a good preacher. His ready answer was, "Love much.'' And both experience and the history of the Church teach us that the greatest preachers have always been the most fervent lovers. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiogrpahy 440.
CLARET, Antonio María , Autobiography
HAAG, H; VAN DER BORN, A; DE AUSEJO, S. Diccionario de la Biblia (Bible Dictionnary), Editorial Herder 1981.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiography
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según Las Escrituras (According to the Scriptures), Year C, 2006.