The Solemnity of Pentecost

05-23-2021Letter from the PastorDeacon Peter Auriemma

The Solemnity of Pentecost This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, the most important feast of the Church after Easter and Christmas. It is called Pentecost from the Greek word for fifty because we celebrate it fifty days after Easter. What many Christians don’t know is that it was, and still is, a very important Jewish holy day called the festival of Shavuot, which is celebrated fifty days after Passover. It was one of the three great feasts that required all Jewish men to come to Jerusalem to celebrate it. That is why at the first Pentecost, Jerusalem was filled with Jews from all over the Roman Empire who spoke many different languages.

The feast was important because it celebrated the day that God established a Covenant with the people of Israel and gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. With the coming of Jesus, however, God had not only fulfilled that Covenant which He had made with Moses, but also through the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, He established a New and final Covenant that would bring salvation and eternal life to all people. And so, on the Jewish feast of Shavuot, God sent the Holy Spirit on the Apostles to confirm this New Covenant, as well as the Church which was established by and through the blood of Jesus Christ. That is why Pentecost is called the birthday of the Church.

Jesus told His Apostles that after He ascended into Heaven, He would send them the Holy Spirit. He promised that when the Holy Spirit came, they would be “clothed with power from on high”. After Jesus returned to His Father, the Apostles hid themselves in Jerusalem. They were afraid that they would be arrested for following Jesus. Together with our Blessed Mother Mary, they waited and prayed for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Nine days later, the Holy Spirit, whose Name in Hebrew means “the Breath of God”, came with a tremendous roaring sound that was heard throughout Jerusalem. Tongues of fire parted and settled upon each of them, and they were filled with the incredible power of the Holy Spirit, Who would stay with the Church forever. The Apostles were suddenly transformed. They immediately left their hiding place to boldly proclaim to the people in the Temple the Good News that everyone could now be saved through Jesus Christ. He is the long-awaited Messiah and the Son of God. Because of their preaching, three thousand people were baptized, and the Church was officially born.

As we say in the Creed, the Holy Spirit is the Lord and the Giver of Life. Because He is pure love, He is our Comforter, Counselor and Advocate for all our needs. He even prays for us when we are unable to put into words exactly what we want to say. At our Baptism, we became members of the Church and first received the Holy Spirit. At our Confirmation, we received the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost reminds us that as members of this New Covenant, we are the beloved sons and daughters of God the Father, redeemed by Jesus Christ, and continually renewed, strengthened and made holy by the love of the Holy Spirit. We have the right and privilege to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide us, to enlighten us, to teach us, to defend us and to love us! So, on this birthday of the Catholic Church, let us thank God for drawing us into the Church of His Son, and let us pray to the Holy Spirit every day, not only on Pentecost. Just say, “Come, Holy Spirit”! He is closer to us than our very own breath, and He is waiting to transform our lives with His love, just as He transformed the lives of the Apostles! Happy Pentecost to all!