Happy Pentecost! Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost. “Pentecost” literally means “50th.” It is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover feast by the Jews. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving feast. Later, the Jews included in it the remembrance of God’s Covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai on their way to the Promised Land.
In the New Testament, the Feast of Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after the Feast of Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The feast fulfills the promise that Jesus made in Luke’s Gospel: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Lk. 24:46-49.) This “clothing with power” came with the bestowal of the Holy Spirit upon the Church at Pentecost.
The Church teaches that on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles who were gathered in an upper room with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, “as a mighty, rushing wind,” fulfilling Jesus’ promise when He “breathed on them,” as recorded in John’s Gospel. This event marks the beginning of the Church. Therefore, this day is called the birthday of the Church. The liturgical color for Pentecost is red, a reminder of the flames that “rested on the apostles and early Christians.” The most recognizable symbol for the Holy Spirit is the dove, usually emitting golden rays of light and peace.
The Holy Spirit gave the apostles gifts of grace through which they would undertake the evangelizing mission of the Church. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles were given the miraculous “gift of tongues” — so that everyone from every country understood the message of salvation as if they were hearing it in their own language. Thousands were converted by the preaching of Peter and the other apostles. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, summarized this beautifully in one of his homilies: “This Solemnity makes us relive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the other disciples gathered in prayer with the Virgin Mary in the Upper Room. Jesus, risen and ascended into Heaven, sent his Spirit to the Church so that every Christian might participate in his own divine life and become his valid witness in the world.”
The feast also reminds us of the roles and functions of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As an indwelling God, the Holy Spirit makes us His Living Temples. As a strengthening God, He supports us in our fight against temptations and in our mission of bearing witness to Christ by living transparent Christian lives. As a sanctifying God, He makes us holy through the Sacraments: a) He makes us children of God and heirs of Heaven
through Baptism; b) He makes us temples of God, warriors and defenders of the Faith, through Confirmation; c) He enables us to be reconciled with God by pardoning our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation; and d) He gives us spiritual nourishment through the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. As a teaching and guiding God, He clarifies and constantly reminds us of Christ’s teachings. As a listening and talking God, He listens to our prayers and enables us to pray, and He speaks to us mainly through the Bible. And as a Giver of gifts, He gives us His gifts, fruits and charisms to live a holy and authentic Christian life.
With the feast of Pentecost, we will conclude the most glorious season of Easter—the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ—and tomorrow we will begin Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar. The liturgical color for Ordinary Time is green, and the focus of the readings will be on Jesus’ ministry. The Paschal candle will be removed from the sanctuary and will be brought back at the time of baptism so that from its flame the candles of the baptized may be lit. The candle is also placed near the coffin at funerals to signify that our death is a true Passover.
Last Saturday, June 3rd, 19 of our children and adults received the Sacrament of Confirmation. It was a powerful experience for our children and for us, Santa Sophia community to witness the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.Next week, on Saturday, at the 4:30 pm Mass and Sunday, at the 11:00 am Mass 20 of our children will receive Holy Communion for the first time. I request you to remember them in our prayers that they may continue to grow in love for the Eucharist and long for Jesus the Bread of Life.