Saturday, May 14, 2016

Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday

May the 15th is the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday—the fiftieth and final day of Eastertime and a celebration of the birth of the New Covenant Church

The Theme of the Readings for Pentecost: The Gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son

(Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; I Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 or (Cycle B) Galatians 5:16-25, or (Cycle C) Romans 9:8-17; Gospel of John 20:19-23 or (Cycle B) 15:26-27; 16:12-15 or (Cycle C) 14:15-16, 23b-26

The Old Covenant holy day of obligation known as the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot in Hebrew, or the Feast of Pentecost as it was known in Jesus’ time (from the Greek he pentekoste hermea meaning “the fiftieth day”), was a feast established by Yahweh in the covenant formation at Mt. Sinai. In the beginning of the great adventure at the crossroads of salvation history known as the Sinai Covenant, God ordained that Israel was to commemorate seven annual feasts in which the Israelites would relive the themes of mercy and redemption that were played out in the Exodus experience. Three of the seven annual feasts were to be “pilgrim feasts” in which every man of the covenant must present himself before Yahweh’s holy altar of sacrifice and were designated in Exodus 23:14-17, 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:16 and 2 Chronicles 8:13 as the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Weeks/Pentecost, and Shelters/Tabernacles.

According to Leviticus 23, of the seven annual God-ordained feasts only the harvest feasts of Firstfruits and Weeks/Pentecost were not given specific dates. The Feast of Firstfruits was to be celebrated on the day after the Sabbath of the holy week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread; it was to always fall on the first day of the week, our Sunday (Lev 23:9-14). Seven full weeks were to be counted from Firstfruits, and on the fiftieth day they were to celebrate the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, as the ancients counted with no zero-place value (Lev 23:15-16). Therefore, the Feast of Pentecost also fell on the first day of the week, our Sunday. The Feast of Firstfruits in 30 AD was the day Jesus arose from the dead as the “Firstfruits” of the resurrection of the dead destined for God’s storehouse of Heaven (Col 1:15). Christians continue to celebrate this designated “perpetual” (Lev 23:14) feast as Easter Sunday, and fifty days later (as the ancients counted without the concept of a zero-place value) was the first Christian Pentecost.

After the Resurrection, Jesus taught the Church for forty days until His Ascension (Acts 1:3). At His Ascension Jesus instructed the Apostles and disciples to return to Jerusalem and to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit: John baptized with water but, not many days from now, you are going to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). The Apostles and the disciples were obedient to Jesus’ command. They prayed together as one community for ten days until fifty days after Christ’s Resurrection, until the Sunday of the Jewish feast of Pentecost which commemorated the birth of the Old Covenant Church at Mt. Sinai. On the Feast of Pentecost, 30 AD, God the Holy Spirit baptized and indwelled the 120 New Covenant people of God praying in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, giving them the one language of the Gospel of salvation to unite all peoples of the world—undoing the confusion of tongues and the separation of peoples in the judgment of the Tower of Babel (Acts 1:13-15; 2:1-11; Gen 11:1-9).

For a more in-depth study of the readings for the Feast of Pentecost see:

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2016