Pentecost

Pentecost Sunday—Solemnity

Sunday after the Seventh Week of Easter

Liturgical Color: Red
Version: FullShort

Quote:
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. ~Acts 2:1–4

Reflection: Today, we celebrate the most glorious Solemnity of Pentecost, the promised Gift of the Father and the Son to Jesus’ disciples. After rising from the dead, Jesus appeared to His disciples for forty days. During those appearances, He offered them proof of His resurrection, continued to teach them, and reminded them of all He had revealed to them about His death and Resurrection, preparing them for the next step of their mission. “While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for ‘the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit’” (Acts 1:4–5).

During the ten days after Jesus’ Ascension, the eleven Apostles gathered together in the upper room with the mother of Jesus and many other disciples, totaling 120 in all. The gathering place was most likely the same place that the Apostles ate the Passover meal, the first Eucharist, with Jesus. As they met, the first order of business was to choose a successor to Judas. They cast lots, and Matthias was chosen to be one of the Twelve.

On the fiftieth day after Jesus’ Resurrection, ten days after His Ascension, the 120 disciples were once again gathered in the upper room when they experienced something beyond their imagination. From the sky came a noise like a strong driving wind. It filled the room they were in. Tongues, as of fire, fell upon all gathered, and they were given the gift of tongues, which enabled them to speak in different languages—by the power of the Holy Spirit—to the diverse groups of people in Jerusalem. This is what Jesus had promised them, and suddenly they understood as they received the Gift of God.

After receiving the Holy Spirit, the disciples went out into the community of Jerusalem and began to boldly proclaim the Gospel to all. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were shocked and confused. Some accused the disciples of being drunk and scoffed at them. Some, however, quickly believed. Peter then stood up and gave a stirring and powerful sermon that presented the whole mystery of salvation. He spoke of Jesus as the Savior and the need to repent and be baptized. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day” (Acts 2:41). The new followers then devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the celebration of the Eucharist. A strong Christian community was formed in Jerusalem.

As the community continued to grow, learn the teachings of the Apostles, and receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, miracles took place. Peter and John cured a blind man. Soon, there were 5,000 converts to Christ who were filled with the Holy Spirit. More miracles took place at the hands of all of the Apostles, people from the surrounding villages came and were converted, and the new believers lived as one, sharing their food and resources with others.

Soon the members of the Sanhedrin became concerned. They thought they had stopped Jesus, but they saw that the Apostles were converting thousands. The Apostles were arrested and jailed, but an angel let them out in the night, and they appeared in the Temple the next day, continuing to preach and heal. The bewildered Sanhedrin members did not know what to do. They hoped that the new excitement would soon subside and everything would go back to normal—but it didn’t.

Recognizing the need to better care for the poor with the money and provisions the thousands of disciples held in common, the Apostles appointed seven men to be deacons for the task, so that the Apostles could continue to preach, heal, and offer the sacraments. Shortly afterward, blood was shed. Stephen, one of the newly ordained deacons, was martyred. “On that day, there broke out a severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1).

The above illustrates the role of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost was the birthday of the Church. The Holy Spirit’s mission was to form the Church and empower each baptized member of Christ’s body to fulfill his or her specific duty. Some were to preach, some cared for the poor, some shed their blood for their faith, and others were to be sent to other towns and villages. The scattering of the community of the believers in Jerusalem was clearly permitted by the Holy Spirit as a way of expanding the Church beyond Jerusalem. The newly converted and empowered disciples traveled far and wide to expand the newborn Church that grew at a rapid pace as the new Body of Christ matured and fulfilled its mission.

In the years and centuries ahead, the Holy Spirit continued to form the Church. The Apostles were inspired to write what is today the New Testament so that future believers would have firsthand accounts of the Gospel. From there, the successors to the Apostles, in union with the successor of Saint Peter, helped to form the Sacred Tradition, which is the ongoing deepening revelation of the Word of God to address new questions that arose. Jesus’ promise to Peter and his successors that He would give to him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, so that he and his successors could bind and loose on earth as it is in Heaven, evolved and helped the Church to mature. The Holy Spirit enabled the growing communities to continue to take nourishment through the Sacraments. The believers were empowered to pray and to enter into a personal relationship with Him Who rose and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Other believers were filled with charisms needed to build up the Church. The Gospel continued to be preached to the ends of the earth, and the people of God were drawn into lives of profound holiness and union with God. This is all effected by the Gift of the Holy Spirit first given at Pentecost and continually given today.

In addition to building up the Church and enabling it to fulfill its divine mission, the Holy Spirit also sanctifies every individual believer, especially through the bestowal of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord…They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations” (#1831). Additionally, the Holy Spirit instills twelve fruits: “The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: ‘charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity’” (#1832). These graces are first given in Baptism and perfected in Confirmation. Each baptized and confirmed member of Christ has the potential to fully realize these graces so as to grow in holiness and fulfill their divine mission.

As we celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost, call on the Holy Spirit in your life. Too often we receive Baptism and Confirmation with a closed mind and heart. We fail to allow the Holy Spirit to become fully active in our lives. Pray to the Holy Spirit today, and open yourself more fully to all that God wishes to bestow upon you so that you will become holy and a more active member of His Body, the Church.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, come to me and bestow upon me Your seven-fold gifts, so that I can grow closer to Christ Jesus and act more faithfully as a member of His Body. Bear good fruit in my life, and in the lives of others, so that the saving message of the Gospel will reach far and wide, drawing all people to Yourself for Your eternal praise and glory. Most Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit —I love You, believe in You, and trust in You.

Reflection taken from:

Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year
Volumes One–Four


Further Reading:

Gospel Reflection for Pentecost

Prayer for Pentecost Sunday

Catholic Saints & Feasts

Catholic Encyclopedia

Vatican News

Vatican News Agency

Catholic Culture

Opus Dei

Wikipedia


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Pentecost Sunday—Solemnity

Sunday after the Seventh Week of Easter

Today, we celebrate the glorious Solemnity of Pentecost, the promised Gift of the Father and the Son to Jesus’ disciples. After rising from the dead, Jesus appeared to His disciples for forty days, offering them proof of His resurrection, teaching them, and reminding them of all He had revealed to them about His death and Resurrection to prepare them for the next step of their mission. 

During the ten days after Jesus’ Ascension, the eleven Apostles gathered together in the upper room – most likely the place where they ate the first Eucharist – with Jesus’ mother and many other disciples, totaling 120. As they met, they cast lots and chose Matthias as Judas’ successor. 

On the fiftieth day after Jesus’ Resurrection, ten days after His Ascension, the 120 disciples were again gathered in the upper room when they experienced something beyond their imagination. From the sky, a noise like a strong driving wind filled the room. Tongues, as of fire, fell upon all gathered, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, they were given the gift of tongues, which enabled them to speak in different languages to the diverse groups of people in Jerusalem. 

The disciples went out into Jerusalem and boldly proclaimed the Gospel. Peter stood up and gave a stirring and powerful sermon that presented the whole mystery of salvation. He spoke of Jesus as the Savior and of the need to repent and be baptized. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day” (Acts 2:41). The new followers then devoted themselves to learning from the Apostles and to the celebration of the Eucharist. 

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. The Holy Spirit formed the Church and empowered each baptized member to fulfill a specific duty. Some preached, some cared for the poor, and some shed their blood for their faith. The newly converted and empowered disciples traveled far and wide to expand the newborn Church that grew rapidly as the new Body of Christ fulfilled its mission.

In the years and centuries ahead, the Holy Spirit continued to form the Church. The Apostles were inspired to write what is today the New Testament so that future believers would have firsthand accounts of the Gospel. The Apostles’ and Saint Peter’s successors helped form Sacred Tradition, the ongoing deepening revelation of the Word of God to address new questions. 

The Holy Spirit also sanctifies every individual believer, especially through the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord…They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations” (#1831). The Holy Spirit also instills twelve fruits: “The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: ‘charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity’” (#1832). These graces are given in Baptism and perfected in Confirmation. Each baptized and confirmed member of Christ has the potential to fully realize these graces so as to grow in holiness and fulfill their divine mission.

Holy Spirit, come to me and bestow upon me Your seven-fold gifts, so that I can grow closer to Christ Jesus and act more faithfully as a member of His Body. Bear good fruit in my life and in the lives of others, so that the saving message of the Gospel will draw all people to Yourself for Your eternal praise and glory. Most Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit —I love You, believe in You, and trust in You.

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