June 9, 2019 – Ruminations by Fr. Pat

This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost. This Feast originally was a Jewish Feast. In Judaism the Festival of Weeks was a harvest festival that was celebrated seven weeks and one day after the first Sab-bath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Deuteronomy 16:9 or seven weeks and one day after the Sabbath in Leviticus 23:16.
While a Harvest festival, it was also the date that Jews living around the Ancient World celebrated the Covenant of Noah. This Covenant included prohibitions against worshipping idols, cursing God, murder, adultery and sexual immorality, theft, eating flesh torn from a living animal, as well as the obligation to establish courts of justice.
This Feast Day also commemorates the anniversary of the day when God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai.
From the Christian perspective it is no coincidence that this day is important. On this day God sent the Holy Spirit on the Church to help Her in preaching the Gospel to all the nations. From the 5th Century, Pope Leo I states: “As once to the Hebrew people, freed from Egypt, the law was given on Mt. Sinai on the fiftieth day after the sacrifice of the lamb, so after the Passion of the Christ when the true Lamb of God was killed, on the fiftieth day from his Resurrection, the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and the Community of Believers.”
We, rightly, believe that the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles on this day, but think about how more in depth this action means. The giving of the Torah to the Jewish People solidified their Covenantal Relation-ship with the Lord, making them His Chosen People.
However, for Christians, the Holy Spirit gave the Church the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfill the Great Commission – to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. It fulfills the New Testament promise from Christ (Luke 24:46-49) that the Apostles would be “clothed with power” before they would be sent out to spread the Gospel.

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