The word “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek word for “fiftieth.” In ancient Jewish tradition, Pentecost was a feast day known as the Feast of Weeks, which was celebrated the fiftieth day after Passover. According to Scripture, the first fruits of the grain harvest were offered to God during this feast (Leviticus 23:15-21 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11).

In the New Testament, Jesus’ Apostles stayed in the Upper Room on the Feast of Weeks. There, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and made ready to preach the Gospel.

As soon as St. Peter received the Holy Spirit, he preached his first homily to non-Christians. He told the crowd that the prophet Joel had predicted the future coming of the Holy Spirit. He then attests that the very Jesus whom they had crucified has risen from the dead. Immediately, those in the crowd were “cut to the heart” and sought repentance (Acts 2:37).

Peter told these new converts that in order to be saved, they had to repent and be baptized. According to the book of Acts, about three thousand people converted to Christianity that day (Acts 3:41).

From this point forward, the Apostles and their successors went out into the world and made new disciples, as Jesus had commanded them. Thanks to their courage and the grace of God, the Church is the majestic entity it is today.

Pentecost, with Christmas and Easter, ranks among the great feasts of Christianity. It commemorates not only the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Disciples, but also the fruits and effects of that event: the completion of the work of redemption, the fullness of grace for the Church and its children, and the gift of faith for all nations.

This year on the Feast of Pentecost (May 19th – see Easter and the Movable Feasts), we should ask ourselves, “How can I, like the Apostles, step out of my comfort zone to share the Good News?


In God’s Hands
The Month of Mary