Pentecost Sunday

Why do we celebrate Pentecost? And what do we know about it

The primary source of this feast in scripture is found in the two texts of today’s liturgy. Acts 2:1-11 and John 20:19 -23. The first thing that strikes us when we read these texts is that they take place on two different days. In the Gospel of John, it takes place on Easter Sunday.
While taking about the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, John 20:1 says “Early on the first day of the week…”; this is Easter Sunday. Now look at verse 19 of the same chapter, the Gospel reading of today which says, “when it was evening ON THAT DAY, the first day of the week…”(we are still in Easter Sunday) and then in verse 22 after giving them the gift of peace he “ breathed on them said to them , receive the Holy Spirit.”

On that first Easter Sunday, when Jesus breathed on his apostles, he gave them the Holy Spirit. But on Easter Sunday there were no tongues of fire or strong wind. On Easter Sunday, they receive the Holy Spirit with the mandate to forgive sins. Yet even though the Holy Spirit was given to them on this day we do not call this day Pentecost but refer to the text in Acts 2:1-11 as THE PENTECOST. So, what then is Pentecost and why is it celebrated on this day, fifty days later?

Many Catholics may imagine that the feast of the Pentecost is a Christian festival; well, its actually Jewish! Pentecost is a Greek work which when translated simply means 50; that which is celebrated fifty days later. The Jews have three important festivals that they pilgrimed to Jerusalem for; the Passover, the Pentecost and the feast of the tabernacles. The Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the Passover.

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