Today we celebrate the third of the three solemnities of the Easter season, the Solemnity of Pentecost. Pentecost is the Greek name of a Jewish feast celebrated approximately 50 days after Passover. In the Old Testament it is called the Feast of Weeks and was celebrated seven weeks after Passover. It celebrated the beginning of the grain harvest in Israel. Later it commemorated the anniversary of the giving of the Law (the Ten Commandments) to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Greek name means, “the fiftieth day.”
As we learn in today’s First Reading, the feast of Pentecost was the occasion for the gathering in Jerusalem of many Jews from throughout the Mediterranean world. This provided the context for the mystery we celebrate today: the descent of the Holy Spirit—first upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Apostles and other disciples gathered together (cf. Acts 1:13-14)—and then upon the multitude who heard the disciples preaching. In the disciples the Spirit inspired their preaching; in their hearers the Spirit inspired faith.
The feast of Pentecost is sometimes called “the birthday of the Church.” On this day the Church began the mission entrusted to her by Christ, as heard in last Sunday’s Gospel: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) And on this day the Church gave new birth to some 3,000 new believers through the waters of baptism. (Cf. Acts 2:41)
The Holy Spirit, who is God, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, is sometimes called the “soul of the Church.” Saint Paul explains in today’s Second Reading: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body … and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” May we, who have received the gifts of the Holy Spirit in baptism and confirmation, with the Holy Spirit ever at our side, continue to live the life of faith as active members of the Church.
The celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost brings the Easter season to an end. However, the first two Sundays after Pentecost are solemn feasts: the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity and the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. They celebrate two fundamental mysteries of our faith: that the one God is a Trinity of persons; and the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of the Church’s life.
Our parishes’ fiscal year ends on June 30. Pledges to the Diocesan Annual Appeal must be received by that date to be credited for this year. Please honor your pledges to the Appeal and continue your support of our parishes. St. Peter Parish has reached its target for this year; but St. Charles parishioners, please consider an extra one-time gift to the Diocesan Annual Appeal to help the parish meet its financial obligations by the end of the fiscal year.
Pray the rosary this week for students who are graduating from any level of schooling, that they may always put to good use what they have learned. Pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for those from our parishes who have recently received their first communion or confirmation. Pray also for good weather for the spring planting and growing season. As always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.