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Holy Pentecost


In the Church's annual liturgical cycle, Pentecost is "the last and great day."  It is the celebration by the Church of the coming of the Holy Spirit as the end - the achievement and fulfillment - of the entire history of salvation.  For the same reason, however, it is also the beginning: it is, in a sense, the "birthday" of the Church as the presence among us of the Holy Spirit, of the new life in Christ, of grace, knowledge, adoption to God and holiness.

In Judaism, Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Law.  Fifty days after the Hebrews left Egypt, in other words, fifty days after the first Passover, Moses received the Tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai.  Down to our own time, the Jews commemorated this event on Petecost.  This is the covenant between God and his people, a covenant concluded by the Law, and also by the fruits of the earth, for Petecost for the Jews is, at the same time, a thanksgiving for the harvest.  Slavic Eastern Christians have kept one aspect of this Jewish feast in that we have the the custom of decorating our churches with greenery and flowering branches on this day.  In Judaism, this feast is also called the "Feast of Weeks" because seven weeks are counted from the beginning of the spring harvest [Deut 16.9-10] and this feast is celebrated on the seventh week after Passover.


The following readings below are for Sunday, May 31, 2020:

Today's Epistle reading [Acts 2.1-11]

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared toi them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.  And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  And they were amazed and wondered, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?  Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.



The Gospel reading for today [John 7.37-52, 8.12]:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.  He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, 'Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'."  Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

When they heard these words, some of the people said, "This is really the prophet."  Others said, "This is the Christ."  But some said, "Is the Christ to come from Galilee?  Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?"  So there was a division among the people over him.  Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

The officers then went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them.  "Why did you not bring him?"  The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this man!"  The Pharisees answered them, "Are you led astray, you also?  Have any of the authorities or of the Pharisees belived in him?  But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed."  Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?"  They replied, "Are you from Galilee too?  Search and you will see that no prophet is to rise from Galilee."

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."