The Jewish feast of Pentecost (ancient Greek name) and the fiftieth day, also called weeks (in Greek is Shavuot) came 50 days after Passover to celebrate the spring grain harvest and the offering the first fruits to God. Later is was associated with the giving of the Law or Torah and focused more on covenant renewal. Renewal being the word I associate most with Christian Pentecost; let me explain why.
First, if we examine the life of Peter who was an ordinary guy living an ordinary life carrying on the family business as a fisherman with his brother Andrew until they met Jesus.
Jesus plucked Peter, who plucked Andrew, out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. He not only witnessed the Divine and the human side of Jesus, but he was empowered to tap into the power of God and use it like Jesus did.
Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.i Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”
He also gave them this for confidence when doing so:
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
I think it is our faith that needs to be renewed and strengthened from time to time. Unlike, Peter who was physically present for all the extraordinary miracles and example of God in action, we were not and our faith depends on what God tells us in our hearts and through the scriptures. We believe without seeing, relying on trust in His word. This is why as Christians the scriptures are so important because His word is alive and as we listen it takes root in our hearts and sprouts faith. As God is always speaking to us the world is always speaking to us too, and it tells us not to listen to God and not to believe in His holy presence. The world is always looking to deceive and distract us from forming that close knit bond with our creator and replace Him with our egos.
If we continue to look at Peter and the course of his life we see that even he let the world’s voices replace his faith with fear. This is why we see him betray Jesus three times, run from the crucifixion and hide into his old way of life and don’t we do the same when things get tough on our spiritual journey? We turn from Him, whom we love and we deny the truth and hide so we don’t have to change letting fear set in and control our actions. The disciples on the road to Emmaus tried to do the same thing by running with fear and letting disappointment and discouragement set it. They forgot all that Jesus taught them until He reminded them. We all get weakened by life’s circumstances and we need that almighty gift of renewal by God reminding us by reawakening in us the word that has gone dormant as though asleep.
Getting back to Peter, we see him feeling remorseful for his actions and hiding himself back into his former life when Mary Magdelene comes along to personally relay a message to Peter.
Mark 15: 5-7
On entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a white robe, and they were utterly amazed. He said to them, “Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. But go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.’”
The scriptures refer to Peter separately as though to ensure Mary doesn’t assume he would not be forgiven. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt being singled out by name? I can. I bet he dropped everything and ran to that upper room to be the first one there to welcome Jesus and ask for forgiveness. I also believe that while they were all huddled together praying and waiting for Jesus and the Holy Spirit, which I am told, took a total of nine days (where we get nine- day novenas) Mary the mother of God filled them with stories of Jesus life from birth to crucifixion. I think she did this to encourage and prepare them for the power of the Holy Spirit to fall into them for the tasks ahead.
Acts 2: 1-4
When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,* and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,* which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues,* as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Pentecost became the counter to the Tower of Babel where everyone was given a different speech and no one could understand one another or communicate. At Pentecost, everyone was given wisdom and clarity to understand all the different tongues of speech. This is also where many, but especially Peter, was given the courage and necessary faith to stand up against his adversaries and be martyred for his beliefs and teachings of Jesus. He was crucified upside down in Rome under Emperor Nero Augustus Caesar. I don’t know about you, but I sure could use that extra charge of power to my faith life. And from the looks of these pictures at the Pentecost mass it appears that Pope Francis is being given the power of the Holy Spirit for the upcoming Synod of the Family.
image courtesy of Vatican Radio
image courtesy of Vatican Radio
image courtesy of Vatican Radio
We have all been baptized in the Holy Spirit, With all who are baptized, let us give glory to the Lord, and ask him: Lord Jesus, give us your spirit to make us holy.
Send us your Holy Spirit, that we may acclaim you before the world as Lord and king: Lord Jesus, give us your spirit to make us holy.
Give us a sincere love, that the Church may be a loving family: Lord Jesus, give us your spirit to make us holy.
Give your life giving Grace to all the faithful, that they may receive with joy the gifts of the Spirit: Lord Jesus, give us your spirit to make us holy.
Give us the power of your Holy Spirit, to heal our wounds and make us strong: Lord Jesus, give us your spirit to make us holy.
Almighty Father, let the love we have celebrated in this Easter season be put into practice in our daily lives. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
(Prayers are taken from The Liturgy of the Hours)