On Sunday, June 8th, we celebrate Pentecost. After Easter, Christmas is the second-greatest feast in the Christian liturgical calendar, but Pentecost is not far behind. Pentecost marks the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and it is celebrated 50 days after Easter (the word “pentecost” is Greek for “the fiftieth day”). The Christian Pentecost supplanted the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which took place 50 days after the Passover and celebrated the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai.
The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story of the original Pentecost (Acts 2). Jews from all over were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast. On that Sunday, ten days after the Ascension of Our Lord, the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the Upper Room, where they had last seen Christ after His Resurrection: “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. [Acts 2:2-4]
The descent of the Spirit must have been confounding and alarming–a great noise swept through the room, cloven tongues of fire rested over their heads, and everyone could suddenly speak in various languages. Yet, instead of shying away and closing themselves off in terror, the apostles opened their hearts to the Holy Spirit and accepted His blessings joyfully and gratefully.
Christ had promised his apostles that he would send his Holy Spirit, and, on Pentecost, they were granted the gifts of the Spirit. The Apostles began to preach the Gospel in all of the languages that the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3,000 people were converted and baptized that day. For that reason, it is often called the “the birthday of the Church.”
In this stunning moment, the prophecy of Jesus’ outpoured spirit and blessings was fulfilled to his dedicated apostles, who had been steadily praying together as they continued on their mission to spread God’s word.
Regardless of our circumstances, God has bestowed each one of us with the same Gift of the Spirit he gave to the apostles. To receive the gifts and the blessings of the Holy Spirit, we must open our hearts and let Him in! When we close our hearts, we are unable to feel the power of the Spirit flowing through us and into every aspect of our beings. The Spirit in us gives us the courage to spread Jesus’s message and the power to share the blessings God has given us.