For the Jewish people, Pentecost was a feast of thanksgiving that marked the conclusion of the grain harvest; it was also a time to commemorate the giving of the law at Sinai. It was celebrated 50 days after Passover. For the first Christian believers, gathered to celebrate this feast in Jerusalem, the giving of the Holy Spirit reinvented Pentecost. It marked a new beginning: God would be present among his people not in words carved in stone, but in a whole new way, living in their hearts, and speaking through them. Just as the old feast was a time to celebrate the abundance of God’s gifts by giving back to God the first fruits of the fields, so the new Pentecost celebrates the incredible abundance of God’s giving, the many gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is “the joyful conclusion of the Easter season” (Proclamation of the Dates of Easter on Epiphany). It ranks with Christmas, Epiphany, and the Ascension (see GNLYC,59). It is a day to pull out all the stops, a day for incense, processions, banners, for creative expression of the truth we celebrate: the gift of the Holy Spirit has been given to us. Jesus is here!
Pentecost is 50 Days after Easter and is known as the birthday of the Church. This year it is on May 20, 2018.
The stained glass window is from St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Bloomfield, NJ.