It’s a watershed event for Christianity. Pentecost Sunday comes to you as a dramatic intervention of God – tongues of fire, speaking in tongues, and each understanding in one’s language. Probably no machine has achieved the speed and accuracy of communication that happened on Pentecost Sunday.
Sometimes, when I think of writing on a faith topic, self-doubt creeps in – everyone knows it. Why write if others already know the stuff. There are times; I take things for granted that people know the catechesis taught to us in the seminary. When I finish a blog, I discover that it was timely in the life of people. I see a hunger to know about faith and scripture. I do get insightful suggestions and thought-provoking queries from ordinary people. So, I keep writing to share and to learn from others.
1. What’s the meaning of “Pentecost’?
In simple words, the English word Pentecost is derived from the Greek work pentekostos meaning fifty. Pentekoste hemera is an ancient Christian expression celebrating the ‘fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus. The Jews celebrate 50 days after the end of Passover. Christians observe the fiftieth day after Easter. The Feast of Weeks in Judaism derives from instruction in Leviticus 23:16 to count seven weeks (50 days) from the end of Passover.
2. Acts 2:1-13 records Pentecost Sunday.
Book of Acts in the New Testament mentions the Pentecost event. The dramatic event describes the Holy Spirit descending on a group of followers who begin to speak in tongues after receiving it. Reading the text (Acts 2:1-13) will provide you with the details.
3. Speaking in tongues: Miracle or Mistaken as being Drunk
It was easy to mistake the followers speaking in tongues as drunk on a festive day in Jerusalem. There were Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem to celebrate Shavuot. But those who talked about the miraculous message connected to God’s work and those who understood it in their language were amazed. Others thought that the followers of Christ were drunk.
4. Pentecost Sunday is regarded as the Birthday of the Church.
You will not be surprised, as many Christians recognize Pentecost as the birthday of the Church. It is a day Apostles begin proclaiming the Gospel and thousands got baptized as followers of the way. Starting from Pentecost, the apostles went out to spread Jesus’s message, establishing the Church. Descent of the Holy Spirit is one of the most ancient feasts in the Church.
5. Whitsun is another Name for Pentecost Sunday.
Traditionally the Church celebrated it as Whitson – or White Sunday. The term is associated with baptism because it was a day for baptisms and those who were baptized would wear white. There is also an alternative explanation that the word wit is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning understanding. Pentecost was when God poured out the wisdom of the Spirit onto the people.
6. Pentecost happens ten days after Ascension.
Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would come after Him. Jesus did not leave the disciples as orphans (John 14:16-18). Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after Easter. So, ten days after the Ascension, the promise was fulfilled when Peter and the early Church were in Jerusalem.
7. What happens after Pentecost Sunday?
Pentecost officially ends the Easter Season for Christians. Once again, ordinary times begin in the Church. The following Sunday will be Corpus Christi Sunday (Body and Blood of Christ) or the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time. The ordinary time will culminate in celebrating the Feast of Christ the Universal King before Advent.
8. The debate about Speaking in Tongues
Let’s talk about the debate. If you are still reading, you are interested to learn more. Luke tells us the story of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-13. Some scholars suggest it to be an experience of glossolalia or speaking in tongues – an ecstatic outpouring of praise in an unknown language. Others agree that the hearers understood what the disciples said in their local language. Worshipers may emphasize speaking in tongues over the precise understanding of the message. We need a fresh outpouring of the Spirit to connect us to God and the people.
9. Is Pentecost the fulfillment of two promises?
You recall the Old Testament prophet Joel 2:28: I will pour out my Spirit on all people. And indeed, you heard Jesus’ words in John 16:5-15 about sending another Counsellor, the Spirit of truth. Pentecost fulfills the prophesies.
10. Is it the wind, tongues of fire, or other languages?
The breath or wind are regarded as symbols of the Spirit of God. Like Ezekiel 37, the breath of God enters the dry bones, and they come to life; Pentecost represents the power of God to instill life in the dry bones of faith of the apostles. The tongues of fire that come to rest on each of the followers is a dramatic pictorial of the downpouring of the Spirit. Unlike the story of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11), Pentecost breaks barriers among people. At Babel, God confuses the language. But God reverses it at Pentecost.
Pentecost Sunday, is sometimes, locally known as the feast of the Holy Spirit. It is often a day we recall the gifts of the Spirit. Some parishes celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost Sunday. As Easter time ends with Pentecost, the effect of the Spirit in us continues to lead us to God and witness the works of faith. Let me in the comments below your experience with the Holy Spirit. Your suggestions do help.
About the Author
Feroz Fernandes, a Catholic Missionary, identifies himself as an Uncommon Priest. Father Feroz loves adventure in the apostolate. Check out his debut book The Uncommon Priest: Incredible Stories You Never Read on amazon. And also, the YouTube Channel: Feroz Fernandes promote a better understanding of scripture.