Pentecost Sunday, May 11, 2008  The Holy Spirit: The Agent of Proclamation and Sacrament

Pentecost Sunday, May 11, 2008

To understand the mystery of the Feast of Pentecost, we must first understand the background. Pentecost means 50 days. We celebrate Pentecost exactly 50 days after the Resurrection Sunday. 50 days is one day after 49 days. 49 days is equal to 7 weeks. 7 weeks is equal to 7 days. So, 7 weeks x 7 days equals 49 days. These figures of 7 symbolize completion, perfection, perfect timing.

  • Jews celebrated this Feast of Pentecost originally, 50 days after their first Passover from Egypt (Lev. 23: 9-21; Deut 16: 9-12 Num 28: 26). So, it can be said that the Feast of Pentecost proclaimed that “At the fullness of time; when time was ripe; at the perfect/appointed time, God redeemed his people out of Egypt of slavery.”
  • It so happened that when they were at Mt. Sinai, and they were about to celebrate this Feast, it also so happened that Moses brought down the 10 Commandments Tablets with him from the top of Mt. Sinai and presented them to the people of Israel. So, Pentecost assumed an additional meaning of the Formation of the Nation of Israel as a One Nation under God. The giving of the Law, marked the Birth of Israel as a Nation of God (Ex. 19 & 20). So, not only was Pentecost a celebration of passing over, it was also a celebration of the nationality and independence day with a constitution written by God and Moses as the nation's lawmakers (a legislative body).
  • Once they settled in Palestine, and were about to celebrate the Pentecost, it so happened that they did so with the First Fruits of the new Land. So, Pentecost assumed the meaning of a Feast of the Harvest of the First Fruits of that new Land. It assumed the meaning of Thanksgiving for the first fruits/produce of the Harvest in the new land (e.g., Fresh Grapes and New Wine).
  • Several centuries later, it so happened that The Feast of Pentecost, with Jews from diverse nationalities gathered to celebrate it, it so happened that the Feast occurred exactly 50 days after Our Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection. And that day was marked by an outpour of the Holy Spirit upon the 12 Apostles. With all Jewish people from across the entire known world gathered together in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost with its multi-layers of meaning, the Holy Spirit seized the 12 Apostles and they were pumped up to proclaim The Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ to all the nations.

We are celebrating the Pentecost under this last meaning. However, it carries all the other previous meanings it collected throughout the Israel History of Salvation.

a) As Pentecost marked 50 days after the Passover from Egypt, this time Pentecost marked 50 days since the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

b) As it marked the 50 days at which the Law of 10 Commandments was promulgated to the People of Israel, it also marked by the Formation of the Church as the New One Nation under God;

  • this time not with 12 sons of Israel (Jacob), but with the 12 Apostles as its foundation;
  • this time not under the order and guidance of the Law of the 10 Commandments as to what to do and what not to do, but under the order and guidance of the Holy Spirit. (“The Holy Spirit will teach you and remind you of everything”);
  • this time not composed of the 12 Tribes of Israel but of all the Nationalities in the world. It is a One Universal Nation Under God. Such a nation is the Church;
  • this time Pentecost marked the Birth of the Church as that One, Holy, Universal/Catholic, and Apostolic Nation/Church under God.

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, Slaves or Free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (Second Reading)

c) As it marked the Feast of Harvesting the First Fruits of the New Land of Canaan, Pentecost marked now marked the Harvesting of the First Fruits of Christ's Death and Ressurection (Christ's Passover). Those First Fruits of the Holy Spirit are the 7 Gifts of the Spirit as we know them: Wisdom, Knowledge, Counsel, etc.

But the other 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit are the 7 sacraments. Whenever we partake in these sacraments we partake in the first fruits of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord.

"Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

That is an illusion to the sacrament of Reconciliation right there. It is in and through the celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation that you partake in the First Fruits of your Redemption. However, the Apostles or their successors have to pronounce that absolution (forgiveness) for you to receive these first fruits of your salvation. You can't wish yourself forgiven. Those upon whom the Holy Spirit was deposited in the form of tongues of fire and given the mandate to forgive sins have to pronounce you forgiven.

Every other Sacrament is a Fruit of the Holy Spirit:

  • Baptism: As “the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove” at His Baptism at Jordan, so at Baptism we partake in this First Fruit of Christ's Passover. The formula and recipe is that we are baptized “in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Confirmation: The Apostles upon whom the Holy Spirit rested, share this Spirit that descended upon them freely with us, the faithful so that we partake in the First Fruits of Christ's Passion, Death and Resurrection (Christ, the New Passover Lamb of Sacrifice).
  • Confession: “Whose Sins you forgive are forgiven them.”  And the only way the Apostles can carry out this mandate of forgiving sins is through the sacrament of confession by either the General Absolution or Individual Absolution.
  • Eucharist: As Mass when the priest extends his hands over the gifts and says, “And so Father we bring you these gifts. We ask you to make them holy by the power of the Holy Spirit”, that is called the moment of Epiclesis. The Holy Spirit starts the transsubstantiation process. The Holy Spirt transforms the bread and wine into the true body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ.
  • Ordination: When the Bishop (successor of the Apostles) lays hands on the ordinant, the Holy Spirit descends upon the mere mortal man and turns him into another Christ (the Alter Christus).

Anointing of the Sick: St. James ordered his church saying, “Is there anyone sick among you? He should ask for the priests of the church. They in turn are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord. This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill, and the lord will restore him to health. If he has committed any sins, forgiveness will be his.”

As you can see when you partake in the sacraments, you partake in the Holy Spirit, given unto the Apostles as the first fruit of the Lord Redemptive death.You drink from the fountain of the Holy Spirit. You bathe in the River of the Divine Mercy (which is the Holy Spirit). You swim in the flowing mighty river of God's Spirit.

“Receive the Holy Spirit” in and through these 7 fountains/sacraments. Draw water of salvation with joy from these wells of salvation.

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