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Pentecost

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1-2).

Pentecost was originally a Jewish festival, also known as the Festival of Weeks or Shavuot. It is celebrated 50 days (hence the name Pentecost) after the Passover. It served as a celebration of the grain harvest as well as a celebration of the Torah (Law), which was received by Moses on Mt. Sinai 50 days after the Hebrew people were delivered from slavery in Egypt. It is also known as the Festival of Weeks because one counts a week’s worth of weeks (7×7=49 days) after the Passover (+1=50 days) to arrive at the date. The Old Testament book of Ruth is often associated with Pentecost because the barley and wheat harvest plays an important role in the story.

For Christians, Pentecost is when we remember and celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Church. Following Jesus’ ascension, the disciples met together, prayed, and waited. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered them to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ, and thus the church was born. We are especially mindful of this event on the Day of Pentecost, but throughout the season of Pentecost, we seek to celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the world and to remember the role of the Church in God’s work in the world to bring about the reign of God.

The liturgical color for Pentecost is red, and prominent symbols include fire and a dove (both representing the Holy Spirit). Pentecost Sunday this year is May 27, 2012. There is no firm transition from the Season of Pentecost (red) to Ordinary Time (green), but we typically make the change in early fall.