Sunday of Pentecost
After the Savior’s Ascension into the Heavens, which took place on the 40th day after Pascha, the Eleven Apostles and the rest of His disciples, all together about 120 souls returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. This group of people also included the God-loving women who followed after Him from the beginning, His Mother, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, and His brethren. His brethren were his relatives who were children of the elder Joseph, who took care of the Theotokos when Christ was born.
In Jerusalem, they entered into the house where they usually gathered, and they went into the upper room. Here they prayed and called upon the name of the Lord, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, just as their Lord had promised them.
In the meanwhile, they chose Matthias, who was elected to take the place of Judas among the Apostles. This was done so that the scripture would be fulfilled that the empty Bishopric would be filled. (This is an old term that describes the See of a Bishop)
And so it was on this day, the seventh Sunday of Pascha, and the fiftieth day after Pascha that a great wonder occurred! At the third hour of the day from the rising of the sun, which is 9:00, there suddenly came a sound from Heaven, like when a mighty wind blows, and it filled the whole house where the Apostles and the rest were gathered. Immediately after the sound, the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire that divided and rested upon the head of each one. We see this in the icon for this great Feast day.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, all those present began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit instructed them. This means they were able to speak in every language of the world! The Holy Spirit filled them so that they could spread the Good News of our salvation to the whole world!
The Holy Day of Pentecost was also a holiday for the Jews. So many Jews came to Jerusalem at that time. The Jewish holiday of Pentecost was a celebration for when God gave the Law – the 10 Commandments – to His people. This also occurred 50 days after the Passover.
Because the Jews celebrated Pentecost at this time, the city of Jerusalem was filled with Jews from various places for the feast. Though they spoke many different tongues (languages), they were present in Jerusalem by God’s will. God had a plan! When they heard that sound that came down from Heaven to the place where the disciples of Christ were gathered, all ran together to learn what had taken place. They knew this was a strange wind that was different from anything else they have ever seen or heard! When they found the Apostles, they couldn’t believe their ears! They heard the Apostles speaking in their own tongues. Marveling at this, they said one to another, “Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue?” But others, because of their foolishness and excess of evil, mocked the wonder and said that the Apostles were drunken.
Then Peter stood up with the eleven, and raising his voice, spoke to all the people, proving that that which had taken place was not drunkenness, but the fulfillment of God’s promise that had been spoken by the Prophet Joel:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that I shall pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy” (Joel 2:28)
And he preached Jesus of Nazareth unto them, proving in many ways that He is Christ the Lord, Whom the Jews crucified but God raised from the dead. On hearing Peter’s teaching, many were filled with compunction and received the word. Thus, they were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added to the Faith of Christ.
Here are the reasons why today’s feast is so important:
- The coming of the All-holy Spirit into the world – They became brave and filled with new understanding about all that they had seen from Christ. They became heralds of the truth and teachers of the whole world.
- The completion of the Lord Jesus Christ’s promise – This holy day of Pentecost is the final feast in God’s great plan for us that all started with His coming into the world on Nativity.
- And the fulfillment of the hope of the sacred Disciples, which we celebrate today – On this day, the Disciples became Apostles. A disciple is a student. Before the coming of the All Holy Spirit, the Disciples of the Lord were unlearned fishermen. With the coming of the Holy Spirit they were made wise and were filled with a great desire to teach the world about our Saviour!