petecost harvest

Below is the First Reading at Mass and reflection for Pentecost Sunday from Acts 2:1-11. For the reflection dealing with the Gospel Reading from John 20:19-23, read ‘The Biblical Roots of Catholic Confession‘.

    “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

    Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

The word ‘Pentecost’ means ‘fiftieth’ in Greek; expressing its distance in days from the Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover, which was the first agrarian pilgrimage of the year. The Hebrew names for the feast were haqqasir “the (grain) harvest” (Cf. Exo. 23:16), and hag sabu’ot (or Shavout), the “Feast of Weeks” (Exo 34:22, Lev 23:15). The Shavout not only commemorates the anniversary of the day that YHWH gave the Torah to His people while they were assembled at Mount Sinai, but it is also a concluding festival of gladness for the grain harvest in Israel, which follows the bearly harvest which occurs fifty days prior to it during the Passover. In ancient times this feast lasted seven weeks.

The Christian Feast of Pentecost is the fulfillment of Jewish agrarian festival. For, on this day we commemorate the anniversary of Christ Jesus giving His people the Holy Spirit, which He said would guide us to all truth (Cf. Jn. 15:13), and teach us everything and remind us all that Jesus taught us (Cf. Jn. 14:26). In the Old Covenant the Law was written on tablets and parchment, but God’s sharing with the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the promise that YHWH made to Jeremiah that in the New Covenant, “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:33).

From the beginning to the end, the cooperative language of the sacred Scriptures is clear. Call to memory all of the instances in the Old Testament when YHWH said to His people if they do this then they will receive this blessing, but if they do this then they will receive this curse. We even see Christ Jesus making use of this contractual language when He said, “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn. 6:54). We see the language of Cooperating with God again in the book of Acts (1:4): “While meeting with them, [Jesus] enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.”

The descent of the Holy Spirit on those who were gathered in the upper room for Pentecost is the first fruits of the resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus, and the fulfillment of His promises, but it wouldn’t have been possible without their obedience. Those who were gathered were blessed and were able to go out and bless others only because they did what Jesus enjoined them to do. They were blessed because they did the one thing that God the Father told them to do at the Transfiguration; that is, “Listen” to His Son.

Obedience to God is difficult at times because we do struggle to reconcile our own will and our own desires with His will and His desires for us. We struggle with the conflict that the consequences of the original sin have with our original virtues that God deposited in us. Perhaps like you, I’ve seen both sides of the coin – I’ve seen what my life looks like when I am being disobedient to God, and I’ve seen what my life looks like when I am being obedient to God. I definitely know the latter is the better half of the deal, and, like you, I know obedience is a decision – it’s not an emotion or something impossible to achieve. Similarly, Sainthood is a Decision, and today we commemorate the magnanimous mercy of God who gave us all that we need in the Holy Spirit to always make choices that glorify Him, that empowers our neighbors to be holy, and to pave the way to our own Sainthood.

Obedience to God opens a floodgate of blessings – it opens up a harvest season of all that God desires for us. Are you ready to claim your harvest?

Lord God, Love In Me, Love With Me, and Love Through Me.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.