A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC
July 29, 2016
July 11, 2020
May 19, 2018
As we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord last weekend, Fr. Tim indicated that the feast marked the end of Jesus’ ministry and His life on earth. Jesus sent His disciples out to continue His ministry by telling them “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (c.f. Mk 16:15).
The disciples were no longer the students and became the teachers. This week we celebrate Pentecost in which the Holy Spirit gave the disciples their final preparation to continue Jesus’ earthly ministry. But what do we know about Pentecost? In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered together in the Upper Room.
A “strong, driving” wind filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, allowing them to speak in different languages so that they could understand each other. It was such a strange phenomenon that some people thought the Christians were just drunk - but Peter pointed out that it was only the morning and that the phenomenon was caused by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit also gave the apostles the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfill the great commission - to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. It fulfills the New Testament promise from Christ (Luke 24:46-49) that the Apostles would be “clothed with power” before they would be sent out to spread the Gospel. Pentecost always occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his ascension into heaven. Because Easter is a moveable feast without a fixed date, and Pentecost depends on the timing of Easter, Pentecost can fall anywhere between May 10 and June 13. The name of the day itself is derived from the Greek word pentecoste, meaning 50th.
It was right after Pentecost that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, preached his first homily to Jews and other non-believers, in which he opened the scriptures of the Old Testament, showing how the prophet Joel prophesied events and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
He also tells the people that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and was raised from the dead, which “cuts them to the heart.” When they asked what they should do, Peter tells them to repent of their sins and to be baptized.
According to the account in Acts, about 3,000 people were baptized following Peter’s sermon. For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church - Peter, the first Pope, preaches for the first time and converts thousands of new believers. The apostles and believers, for the first time, were united by a common language, and a common zeal and purpose to go and preach the Gospel.