Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Fr Jack (Khalil): The Feast of Pentecost

Arabic original here.

The Feast of Pentecost

It is the fiftieth day, which was the second most important feast in the Old Covenant, which was celebrated on the fiftieth day or, after seven weeks, from the Feast of Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16, Deuteronomy 16:9-10), so it was also called the "Feast of Weeks" (cf. 2 Chronicles 8:12-13).

On the fiftieth day, all members of the people were to appear before the Lord in His temple (Exodus 34:22-23). The people kept this feast just as it kept the Sabbath and it was not permitted to undertake any work, but rather they had to go to the House of the Lord to offer thanks.

The Arabic word 3ansara [i.e., Pentecost] comes from the Hebrew 3asrit, which is derived from the Hebrew verb 3isar, which means 'to gather, to collect'.

The word means "gathering," which in the usage of the Old Testament indicates the "feast," a day when the people gather in joyous celebration of thanksgiving to God. According to later Jewish tradition, Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai on the fiftieth day after the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.

Then, after the Savior's ascension, the fiftieth day acquired a new meaning with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit whom Christ had promised to the Apostles. The Apostles looked out in prayer and patience for the fulfillment of Christ's promise to them (Acts 1:4, 14) and the Holy Spirit came upon them like power poured out within them. On the fiftieth day, the Holy Spirit revealed Himself in person, enlightening the minds and hearts of the Apostles and changing their life. He likewise made them worthy of the hard work of evangelizing, to which they were committed until the last breath of their life, becoming witnesses to God the Word incarnate who conquered death, so that the borders of the Church might extend and encompass the corners of the earth, as Christ our God commanded.

At the completion of the days of celebrating glorious Pascha, as the souls of believers are immersed in holy joy on account of Christ's resurrection and ascension to heaven, the spiritual exultation reaches its peak on the Day of Pentecost. The fathers of the Church gave great importance to this feast in their sermons, which abounded in explanations of the holiness of this day. Just like the great Feasts of the Lord, the Church dedicated an entire week to celebrating this feast and singing its hymns.

When the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and upon us who are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, Christ came to be within us by His Spirit who dwells within us (Revelation 8:9-11), enlightening out minds, speaking to us, inspiring our thoughts, encouraging us to everything that is peace, love and holiness, and making "everything work together for the good of those who love God." By the grace of God's spirit, the concern of those who believe that Christ is the Savior of the world turns from that which is fleshly and selfish, fixed on earthly benefits, fragile material security and bodily pleasures to that which is spiritual, directed by the voice of the Spirit, who, if one loves and follows Him, one experiences power, happiness, peace, tranquility, and holiness that the world is unable to give.

The Holy Spirit has given us a new spiritual law that achieves justification from sins and holiness and guarantees salvation if we faithfully follow this way of life, obeying Christ who dwells within us by His Spirit and bearing witness in the world by word and deed.

Archimandrite Jack (Khalil)
Saint John of Damascus Theological Institute

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