The holy Pentecost

On the same day, the eighth Sunday from Pascha, we celebrate the holy Pentecost.

With mighty wind, in form like tongues of fire
Christ gives God’s Spirit now to the Apostles.
Spirit on this great day on fishers poured.

This feast we also took from the Hebrew Bible; for just as they celebrate Pentecost, honouring the number seven, and that when they had passed through fifty days from Pascha they received the Law, so we too as we celebrate for fifty days after Pascha receive the all-holy Spirit, who gives laws and guides into all truth and lays down what is pleasing to God.

Note that there are three Feasts among the Hebrews, Pascha, Pentecost and Tabernacles. They keep Pascha to commemorate the crossing of the Red Sea – for word Pascha means ‘crossing’. While this same feast showed our crossing and ascent from the darkness of sin towards Paradise.

They celebrated Pentecost in commemoration of their suffering in the wilderness, and how they were brought through many afflictions in the land of promise, for then they enjoyed fruit, corn and wine. And it showed our misery through unbelief and our entry into the Church; for then we also receive communion of the Body and Blood of the Master. Some say that this is the reason that Pentecost is celebrated by the Hebrews. Others however say that it is honour of the fifty days that Moses fasted and received the Law written by God. At the same time they commemorate the sacrifice to the calf and the other things which Moses performed, ascending and descending the Mount. Differently it was thought that Pentecost was observed by the Hebrews because of honour for the number seven, as has been said; for this number multiplied by itself makes fifty days less one. The honour of the Pentecostal fifty is not only in days but in years, from which was born the Jubilee among them; for this happens when years are multiplied seven times. Then they leave the ground unsown and give relief to animals and they allow bought slaves to leave.

The third feast is that of Tabernacles, celebrated after the harvest, that is to say five months after Pascha. It was established to commemorate the day when Moses first fixed the Tabernacle that had been revealed on Mount Sinai through a cloud and which had been constructed by the master craftsman Beseleêl. For they would make tabernacles and celebrate this feast, living in the fields and giving thanks to God, and they would bring in the fruits of their own labours. And it seem that it was for this that David entitled the Psalms For the wine vats. This was a type of our resurrection from the dead, when our earthly tabernacles are dissolved and put together again and we shall enjoy the fruits of our own labours and keep festival in eternal tabernacles.

It is to be noted that on this day, when Pentecost was completed, the Holy Spirit came to dwell upon the Disciples. But since it seemed good to the holy Fathers to divide the feasts, because of the greatness of the all-holy and life-giving Spirit, because the Spirit is one of the holy Trinity, source of life, so we too will say tomorrow how the holy Spirit came to dwell.

At the prayers of the holy Apostles, Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.


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