Solemnity of Pentecost
May 31, 2020
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
2000 years ago the Holy Spirit manifest Himself in power
by descending on the first disciples
sounding like a loud wind and appearing tongues of fire.
Today He manifests Himself in an equally amazing way: my homily will be brief.
The word Pentecost is Greek for “50th day”,
which refers to it being 50 days after the great feast of Passover.
Of course, the Passover commemorated the day
when the Hebrews were saved from slavery in Egypt.
Remember how they sacrificed the Passover lamb, ate its flesh
and then sprinkled the lamb’s blood on their door posts
so that when the angel of death came to take the first born of Egypt,
the Hebrews would be saved as the Angel
would see the blood of the sacrifice and pass over their houses,
And afterward, afraid of the power of their God, pharaoh set them free.
That’s the Jewish Passover.
The Jewish Pentecost, or in Hebrew the Shavuot, came 50 days later
when the Hebrews were at Mount Sinai
and God gave them the Torah—the Law—
teaching them how to live in love with Him and each other.
So these 2 feasts go together in Judaism,
just as in Christianity the Christian Passover,
called the Triduum, or the Paschal Mystery
—the feast days of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus—
goes together with the Christian Pentecost.
Think of it: the Jewish Passover was the celebration
of the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb that free them from slavery.
And in a similar way the Christian Passover, or Good Friday and Easter,
is the celebration our salvation
won by Jesus, the Lamb of God, the new Passover Sacrifice,
freeing us from slavery to the devil, sin and death.
And the Jewish Pentecost was the celebration of
receiving the Law of God through Moses
that enabled the Jews to remain free in God,
knowing God’s basic will for their lives.
And in a similar way the Christian Pentecost is the celebration
not of receiving the law of God,
but of receiving the Spirit of God Himself
enabling us to remain free from the devil, sin and death.
So, in a very real sense Pentecost celebrates our ability,
by the power and action the Holy Spirit,
to make the salvation of the Cross and Easter
constantly present in our lives.
Now, we were not able to be together this year for good Friday and Easter.
But here we are now together for Pentecost.
And so today the Lord reminds us that
this is not just the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit 2000 years ago,
but the celebration and remembrance that by His coming
every day can be a celebration of Good Friday and Easter
—every day we can be saved.
Just seeing you today is a reminder to me that the Holy Spirit
is present in the Church—we’re back, and he brought you here today!
But more importantly, you are not here just to make me, your father, happy,
or even to socialize with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
And really, you didn’t come here specifically just to celebrate Pentecost.
You came here, really, to go to Mass.
And what is the Mass if not the celebration, commemoration and re-presentation
of the new Passover sacrifice of Lamb of God
on the Cross on Good Friday, and His resurrection on Easter?
And how does that happen if not by the power of the Holy Spirit,
who descended on the first Christian Pentecost
and remains in the Church even today.
So that by the power of the Holy Spirit acting in the Church and the priest,
the salvation of the Triduum is made present to us today.
And of course we recall, that in the sacrifice of the Cross,
the gates of heaven are unlocked,
and in the Resurrection Jesus lives forever
seated at the right hand of God in heaven.
So that the new Christian Passover becomes not only the death and resurrection
but the gateway into heaven itself.
And so Scripture tells us it the wedding feast of the lamb
—as Jesus and His Church are united in grace and love
destined to live in eternal bliss, by means of his sacrifice
and our Communion with Him in the Eucharist.
And so at every Mass we are at the foot of the Cross,
and at entrance of the open tomb.
But also, heaven comes down to earth, and earth goes up to heaven,
and we are surrounded by Mary and all the Saints and Angels,
and taken up into the glory and grace and love of
God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Wow: And they said Mass was not “essential.”
By the power of the Holy Spirit the salvation of Cross and resurrection
is alive present and powerful in the Church today.
Pentecost is the outpouring of the Triduum on the Church for all her generations,
even till today.
Maybe we don’t hear a loud wind, or see tongues of fire,
or even speak in foreign languages.
But we have a greater sign and miracle than all of that here today: the Church,
living and breathing after centuries of men, both inside and outside of her,
trying to destroy her.
And in the Church, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
we have the Mass and Eucharist.
And in the Eucharist we have Jesus and our salvation.
Praised by Jesus Christ!