EIGHTH SUNDAY OF PASCHA: FEAST OF HOLY PENTECOST AND COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ON THE EIGHTH SUNDAY OF PASCHA, OUR HOLY ORTHODOX
CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE HOLY PENTECOST AND THE
COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

There cam to be a sound out of the heaven, like as of a violent wind born along, and tongues, as if of fire, being distributed, and it sat upon each one of the Apostles. The Spirit promised by Christ was poured out upon the fishermen while the day of Pentecost was being fulfilled. "The Holy Spirit is Fire, issuing from Fire, speaking, energizing, distributing the spiritual gifts, through Whom all the Prophets, and the Apostles of God, together with the martyrs were crowned" (Pentecostarion, Sunday of Pentecost, Orthros [Matins] Praises, Mode Four).

On this day we celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the time appointed for the promise, and the fulfillment of hope. How exceedingly great and venerable is this mystery! The Holy Spirit PROVIDES ALL THINGS. He gushes with prophecy. He PERFECTS THE PRIESTHOOD. HE HAS TAUGHT WISDOM TO THE ILLITERATE. HE HAS SHOWN FORTH THE FISHERMEN AS THEOLOGIANS. HE HOLDS TOGETHER THE WHOLE INSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH. THEREFORE, O COMFORTER, ONE IN ESSENCE AND THRONE WITH THE FATHER AND THE SON, GLORY TO THEE! [Pentecostarion, Sunday of Pentecost, Vespers Sticheron, Mode One].

Saint Gregory Palamas reminds us that "recently, at the Ascension, we saw Christ lifted up from the ground bodily {Acts 1:9). Now, through the Holy Spirit SENT BY HIM BY HIM TO HIS DISCIPLES, WE SEE HOW FAR CHRIST ASCENDED AND TOW HAT DIGNITY HE CARRIED UP THE NATURE HE ASSUMED FORM US. Clearly, He went up as high as the place from which the Spirit sent by Him descended. It follows that at His Ascension, Christ went up to the Father on High, as far as the Fatherly bosom, from which comes the Spirit. Christ, having been shown, even in His human form, to share the Father’s glory, now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father and is sent by Him from heaven. But when we hear that the Spirit WAS SENT BY THE FATHER and the Son, this does NOT MEAN that the Spirit has no part in their greatness; for He IS NOT JUST SENT, BUT HE ALSO SENDS HIMSELF AND HE CONSENTS TO BE SENT. " Continuing, he explains: "This is shown by Christ’s words spoken through the Prophet: ‘My hand also has founded the earth, and My right hand hath fixed the sky… and now the Lord, even the Lord, and His Spirit, hath sent Me’ (Isaiah 48:13-16). Again, speaking through the same Prophet, He says, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me; He has sent Me to preach glad tidings to the poor’ (Isaiah 61:1). The Holy Spirit is not just sent, but Himself sends the Son, Who is sent by the Father. He is, therefore, SHOWN TO BE THE SAME AS THE FATHER AND THE SON IN NATURE, POWER, OPERATION, AND HONOR."

"…It was on a Sunday, the Tenth Day after the Ascension, and the 50th after the Passover, while the day of Pentecost was being fulfilled, when they were all WITH ONE ACCORD IN THE SAME PLACE. Suddenly there came to be a sound out of the heaven, like as of violent wind borne along, and if filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them TONGUES, EVEN AS THE SPIRIT WAS GIVING THEM TO UTTER. And there were Jews abiding in Jerusalem, pious men, from every nation of those under the heaven. Indeed, by Divine Providence, there were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost great multitudes from different nations and tongues, such as Parthians and Medes and Elamites and those who dwell in Mesopotamia, also Judaea and Cappadocia, Pontos and Asia, also Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya which are in the region of Cyrene, and the Romans, both Jews and proselytes (converts), who sojourned there, Cretans and Arabians. These pilgrims declared that "WE HEAR THEM SPEAKING IN OUR OWN TONGUES THE MAGNIFICENT WORKS OF GOD" [Acts 2:11]. These visitors were Jews by race and religion, but, because they had been born and brought up in various places among strange nations, they were dispersed from ancient times, and each was called after the place of his birth.

While all were amazed and were in doubt, wondering what was this phenomenon, there were also mockers who remarked, "They have been filled with new wine." But Peter stood up and explained that "there are not drunk, as ye suppose, for it is the third hour of the day. But this is that which hath been spoken by the Prophet Joel. And that it shall be in the last days, ‘ saith God, ‘I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS, AND EVEN UPON MY BONDMEN AND UPON MY BONDWOMEN IN THOSE DAYS I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT.’ AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY, ‘AND I WILL SHOW WONDERS IN THE HEAVENS ABOVE, AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW, BLOOD AND FIRE AND VAPOR OF SMOKE. ‘THE SUN SHALL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS, AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THAT GREAT AND NOTABLE DAY OF THE LORD COME. AND IT SHALL BE THAT EVERYONE, WHOSOEVER SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD, SHALL BE SAVED" (Acts 2:17-21). Peter then spoke to the Israelites present of Jesus the Nazarene, the crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the prophecy of David, concluding by saying, "Let all the house of Israel know that God made Him, this same Jesus Whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ."

This pricked their heart so that those present said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles: "Men, brethren, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them,
REPENT, AND LET EACH ONE OF YOU BE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST FOR REMISSION OF SINS, AND YE SHALL RECEIVE THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. For the PROMISE IS TO YOU AND AS YOUR CHILDREN, AND TO ALL THOSE AT A DISTANCE, AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL FORTH" (Acts 2:38-39). After more exhortation, those who indeed gladly welcomed his words were baptized; AND IN THAT DAY ABOUT THREE THOUSAND SOULS WERE ADDED. We then are told in Scripture that "they were persevering in the teaching of the Apostles and in in the communion, and in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers" (Acts 2:42). And the Lord was adding to the Church those who were being saved, day by day. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)

[To be continued]

____________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

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