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
CELEBRATES THE GREAT FEAST DAY OF HOLY PENTECOST AND THE
COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. (Part II)
On this day we celebrate the final of the great mystery and economy of Christ’s Incarnation. It is the sequel and conclusion of the feasts. Christ fulfilled His promise. Before His Resurrection, He said to His Disciples: "It is expedient for you that I should go away; for unless I go away, the Paracletos (Paraclete) will NOT come to you; but I go, I will send Him to you" [John 16:7]. And, "The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, that One shall teach you all things, and shall remind you of what I said to you" [John 14:26]. Then after the Resurrection, when He was assembled together with His Disciples, He bade them not depart from Jerusalem, "but to wait for the promise of the Father, which ye heard Me; for John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days after these" [Acts 1:4-5). And, "Ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth" [Acts 1:8].
Thus, on the day corresponding TO THIS DAY OF SALVATION, the Day of Pentecost, the Apostles of the Savior, who were formerly simple fishermen and unlearned, were suddenly instructed by the Advent of the Holy Spirit. They were now possessed of the greater wisdom and spoke plainly of heavenly doctrines. They became preachers of Truth and teachers to the whole world. From that day they began the work of their great mission (apostole). This ORDINATION OF THE APOSTLES WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF GRACE, OF THE NEW ISRAEL.
Now to one should imagine that the Holy Spirit’s work began at Pentecost, rather IT WAS CONTINUED BECAUSE THE HOLY TRINITY IS ONE IN ACTION AND IN WILL. So says Saint Leo the Great: "The Lord Jesus had promised that the Spirit should come, not then first to be THE INDWELLER OF THE SAINTS, but TO KINDLE TO A GREATER HEAT, AND TO FILL WITH LARGER ABUNDANCE THE HEARTS THAT WERE DEDICATED TO HIM, INCREASING, NOT COMMENCING HIS GIFTS, NOT FRESH OPERATION BECAUSE RICHER IN BOUNTY. FOR THE MAJESTY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IS NEVER SEPARATE FROM THE OMNIPOTENCE OF THE FATHER AND THE SON, AND WHATEVER THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT ACCOMPLISHES IN THE ORDERING OF ALL THINGS, PROCEEDS FROM THE PROVIDENCE OF THE WHOLE TRINITY."
Now a word about the Pentecost holy icon. The building in the background of the holy icon represents THE UPPER ROOM WHERE THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD ASSEMBLED AFTER THE ASCENSION. We do NOT see the Twelve, all together, seated. Among those portrayed we observe SAINT PAUL, though he was NOT historically present at that time. We also see the FOUR EVANGELISTS–MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE, AND JOHN–BEARING BOOKS OF THE GOSPEL. In many icons, the other Apostles are holding SCROLLS. This REPRESENTS THE TEACHING AUTHORITY GIVEN TO THEM BY CHRIST. We also note that the Apostles are shown in a semicircle, which EXPRESSES THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH WITH HER DIVERSE MEMBERS. IT IS EXECUTED IN INVERSE PERSPECTIVE AS THE FIGURES THAT ARE FURTHER AWAY APPEAR LARGER. In the center of the holy icon, but below the Apostles, there is a Royal figure against the dark background. THIS IS A SYMBOLIC FIGURE, COSMOS, REPRESENTING THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD ABIDING IN A DARK PLACE, A WORLD OF SIN AND PAGANISM. The OLD FIGURE, we discern, SYMBOLIZING THE WORLD WITHOUT FAITH, IS CLAD IN RED AND SIGNIFIES THE GORE AND SACRIFICES TO THE DEVIL. The ROYAL CROWN signifies SIN WHICH RULED OVER THE WORLD. The WHITE CLOTH OR SHEER, CONTAINING TWELVES SCROLLS, SYMBOLIZE THE TEACHING OF THE TWELVE THAT USHERED LIGHT INTO THE WORLD. THE HOLY TRADITION OF THE CHURCH HOLDS THAT THE APOSTLES CARRIED THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL TO ALL PARTS OF THE INHABITED WORLD.
Saint Athanasios states: "Let us keep feat on the holy day of Pentecost–on that which was at one time to the Jews, typically, the Feast of Weeks, in which they granted FORGIVENESS AND SETTLEMENT OF DEBTS; and indeed that day was one of deliverance in every respect. Let us keep the feast ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE GREAT WEEK, AS A SYMBOL OF THE WORLD TO COME, IN WHICH WE HERE RECEIVE A PLEDGE THAT WE SHALL HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE HEREAFTER. Then, having passed hence, we shall keep a perfect feast with Christ, while we cry out and say, like the Saints: ‘For I myself shall go through to the place of the wonderful Tabernacle, as far as the House of God, with a voice of rejoicing and thanksgiving, of the sound of those keeping festivals" [Psalm 41:4]; whence pain and sorrow and sighing have fled, and upon our heads, gladness and joy shall have come to us! May WE BE JUDGED WORTHY TO BE PARTAKERS IN THESE THINGS!
"Let us remember the poor, and not forget kindness to strangers, above all, let us LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL, AND MIGHT, AND STRENGTH, AND OUR NEIGHBOR AS OURSELVES. So may we receive those things which the eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, which, God has prepared for those THAT LOVE HIM, THROUGH HIS ONLY SON, OUR LORD, AND SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST! GLORY AND DOMINION BE TO THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND FOREVER AND EVER! AMEN. Salute one another with a kiss. All the brethren who are with me salute you!
By the intercessions of the Holy Apostles
O Christ Our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
[Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]
"Glory Be To GOD