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Feast of Pentecost: The Birth of the Church

One of the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord is the descending of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, known as Pentecost Day (Fiftieth day). On this day, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples as tongues of fire, through which they were able to speak in different tongues and preach the news entrusted to them by our Lord Jesus Christ. This gift is the promise of the Father to the human race. After the Son reconciled the Father with the human race by giving Himself up as a sacrifice on the Holy Cross, and after giving our human body the capability of living with God through His Ascension, God the Father poured on us the grace and blessings of the Holy Spirit, allowing us to live by the Spirit with God while we’re still on earth. The feast is called “the Feast of Pentecost (Arabic: Ansara),” a Hebrew word that means, “feast.” Originally this day was a Jewish feast, which was one of their three major feasts: the festival of weeks, the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year (cf. Ex. 34:22). On this day, the Jews thanked God for the ingathering, and they came from various countries around the world to Jerusalem for this feast (cf. Acts 2:5).

In the New Testament, the Church celebrates this day by commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples: “From heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts. 2:2-4). In the Dioscolia (chapter 31), it is written: “After ten days from the Ascension, let there be a great feast, for on this day, in the third hour, our Lord Jesus Christ sent us the Paraclete, and we were filled with His gifts and spoke in new tongues.” Also, in the Canons, it is written: “Do not work on Pentecost day, for the Holy Spirit descended on the believers through Christ.” This day commemorates the institution of the Church and its true beginning, and it marks the beginning of the true service and the preaching of the Apostles and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason, the day has a special place in the life and rites of the Church.

Source: St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, South St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

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