PENTECOST SUNDAY, May 31, 1998
First Reading: Acts 2: 1-11
Psalms: Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29-31, 34
Second Reading 1 Corinthians 12: 2-7, 12-13
Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-23
SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST: DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Solemn Feast of Pentecost is regarded as the "Birthday of the Church" for the Holy Spirit began His perpetual presence with Holy Mother Church at this occasion recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. In Acts 2:38, Saint Peter reminds us of this new Covenant when he says, "You must reform and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, that your sins may be forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The passages in 1 Corinthians 3: 16; 6: 9-20, Romans 5:5; 8: 26-27; and 2 Thessalonians 2: 13-14 show us how it is only through the Holy Spirit that we can profit by and fulfill the necessary duties that pave the way to salvation in the Church. The name Pentecost is derived from the fact that it is celebrated 50 days after Easter, ten days after the Ascension. Originally the name, whose etimology comes from the Greek pentekoste, was attributed to the Jewish Feast of Weeks which occurred 50 days after the Passover. With the New Covenant Pentecost was forever associated with the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Christ's chosen Church.
(Though it is not officially celebrated today because it is superceded by Pentecost, May 31 is the traditional Feast of the Visitation which we also highlight below.)
FEAST OF THE VISITATION OF MARY TO HER COUSIN ELIZABETH
The Visitation of Mary, the Second Joyful Mystery, commemorates the account in Luke 1: 39-45, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary travels to meet and assist her pregnant cousin Elizabeth who is carrying her son John the Baptist in her womb. Both women, with child greet one another in a spirit of genuine love and caring. We get the significance of this union when we read that "the baby [John] leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!'" This last phrase means, in the Hebrew idiom: "More blessed art thou than any other woman on earth." Elizabeth's joyous greeting and faith in the Lord though she did not physically see the Christ child sets a precedence for Christ's words later in John 6: 40 and John 20: 29 - "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." The meeting of the two also prompted the renowned words in which Our Lady proclaims the glories of God while asserting her humble fiat before the Almighty One in the Magnificat.