Monday, May 24, 2010

Pentecost and the Ten Commandments

In other posts, I've mentioned the connection between the Old Testament and the New in regard to the mysteries of the Rosary. The Third Glorious Mystery, The Descent of the Holy Spirit, is no exception.  With the celebration of Pentecost fresh in our minds, this is a good time to delve a little deeper into the mystery.

We think of Pentecost as a Christian celebration, but it actually goes all the way back to the days of Moses.  Pentecost means "fiftieth" or "50 days," and Moses received the Law, or Ten Commandments, on Mount Sinai fifty days after the Israelites fled Egypt on the night of the Passover. (Exodus Chapters 12-13 and Exodus Chapter 34)  After that year, the Israelites celebrated Pentecost every year, giving thanks to God for the first fruits of the harvest.

It is no coincidence, then, that the Descent of the Holy Spirit occurred on the day of the annual Pentecost feast in Jerusalem.  We celebrate this day as the "Birthday of the Church," because the New Law was proclaimed by Peter and the Apostles, who were literally on fire with the Spirit.  This New Law is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law given to Moses on that first Pentecost thousands of years earlier.

Our Christian feast of Pentecost also ties in with the Jewish firstfruit concept of the ancient Pentecost feasts.  St. Paul states in 1 Cor 15:20-25),

"But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet."

As we celebrate the "Birthday of the Church," we look, filled with hope, to the day when our resurrected bodies will rejoice in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Related links:
The Roots of Pentecost
About Pentecost Sunday
Pentecost: The Birthday of the Church


Anonymous said...

It is significant in that Third Glorious Mystery that Mary is there with the newly born church. She, the "House of God, Gate of Heaven, and Help of Christians", is the model of the church. There is just no end to God's gift in Mary. Thanks for this wonderful blog that is an inspiration every day.

Peggy Bowes said...

Thank you, Anon! Mary's role in the Third Glorious Mystery is the topic of a future blog post. The Rosary Mysteries are so deep with meaning, that one can't get it all in with a single blog post, let alone a lifetime! Thank you for some added inspiration today.