The Week Leading up to… Sunday, June 23, 2013

Holy Pentecost – The Descent of the Holy Spirit

PentecostMaronite depiction of Pentecost (from www.maronite-heritage.com)

Services (etc.) This Week:

  • Wednesday, June 19th, 5:30 pm: Great Compline with Akathist to Saints Peter and Paul
  • Thursday, June 20th, 6:00 pm: Choir Practice
  • Saturday, June 22nd: Great Vespers, 5:00  pm
  • Sunday, June 23rd: Third Hour, 9:45 am, followed by The Divine Liturgy at 10:00 am

Saints Commemorated today: Martyr Agrippina of Rome (early Church – Roman); Righteous Artemius of Verkola (Russia); St Herman the Archbishop of Kazan (Russia); Martyrs Eustochius, Gaius, Probus, Lollia, and Urban of Ancyra (early Church- Roman Empire, Asia Minor)

[Click above to read about these saints and about Holy Pentecost, from oca.org]

Blessed art thou, O Christ our God,

who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise,

having sent upon them the Holy Spirit,

and through them thou hast fished the universe,

O Lover of mankind, glory to thee.

+ + + + + + + + + + + +

When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, he divided the nations;

but when he distributed the tongues of fire, he called all to unity, and with one voice, we glorify the all-holy Spirit.

A REFLECTION

On the great feast of Holy Pentecost, the Church celebrates the ancient, the new, and the continuing manifestation of God in His creation, and also the continuity of God’s action in His world, in the history of His people, in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples (including Mary, the Theotokos, and the women disciples of Christ), and the re-creation and generation of each of us, of one another, and of all the Cosmos. Christ had promised to send The Paraclete to His followers after He had finished His saving work on earth: teaching, healing, suffering, dying, rising again, and then ascending to His Father. The Holy Spirit, of course, had always been in existence, being one of the three distinct but united persons of the Holy Trinity, acting throughout and beyond the aeons of time and space, together with the Father and the Son, “ever existing and eternally the same”.

This “Great Fiftieth Day” (the word “Pentecost” comes from the Greek term Pentēkostē, meaning “fiftieth,” and was used in New Testament times to name the feast of the Hebrew people – now known in Judaism as Shavuot– the Feast of Weeks, a feast  remembering and celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This festival counted a “week of weeks,” or 49 days, beginning on the second day of Passover (Pascha). The fiftieth day after the rising of Christ from the dead thus corresponded with a holy day in which the special relationship of God with His people was (and, is) remembered each year. The appearing of the tongues of fire descending on the disciples at this time showed that a new covenant, promised by Jesus and by the prophets, a continuation and a renewal of God’s relationship with humanity, was beginning on that day.

Saint Basil, writing in the Fourth Century A.D., wrote a book “On the Holy Spirit.” Much of this work involves the nature of the Holy Spirit, stemming from the many controversies, disputes, and hotly-debated definitions of his day. In emphasizing the the Holy Spirit was and is always present, Saint Basil writes:

It is, at all events, possible for us to arrive to a certain extent at intelligent apprehension of the sublimity of His nature and of His unapproachable power, by looking at the meaning of His title, and at the magnitude of His operations, and by His good gifts bestowed on us , or rather on all creation.  He is called Spirit, as “God is a Spirit,” and “the breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord.” He is called holy, as the Father is holy, and the Son is holy, for to the creature holiness was brought in from without, but to the Spirit holiness is the fulfillment of nature, and it is for this reason that He is described not as being sanctified, but as sanctifying.  He is called good, as the Father is good, and He who was begotten of the Good is good, and to the Spirit His goodness is essence.  He is called upright, as “the Lord is upright,” in that He is Himself truth, and is Himself Righteousness, having no divergence nor leaning to one side or to the other, on account of the immutability of His substance.  He is called Paraclete, like the Only begotten, as He Himself says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another comforter.” Thus names are borne by the Spirit in common with the Father and the Son, and He gets these titles from His natural and close relationship.  From what other source could they be derived?  Again He is called royal, Spirit of truth, and Spirit of wisdom. “The Spirit of God,” it is said “hath made me,” and God filled Bezaleel with “the divine Spirit of wisdom and understanding and knowledge.” Such names as these are super-eminent and mighty, but they do not transcend His glory.

Today, on Pentecost, we again praise and celebrate “God-with-Us”, from eternity, to eternity, the Holy Spirit, in the Unity of the One God in Trinity. Now as in the Upper Room and as throughout the history of the people of Israel and as since before the very foundation of the world, God Is With Us!

– (l.r.c.)

THE EPISTLE

Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11

Prokeimenon. Mode 4. 
Psalm 18.4,1: Their voice has gone out into all the earth.
                                  The heavens declare the glory of God.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

THE GOSPEL

The Gospel of John 7:37-52; 8:12

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So there was a division among the people over him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

Scripture passages, ESV, from www.esvonline.org;

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