02 June 2017

The Feast of Pentecost

Pentecost in the Old and New Testament: through Father Alessandro's words, we will understand how this Jewish holiday has become the great Christian Feast of Pentecost.

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Mount Zion is one of the most sacred places in Christianity: on this western hilltop of Jerusalem stands the Cenacle, to which 3 evangelical memories are linked: the establishment of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, the appearances of the Risen Lord and Pentecost.

In grafica
Acts: Lc 2, 2-4
when suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of a violent wind which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak different languages as the Spirit gave them power to express themselves.>

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"What does this initial sentence: “When Pentecost day came round" mean? In fact - it was just 9 in the morning - as Peter will say a few lines later. So, what is this passage referring to? It is not referring to the day of Pentecost, but to the time of Pentecost; because Pentecost, was a Jewish festival, before it became a Christian Feast that commemorates the episode of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the apostles gathered in the room of the Cenacle."

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"And what did the Pentecost Feast commemorate then? Why was the Holy Spirit poured out on the Apostles, on the rising church, precisely on that day?
To understand this, we must refer to the Old Testament, to the passages in which God commands the people of Israel to celebrate this festival. In Exodus 23, verse 14, we can read about the institution, the feast and God's command to Moses to celebrate this feast: <.......three times a year you will celebrate in my honor, you will observe the feast of the unleavened bread, that is, the feast of Easter - and at verse 16 - you will observe the feast of Harvest or Pentecost, that is, the first fruits of your sowing works in the fields, and then at the end of the year the feast of Booths or Tabernacles.>”

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"So, we are talking about three feasts: the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost and later the Feast of the Booths at the end of the year. At that time, these three feasts commanded by God to the people of Israel, were probably celebrated with three pilgrimages to local sanctuaries. They were farm holidays.”

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"This feast is associated with the end of harvesting time: the feast of barley is a feast linked to the first barley that was reaped; the celebration of the shavout - that is, the Feasts of Weeks - the Feast of Pentecost, that is, 7 weeks plus one day, or Pentecostes, in Greek the 50th day after Easter, essentially indicates the end of this harvest time of Wheat and cereals in general.”

In grafica
LEVITICUS 23: 15-22


Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
“But this passage of the Leviticus brings to mind a connection between the Feast and the norms of a social nature, that is, a link between harvesting and also a reminder to leave something for the poor.....not reaping it to the edges of the field, so that the poor can freely use the gleanings of the fields.
So the Shavout Holiday (Feast of the Weeks, Feast of Pentecost) in ancient Israel is also a celebration of a great social event.
This social innovation is further amplified in Deuteronomy (...)”

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"The feast must also be enjoyed by the socially poor categories: orphans, widows, foreigners, Levites - who do nothing but sacrifice for the Lord. All these socially weak categories are taken into account as the subject of this celebration, and Deuteronomy adds:
In Exodus and perhaps even in Leviticus, this might seem like a feast linked to a local sanctuary, to harvesting in the countryside and gathering in a sanctuary located within the territory of Israel to offer the first fruits. According to the book of Deuteronomy, this offer must be made only within the Temple of Jerusalem.”

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"Today in Judaism, the Feast of Pentecost is not so much linked to an agricultural rite, the rite of cereal harvesting, but rather to the gift of the law given on Mount Sinai."

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"The law in Israel also protected those categories of poor people we talked about before: orphans, widows, foreigners, Levites, etc. So, somehow, there is a link. The Feast of Pentecost has become the festival in which the law is donated to Israel so that Israel not only offers an act of thanksgiving to God for the good harvest and harvest success, but also never forgets the law that invites us to share the fruits of the earth with those who are next to us and who are socially weak. "

"The fall of the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem led to a gradual abandonment of this holy place which remained uninhabited until 1333.
During that year, the kings of Naples, Sancha di Majorca and Roberto D'Angiò, regained the room of the Cenacle and built a small monastery for the Friars Minor beside it.This became officially the first home of the Custody of the Holy Land.
The friars, however, remained there until the middle of the 1500s, when they were expelled by the Turks. "

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"Why does the Holy Spirit descend on the apostles precisely on this Jewish festival, precisely on Pentecost? Because the Holy Spirit is the new Christian law. Christians, according to the indications of the Prophets in the Old Testament, no longer needed a law written on stone tablets, such as the law delivered on the Sinai to Moses, but would have the Law of God written by God's finger on their Heart, and God's finger (Digitus Dei, one of Pentecost's sequences) is just the Spirit. The Spirit came to write on the heart of the apostles and of the primitive Christian community, of the nascent church, of the new law of Christians which is essentially a law of love, thus a law of sharing with the poor, a law of concern for the socially weak.”

Fr. ALESSANDRO CONIGLIO, ofm
Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"Here's how this Jewish Pentecost Feast has turned into the great Christian Feast of Pentecost during which we also commemorate a rendering of thanks to God for all His gifts, especially the gift of the new law that the Spirit has written in our hearts. We want this gift to be returned to the Spirit, we want this gift to be given not only to us but to reach and benefit all people on earth.”