Jewish Pentecost and Catholic Pentecost Compared

The Catholic feast of Pentecost is the fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Pentecost instituted by God through Moses.

In Hebrew, it is the feast of Shavuot (“Weeks”) that occurred forty-nine days (seven weeks) after the Feast of Passover. Since it was the fiftieth day after Passover, it acquired the Greek name of Pentecost, meaning “fiftieth.”

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Pentecost marked the end of the grain harvest and designated a time of prosperity and joy. Moses stipulated that an offering of two loaves of bread be offered to God on this day as a sign of gratitude (Lev 23:15-21).

Just as Passover signified the liberty of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, the Feast of Pentecost signified the presentation of the Law to Israel through the prophet Moses.

This is paralleled in the Catholic Church by the Christian feast of Pentecost, which is exactly fifty days after Easter. This holy day recalls how Christ poured out the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the Church (Acts 2). Just as the Law was given to Israel on the feast of Pentecost, so the Spirit was given to the Church on the feast of Pentecost. For Catholics, the Jewish harvest theme is an allegory of the harvest of souls gathered in by the twelve Apostles of Christ.

My challenge for you is recall the gift of your sacramental Confirmation (your own personal Pentecost) and ask the Holy Spirit if you might be allowed to “bring in some of the harvest.” That is, ask the Holy Spirit to use you to bring a friend or family member into a true and abiding relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace.

Be the salt of the earth. Stay salty.

PS: Some of this post was previously published in my book on Judaism and Catholicism: The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. If you’ve already read Crucified Rabbi, I’d love to read your thoughts. Please leave a review here. Thanks so much!

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