Synaxarion for the Pentecost Sunday.
On this day, the eighth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the day of Holy Pentecost.
We have also taken the celebration of this feast from the Jews. Their celebration of Pentecost was both in honor of the number seven as well as in remembrance of the fact that they received the Law fifty days after the Passover. Thus we also celebrate fifty days after Pascha, receiving the One who gives us the Law, the most Holy Spirit, who guides us in all truth and teaches us what is pleasing to God. It should also be known that among the Jews were three great feasts: Passover, Pentecost; and the Feast of the Tabernacles. Passover was in remembrance of passing through the Red Sea, for the name of the feast itself is one of “passing.” That feast prefigured our own Pascha, which is the passing and returning from the darkness of sin to Paradise.
The second feast celebrated by the Jews, Pentecost, was a reminder of their sufferings in the desert and the hardships through which they passed in order to reach the Promised Land. It was only after these hardships that they could taste the fruits, the wheat and the wine. For us, however, Pentecost shows the departure from the wickedness of unbelief and the entrance into the Church so that we may commune of the Body and Blood of the Master. Many say that Pentecost is celebrated among the Jews in honor of the fact that the holy Prophet Moses fasted fifty days before receiving the God-written Law and the many other events that occurred as he ascended and descended Mount Sinai. Some hold that the Jews celebrated Pentecost for the reasons shown above; others, however, feel that Pentecost was established by the Jews according to the honor given to the number seven, as we have mentioned. This number, multiplied by itself, comes to one less than fifty. The honor that the Jews gave to Pentecost depends not only upon the number of days, but also on the number of years, for this decided the years of the celebration of the Jubilee, named the Time of Forgiveness, or Release, which fell every fifty years. On that year, they would leave the earth fallow and allow the animals to rest, and any slaves who were purchased at a price were given freedom to leave. (See Lev. 25.)
The third feast was the Feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated after the harvest, taking place five months after the feast of Passover. This feast was established as a remembrance of the day on which the holy Prophet Moses, while on Mt. Sinai, first beheld the tent in a cloud before it was built and prepared by the chief carpenter Bezaleel. Since this feast celebrated the making of the tabernacle or tent, those who lived in the countryside constructed tabernacles of vines and branches in the fields, dwelling in them and giving thanks to God for bringing forth the fruits of their labors. This feast also commemorated the forty years the Jews spent in the wilderness living in tents. It is believed that the holy Prophet David also wrote the Psalms of Ascents for these days.
This feast prefigures our resurrection from the dead; after the tents of our bodies are destroyed, they will be refashioned, and we will then taste of the fruits of our efforts, celebrating in the eternal tabernacles.
It is fitting that we also know that on this day, the feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Disciples of the Lord. Since the Holy Fathers have decided to separate these feasts because of the greatness of the most Holy and Life-giving Spirit who is One of the Holy and Life-creating Trinity, we will speak tomorrow about the manner in which the Holy Spirit came.
We should know that due to the dignity of this great feast, and due to the glory, honor, and worship we render to the Holy, Consubstantial, Life-Creating and Undivided Trinity, the following week is fast free.
Through the prayers of the Holy Apostles,
О Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.
The Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and the Pentecostarion, ed. Fr David (Kidd) and Mother Gabriella (Ursache), Rives Junction, MI: HDM, 1999, pp. 232-234.