The Holy Spirit Gives Peace
The Feast of Holy Pentecost, celebrated today, is also called “Whitsunday,” or “White Sunday.” This is a reference to the white robes of the newly baptized historically worn on this day. Yet, the liturgical color for today is red, the color of the Holy Spirit, taken from the fire that lit on the heads of the Eleven as the Spirit came. Pentecost is among the oldest observances of the Christian Church. As the second greatest Feast of Christendom, Whitsunday or Pentecost ranks only behind Easter in the Church's “Year of Grace.” Pentecost was observed as an Octave, meaning that the Feast took liturgical precedence over the subsequent seven days, as early as the 5th century A.D.
Following the flood, Noah’s descendants failed to spread out and fill the earth as God had spoken. Rather, they exalted themselves; with “one language and the same words” (Gen. 11:1) they spoke proudly and arrogantly. The Lord humbled them by confusing “the language of all the earth,” dividing and dispersing the people (Gen. 11:9). That dispersal was reversed on Pentecost Day (the fiftieth day of Easter), when God caused the one Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to be preached in a multitude of languages. “At this sound the multitude came together” (Acts 2:6), for the preaching of Christ is the primary work of the Holy Spirit, whereby He gathers people from all nations into one Church. The Holy Spirit teaches and brings to our remembrance the words of Jesus, which are the words of the Father who sent Him. These words bestow forgiveness and peace to those who keep and hold on to them in love for Jesus. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27).
"I will pour out my Spirit." God’s Old Testament people celebrated the gathering of the harvest at the Festival of Weeks, or the Festival of Pentecost. In the New Testament, God sent the promised Counselor on the day we call “Pentecost,” Greek for “fifty,” because he sent the Holy Spirit fifty days after the Resurrection. This day marked the birthday of the New Testament Church and celebrates the harvest of souls won by the Son and gathered by his servants empowered by his Spirit.
Pentecost is the third great festival (Nativity, Resurrection, Pentecost) of the Church and has been commemorated since at least 217 A.D. The Church dresses in red to remind us of the tongues of fire that marked the Spirit’s gift and the blood of the martyrs which was the seed of the Church. This day culminates the Season of Easter when our risen Lord now empowers his people to be witnesses of the resurrection for the world.