Pentecost Sunday

Have you ever wondered about your lucky number?

Seven is most people’s number. In common parlance to be the seventh son of a seventh son is to be lucky indeed.

Yet in the Bible 7 is a sacred number and it appears time and time again. It is not luck, or a charm or a superstition, but a convenient and indeed sacred way of marking time because the Lord rested on the 7th day. Other sevens include: the Ark of the Covenant was carried seven times around Jericho before the walls fell; David was the 7th son of Jesse. In the Gospel, Peter asked:'How many times must I forgive my brother? Seven times?', and the Lord answers - as if to say, more perfectly, 'seventy times seven'; Jesus multiplied 5 loaves and 2 fish; he multiplied 7 loaves among 4000 people; seven men of good repute were chosen in the Acts of the Apostles to serve as deacons, and so on.

In the Church we believe that there are 7 sacraments; seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; seven deadly sins.

'Pentecost' comes from a Greek word meaning 50th - today 7 weeks have elapsed since Easter, or seven time seven days.

It was a Jewish festival 50 days after the Passover and the giving of the Law to Moses. It is tied to a Jewish feast. 49 days (7 weeks, or “a week of weeks”) after the second day of Passover, the Jews celebrated the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). Passover celebrates the freeing of the Jews from slavery; Shavuot celebrates their becoming God’s holy people by the gift and acceptance of the Law; and the counting of the days to Shavuot symbolises their yearning for the Law.
From a strictly practical point of view, Shavuot was a very good time for the Holy Spirit to come down and inspire the Apostles to preach to all nations because, being a pilgrimage festival, it was an occasion when Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims from many countries.

Each of us has received 7 gifts from God - the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Do we know them?

They are Wisdom: Understanding; Counsel; Fortitude; Knowledge; Piety; Fear of the Lord.

They were given to us on Confirmation Day. But do we use them?

I often think that they are like our muscles - they need to be used, flexed, put to work. Otherwise they go limp, become flaccid, useless in us. If we think of taking up a new sport or form of exercise, we are stiff and sore after our first attempt. I will never forget how sore I was after my first try ever at water-skiiing! I was sore the following day in places I never thought possible. But it became easier with regular practice. It is the same with the Holy Spirit's gifts - we must value them and exercise them, but we must first pray that they may bear fruit in us through the practice of a virtuous life.

Come Holy Spirit!

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