Fifty days, or seven weeks, after the Feast of Easter, the Jewish people celebrate the feast of Pentecost, from the Greek πεντηκοστη, which means “fiftieth.” The feast is also known by its Hebrew name Shavuot שבועו)), which means “weeks,” referring to the seven weeks that separate it from Easter.
The feast of Pentecost commemorates the day in which God, seven weeks after rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, appeared on Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments (the Torah). On that day, God transformed a group of slaves into his people by establishing a covenant with them. We can find in the book of Exodus the account: “There was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire, the smoke went out like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.” (Ex 19:16-18)
The occurrence is strikingly similar to what happened with Mary and the apostles 50 days after the resurrection of Christ. They were together in a room, when suddenly a mighty wind blasted the house, shaking it, and fire appeared that divided and rested on each of them. It was the new Pentecost, the day in which God manifested himself again–as on Mount Sinai.
Only this time, God did not intend to speak exclusively to the Israelites. Instead he separated from the Israelites a small group—the twelve apostles. He filled them with the power of his Spirit so they could spread the Good News to all the nations of the world–the news that God had established in Christ a New Covenant to which everyone, Jews and non-Jews, are invited. As a sign, God gave his apostles the gift of tongues, so that all people could hear them speaking in their own languages. They could welcome the Good News and receive in themselves the same Holy Spirit and become children of God. Thus, the prophecies of old were fulfilled: “In the last days–the Lord declares–I shall pour out my spirit on all humanity.” (Acts: 2:17)
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña