In the Acts of the Apostle’s account of Pentecost Sunday, we see a list of the peoples gathered in Jerusalem. There were Parthians, Medes, Elamites and other groups of strangers filling the streets of Jerusalem. Their reason for congregating came from Pentecost’s having been an important pre-Christian anniversary for the surrounding nations as well as for the Jews. .
First, for farming people in the Middle East, Pentecost had been their Thanksgiving Day. From 5000 B.C. they had been planting their wheat at the last full moon of Autumn, and making unleavened cakes with the first grains on the night of the first full moon of spring. Then, for fifty days after that they worked from sunup to sundown to gather in the harvest before the coming of heavy spring rains. On the fiftieth day, on Pentecost, they finished their harvest. They ate their full, and they had their weddings.
For the Jews, Pentecost was the anniversary of their becoming the Chosen People. Back 1250 years earlier, their ancestors in Egypt had eaten their first Passover meal. Then, they had walked speedily down to the base of the Sinai peninsula, and it was on the fiftieth day after their first Passover, that they had become the Chosen People at the foot of Mount Sinaiby entering into their covenant with God.
When the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles exactly fifty days after the Last Supper, they burst out into the street, speaking with such convincing eloquence that they astounded the people. They declared that they were witnesses of God’s wonderful works. I have always like the sound of that phrase in Latin where the wonderful works of God becomes the Magnalia Dei.