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The Birthday of the Church
The Vine and the Branches
Everything was very quiet in the Upper Room at Jerusalem. For nine days the Blessed Mother and the Apostles had been staying together with other friends of Jesus, watching and praying. Jesus had ascended into heaven. How lonely they must have been without Him! But he had told them to watch and pray until He would send them the Holy Ghost. And so they prayed and waited. All at once there was a rushing sound, as if a strong wind were whirling through the air. Then softly, gently, came flames like tongues of fire from above, and rested over the
heads of those who were gathered in the Upper Room. Jesus had kept His promise. The Holy Ghost had come. “Did you hear that noise?” asked the people in the city. “What do you suppose it is?” And they ran to the house from which the rushing sound seemed to come.
Ever since Jesus had been crucified, the Apostles were afraid to show themselves, for fear that they, too, would be killed. But now that the Holy Ghost was with them, everything was different. Now they had courage to face the whole world. The doors of the Upper Room were unlocked and the Apostles went out to speak to the people. And as they spoke, a strange thing happened. The many visitors who were at Jerusalem at this time spoke different languages. There were people from Arabia and Asia, from Egypt and Rome. And yet, no one had to ask what the Apostles were saying. Each one understood the words of the Apostles, for “Every man heard them speak in his own tongue.” That was the work of the Holy Ghost. He gave to the Apostles the gift of tongues and to the people who listened the grace to understand. But as always when someone tries to do good, there were men who laughed at the Apostles.
They said that the Apostles were drunk and did not know what they were talking about. Then Peter raised his hand and began to speak. “Men of Judea,” he said, “these men are not drunk, as you say; for it is still early in the day. But the Lord has poured His spirit over them, as He promised the prophet Joel many years ago. And now listen to my words: Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, rose again from the dead. We ourselves saw Him go up into Heaven. Today He sent down the Holy Ghost upon us. He will also send His spirit over you, if you will turn to Him and believe in Him.” Many Jews were deeply touched by the words of Peter. “What shall we do?” they asked. “Do penance and be baptized,” answered the Apostle. And 3,000 people were baptized that same day. That visit of the Holy Ghost was the beginning of the Church or the Birthday of the Church. It is called the feast of Pentecost. The people who were baptized were the lambs of the fold; the Apostles were their shepherds. They took care of them and taught them all that Jesus had told them to teach. Peter was their visible leader. He watched over the lambs and sheep of the flock.