Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Feast of Mid-Pentecost

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Icon of Christ preaching in the Temple: the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, from Decani Monastery (taken from:
Reading (taken from:
"After the Saviour had miraculously healed the paralytic, the Jews, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, were moved with envy and persecuted Him, and sought to slay Him, using the excuse that He did not keep the Sabbath, since He worked miracles on that day. Jesus then departed to Galilee. About the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, He went up again to the Temple and taught. The Jews, marvelling at the wisdom of His words, said, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" But Christ first reproached their unbelief and lawlessness, then proved to them by the Law that they sought to slay Him unjustly, supposedly as a despiser of the Law, since He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath. Therefore, since the things spoken by Christ in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles are related to the Sunday of the Paralytic that is just passed, and since we have already reached the midpoint of the fifty days between Pascha and Pentecost, the Church has appointed this present feast as a bond between the two great feasts, thereby uniting, as it were, the two into one, and partaking of the grace of them both. Therefore today's feast is called Mid-Pentecost, and the Gospel Reading, "At Mid-feast"--though it refers to the Feast of Tabernacles--is used.

Christ, the Holy Wisdom, teaching in the Temple (
It should be noted that there were three great Jewish feasts: the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover was celebrated on the 15th of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, which coincides roughly with our March. This feast commemorated that day on which the Hebrews were commanded to eat the lamb in the evening and anoint the doors of their houses with its blood. Then, having escaped bondage and death at the hands of the Egyptians, they passed through the Red Sea to come to the Promised Land. It is also called "the Feast of Unleavened Bread," because they ate unleavened bread for seven days. Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the Passover, first of all, because the Hebrew tribes had reached Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt, and there received the Law from God; secondly, it was celebrated to commemorate their entry into the Promised Land, where also they ate bread, after having been fed with manna forty years in the desert. Therefore, on this day they offered to God a sacrifice of bread prepared with new wheat. Finally, they also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 22nd of "the seventh month," which corresponds roughly to our September. During this time, they live in booths made of branches in commemoration of the forty years they spent in the desert, living in tabernacles, that is, tents (Ex. 12:10-20; Lev. 23)."

Finally, it is worth noting that the Great Church of Hagia Sophia (The Church of the Holy Wisdom) in Constantinople celebrated its feast on the feast of Mid-Pentecost. (
Christ, the Holy Wisdom, teaching in the Temple (
Apolytikion of Mid-Pentecost in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Mid-way in the feast, refresh my thirsty soul with the flowing waters of piety. For You cried out to all, O Savior, "Let him who thirsts come to me and drink." You, O Christ our God, are the Fountain of Life, glory to You.
Kontakion. Mode 4. You who were lifted.
The feast according to the Law at its midpoint, O Christ our God, as the Creator and Master of everything, You said to all those who were present there, ╩║Come that you might draw from Me the water of immortality. ╩║ Hence with faith we cry to You as we prostrate before You. Your tender mercies grant to us, we pray. You are the fountain and source of our life, O Lord.
With the streams of Your blood water my soul parched by unlawful offences, and show it to be fruitful in virtue. For You have said to all, to approach You, all-holy Word of God, and to draw the water of incorruption, which is alive and washes away the sins of those who extol Your glorious and divine Resurrection. O Good One, You grant those who know You to be God the power of the Spirit that truly came down from on high to Your Disciples. You are the fountain and source of our life, O Lord.
Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs, bestowing life!
Truly the Lord is risen!

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