This Sunday (May 23), the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of Pentecost (Hokekalousd), the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and the birth of the Church. Jesus had commanded His apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Recognizing the difficulty of this great responsibility, Christ had advised his disciples not to begin their teaching mission until after the “descent of the Holy Spirit.”
In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that on that day of Pentecost the apostles gathered in one place, and suddenly a strong wind seemed to fill the house in which they were assembled, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit (see reading above). It was the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shabuoth) commemorating the giving of the law on Mount Sinai and many different people from different lands had come to Jerusalem. They marveled that they could understand the Apostles’ words. This day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles marked the beginning of the mission of the Church to spread the Good News throughout the world.
In a sense, Pentecost is the opposite of what occurred in the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel when God disapproved of the building of a tower to reach the heavens and he created confusion by having the workers suddenly speak in different tongues, and unable to understand each other. At Pentecost He gave the disciples the ability to speak other tongues and thus be able to be understood by everyone everywhere.
Life-creating God, lover of mankind Spirit, with tongues of fire you enlightened those assembled in unity and love; therefore, we also celebrate today your holy descent.
Filled with joy by your coming, the Holy Apostles began in different-sounding tongues to call into unity them that had been divided from each other; therefore, we also celebrate today your holy descent.
By spiritual and holy baptism, through them you have adorned the universe with a new and radiant garment; therefore, we also celebrate your holy descent.
(From the Canon for the First Day of Pentecost according to the Liturgical Canons of the Armenian Church)