Brothers and sisters: We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:22
The celebration of Pentecost brings to mind the Holy Spirit, tongues as of fire, flowing red banners with images of swooping white doves, and an end to Easter season. The paschal candle returned now to the baptismal font.
Yet Pentecost is not so much an end of the Easter season as a culmination of the entire Easter promise – that we share in the resurrection of Christ. That we have the firstfruits of God’s harvest.
At the Vigil Mass of Pentecost Sunday, we hear in Paul’s letter to the Romans that we – those baptized into the life of Christ – already have the “firstfruits of the Spirit.” The reference to “firstfruits” (Leviticus 23:4-14) is from the Israelite’s celebration of Pentecost. The Jewish feast of Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks, came fifty days after Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first fruit of the harvest was an offering to God and a symbol that the entire harvest of the coming season was dedicated to God. The priest was to “wave” the first sheaf of the harvest (Leviticus 23:11).
For Christians today, we already “have the firstfruits of the promise.” The firstfruits is the promise that by being united with Christ in baptism, we share in his resurrection and glorification. This is the wonder of the paschal mystery in which we participate and in which we magnificently celebrated at the Easter Vigil. So then, fifty days later at Pentecost, we wave the sheaf of that promise and of the hope of what is still to come. At our Pentecost feast, we proclaim our belief in the fullness of redemption – embodied in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Christ has been raised, and the Spirit now fills us so completely that we groan within ourselves and cannot help but go out waving our sheaves and proclaiming the Risen Christ with our lives.