Homily: Pentecost Sunday Year A
Appreciating the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (A) - In Our Times ...
Fr. Udoekpo, Michael Ufok
v Acts 2:1-11
v 1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Gal 5:16-25
v John 20:19-23 or John 15:26-27; 16:12-15
In the past weeks we celebrated the joy of Christ’s resurrection and ascension. Today [even in this time of ongoing pandemic, uncertainties and violence in our communities] we celebrate Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit promised to us by Christ came upon his church. After Easter, it is the second most important day in the life of the church. And it is a popular day for the sacrament of confirmation. Some of us were confirmed on this day with a package of spiritual gifts, including peace, the Holy Spirit of unity, and courage. These are expressed in our way or the other in today’s scriptures.
In today’s Gospel we are told: “When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ . . . ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ ” (John 20:19-23). You might wonder why the disciples were afraid. Why had they locked themselves up? What were they afraid of? Perhaps they were afraid of persecution and violence. They were insecure and lived in fear. They were wrapped up in and held captive by fear and uncertainty.
Today [in the Twenty first century], many of us live in fear for one reason or the other. We still do have our own anxieties and worries. We are still being surrounded by and wrapped up in daily problems [pandemic, terrorism, racism, poverty, discrimination, division, injustices and violence] and all kinds of uncertainties. Jesus, as we saw in the Gospel, has the solution to these problems. He is the source and conduit of peace, freedom, and liberty, and the breath that ushers in the Holy Spirit of love and evangelization.
Like the Gospel, the Acts of the Apostles records that as soon as the disciples had received this Holy Spirit, they were heard speaking in different languages (Acts 2:1-11). It is amazing to see what difference the Holy Spirit brings us. With it, we hear Christ well and we have the courage to share what we have heard or received from Christ with others. Of course, Christ speaks to us in our language and in our own cultures and uncertainties. He visits us in our homes, on our chairs, in our beds, and in every circumstance of our lives: poverty and illnesses. And we need the gift of the Holy Spirit even to appreciate Christ’s presence in our lives. We need the Spirit to listen to one another’s music and language, and appreciate the talents and blessings that each of our neighbors brings us. We need the Holy Spirit to bring Christ to our neighbors and neighborhoods.
Finally, in the second reading, if I may return to that, Paul recommends the gifts of the Spirit for the troubled and divided Corinthian church. Although Corinth was booming in a material sense, its inhabitants were full of themselves. The Corinthians were arrogant, corrupt, and displayed rivalry among themselves. They rivaled for power, money and possessions. Division was apparent even in worship centers. Paul uses the analogy of a unified body composed of different parts to remind the Corinthian church of the importance of the unity of the church, the Body of Christ. I am sure this sounds familiar. Paul might have been addressing us today. Irrespective of our color, height, size, or looks, we are one in Christ, in whom we were all baptized.
The significance of Pentecost cannot be overemphasized in a world plagued by division, war, racism, distrust, and discrimination. Only Christ and the Spirit of God can change or refresh the face of the earth. Only Christ and the Spirit of God can give us the courage to share the good news and God’s given gifts with others.
We pray at this Mass [where ever you are virtually] that the Spirit of the Lord, which Pentecost brings, may restore unity, peace on earth and replace sickness [of this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic] with good health and sorrow with joy in the world.
1. In the midst of ongoing pandemic and uncertainties in our communities how do you relate to today’s readings and celebration?
2. How often do you appreciate the role of Holy Spirit in your life?
3. Do you allow all that you do to be guided by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including dialogue and unity?