Friday, May 17, 2013

Homily Pentecost Sunday Year C (Mass during the Day): Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Pentecost Sunday Year C (Mass during the Day): Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24,29-30,31,34; I Cor 12:2-3b-7, or Rom 8:8-17 12-13 and John 20:19-23 or John 14:15-16,23b-26

The Role of our Spiritual Paracletos

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost, 50 days after the celebration of Easter- the resurrection of Christ. 50 days ordinarily or 50 anniversary of any of our chosen vocation is a lot and quite significant. The Jews celebrated 50 days after the Feast of Passover- thanking God for the gift of harvest as well for His Sinaitic Covenant with Moses which also occurs 50 days after the beginning of the Exodus in Egypt.

Today is significant for us and the Church. It marks the end of the Easter Season and commemorates the day that the Holy Spirit, the Advocate came upon the Apostles and the Church. Recall, at Christ’s baptism the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him, which he acknowledged at the beginning of his ministry.  He said, “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me. He has anointed me to bring Good news to the poor, and liberty to the captives….” This spirit guided Jesus throughout his ministry, raised him from the dead from the dead, and enabled him ascends to the Father, as we saw last week, on the Solemnity of Ascension.

But prior to this, as witnessed in the Gospel readings of today, particularly John 14, Jesus, says to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”

Jesus says this in John 14 because he knew as he had finished washing the feet of his disciples in John 13 he was nearing the end of his earthly mission. Moreover, his disciples were getting worried about the depature of Jesus. He knew they needed a Helper, the PARAKLETOS, and the Holy Spirit after he was gone. They will need “a lawyer” and “attorney”, “an advocate” to speak for them, supports them, strengthens them, and champions their cause after he was gone.

The gift of this PARAKLETOS, this lawyer, this spiritual guide and advocate(who watches our backs) is what we celebrate today. It was such an important gift for the early Church. St. Luke tells us in Acts of the Apostles how the persecuted and frightened  or post-ascension church could not really teach the mission of Jesus to the understanding of everyone from different tribes and culture until they had received the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the early church was filled with fear, wrangling, uncertainties and confusions.

It was this PARAKLETOS that enables the Apostles to face with love and patience the ridicule, the rejection they had to deal with after the ascension of Jesus. The  same Holyy Spirit t enables them to be understood by people of all nations listed in the first reading. It brings unity among many other gifts such as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. It’s a gift that heals our fears, wranglings, uncertainties and confusions.

During the time of St. Paul, evident in the 2nd reading, some of these challenges were there: division, discrimination, quarrels, pride, boasting, abuse of individual talents and selfishness. Hence, he invites his church to be one, and acts as different parts of our body would. This is what baptism should enable us, Christians to do. We become one in Christ, no matter our culture, nation and language. Paul, says, Just as the eye cannot say I don’t need the fingers or the nose, my legs or ears are not necessarily, we need one another in Christ.

As baptized Christians, its improper, to say or think that your next door neighbor or the next person on your left or right is not important. Every one is needed. All the gifts we have are important and we need your gifts to live in fullness with Christ.  None of us sitting here is a chance factor before God or is not gifted with one gift or another. We are all gifted. For Paul the sharing of these various spiritual gifts enriches the Church, since they all come from the same Spirit for the common good. In other words these gifts are meant for the common good, for the community.  They may reside in some of us informs of prophecy, teaching, administration, acts of charity, healing, speaking in tongues, apostleship and prophesies.

When we allow ourselves to be lead, watched-over, and  be advised by this PARAKLETOS, especially in a divided world of today, we reap the fruits joy, peace, forgives, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Gal 5:22ff).  

 And as we will soon say in the prayer over the offerings at this Mass, the hidden mystery of the sacrifice of Christ and what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century will be revealed to us, and we will be graciously led into all truth. The truth to love,  the truth to be charitable and help one another, the truth to be humble, the truth to forgive, the truth to believe, the truth persevere, the truth to be peaceful, and the truth to hope and to be joyful.