Homily(3) Pentecost Sunday Year B (Mass during the Day): Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 103; I Cor 12:2-3, 12-13 and John 20:19-20.
The Role of the Holy Spirit in our lives
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost, 50 days after the celebration of Easter- the resurrection of Christ. The Jews celebrated this feast 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. There have been many harvests in our lives!
For us, today marks the end of the Easter Season and commemorates the day that the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and on the Church. We are celebrating the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christian men, women and children. We need this gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives today more than ever, in order for us to be able to function as true Christians and agents of evangelization without fear and intimidation, despair, quarrel, discrimination and desire for vengeance, bigotry, division and unhealthy competition.
I remember when I was a kid between the ages of 4-10. I always wanted to hold onto my mum whom I loved and depended on. I always cried, sad and disturbed the whole neighborhood each time my mother would leave me at home to go the grocery store or to the local market for shopping. Sometimes we do feel the same each time somebody we love is about to leave us.
The Apostles felt the same – they were sad when Jesus indicated last week, in the reading of the Solemnity of Ascension that he was leaving to go to the Father. But, he promised them the Holy Spirit.
Recall, the same Holy Spirit was important even throughout the ministry of Jesus. Remember at his baptism the Spirit descended upon Jesus and named him as he beloved son of the Father. At the beginning of his public ministry in Luke chapter 4, Jesus invoked the prophecy of Isa 61- “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….” It was this same Spirit of the Lord that raised Jesus from the dead, and enabled him ascends to the Father.
Just as it was not easy for me when my mum would leave me home momentarily to get to the store for groceries or for any us to lose a dear one, the Bible Readings of today from Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s Letter to the Corinthian and the Gospel of John not only present us with the challenges that face the early Christian community after the Ascension of Jesus.
St. Luke tells us in Acts of the Apostles how the persecuted and frightened and 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 the Holy Spirit that enables the Apostles to face with love and patience the ridicule, the rejection they had to deal with after the ascension of Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit that enables them to be understood by people of all nations listed in today’s first reading. The Spirit of unity.
We need this spirit of God (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord) to deal with the challenges that face us today in our families, in the society, in schools, offices, and places of work, in our nations as followers of Christ.
Some of these challenges you know better than I do may include, division, discrimination, quarrels, pride, boasting, abusing our gifts and selfishness in our homes and in politics and in our communities. These are some the problems that St. Paul was addresses in the early Corinthian Church, of the 2nd reading.
For Paul in Baptism we are all one body in Christ. 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. You can't say your next door neighbor or the next person on your left or right is not important. Everyone 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, apostles, prophets, etc . But usually what this spirit brings should be joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22ff).
This is the Spirit that Jesus breathed on the Apostles on the evening of that Easter Sunday in today’s Gospel. It is the Spirit of peace, shalom, wholeness to be agents of evangelization and forgiveness.
Let us pray at this Mass for the gift of the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives so that we may constantly not only feel the presence of God, his peace and joy in our lives, but be able to willingly share it with our neighbors.