DETAILED HOMILY FOR PENTECOST SUNDAY YEAR C
THEME: THE SPIRIT OF EMPOWERMENT
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JUNE 5 2022
R1 – Acts 2:1-11
R2 – Rom 8:8-17
John 14: 14-15; 23-26
An old beggar lay on his deathbed. His last words were to his young son who had been his constant companion during his begging trips. “Dear son,” he said, “I have nothing to give you except a cotton bag and a dirty bronze bowl which I got in my younger days from the junk yard of a rich lady.” After his father’s death, the boy continued begging, using the bowl his father had given him. One day a gold merchant dropped a coin in the boy’s bowl and he was surprised to hear a familiar ring. “Let me check your bowl,” the merchant said. To his great surprise, he found that the beggar’s bowl was made of pure gold. “My dear young man,” he said, “why do you waste your time begging? You are a rich man. That bowl of yours is worth at least thirty thousand dollars.”
Beloved in Christ, today is Pentecost Sunday. On the day of Pentecost, the promised Holy Spirit descended with power upon the Apostles in the image of tongues of fire and thus began the mission of the Church in the world. Once they received the Spirit, they went out boldly and preached to all in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Jesus himself prepared the Eleven for this mission, appearing to them on many occasions after his Resurrection.
Prior to his Ascension into Heaven, Jesus ordered the apostles not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father; that is, he asked them to stay together to prepare themselves to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The disciples followed the command of Jesus. They as a community gathered together in prayer along with Mary in the Upper Room, awaiting the promised event. It is here they all received the Holy Spirit, who will grant them the unction to function through the following roles in their lives:
(i) Empower them (Acts1:8)
(ii) Speak for them as an advocate (Jn 14:16)
(iii) Teach and remind them all they have been taught (Jn 14:16)
(iv) Help them in their weaknesses (Rom.8:26)
(v) Teach them how to pray (Rom.8:26)
(vi) Sanctify them(Gal.5:16-21)
(vi) Dissipate fear from them (2Tim. 1:7)
(vii) Equip them with the gifts of the Spirit (1Cor. 12:4).
*THE MEANING OF PENTECOST*
Pentecost literally means 50th (fiftieth), from the Greek ‘pentekoste.’
It is a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the Passover feast by the Jews and a feast celebrated on the 50th day after the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus by Christians. The Jewish Pentecost was originally a post-harvest thanksgiving feast. Later, the Jews included in it the remembrance of God’s Covenants with Noah after the Deluge and with Moses at Mt. Sinai .
On the Pentecost day as we deduce from the first reading:
(1) The Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary as fiery tongues.
(2) The frightened apostles were transformed into fiery preachers and evangelizers and were given the gift of tongues by a special anointing of the Holy Spirit.
(3) The listeners experienced a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit through the apostles’ gift of tongues: they heard Peter speaking in their native languages.
(4) The early Christians became powerful witnesses and brave martyrs for their Faith in Jesus.
In the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see how the promise of Jesus has been fulfilled by the descent of the Holy Spirit who becomes the greatest last gift of Jesus to his disciples before his Ascension. In obedience to Jesus plea to the apostles not to leave Jerusalem, the disciples gathered together in Jerusalem and experienced the divine sign. The disciples did receive the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day.
Today’s Second Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Romans admonishes us that those who are in the flesh, cannot please God and thus cannot receive the Holy Ghost empowerment. He says that if we live according to the flesh, we will die; but if we exist by the Spirit, we shall have to put to death the deeds of the flesh, and we will live.
While the Gospel describes how Jesus breathed on the apostles after the resurrection and gives them the Spirit and confers on them the power to forgive the sins of people. He tells them: “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” The baton is being passed. They have a job to do and it is exactly what Jesus himself came to do – to establish the Kingdom on earth. They needed the empowerment to achieve this feat.
However, we Christians, are sometimes like the beggar boy in the introit story who failed to recognize and appreciate the value of his bowl. We fail to appreciate the infinite worth of the Holy Spirit living within each of us, sharing His gifts and fruits and charisms with us. Jesus speaks to us today: “Why do you waste your time begging someone to do what the Holy Spirit can do for you?” Why are you being duped to be told what the Holy Spirit did not say in the name of prophesy? Why do you seek defence and protection before evil and demonic altars, whereas the Spirit is your ADVOCATE?” “Why have you not valued power of the Holy Spirit in us by reactivating it in our live? The church invites all her children today to reexamine the place of the Holy Spirit in our lives as a church and as individuals; and equally spurs us to experience and appreciate the transforming, sanctifying, and strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit within us. Alot of families have been torn apart because of “Muonso si.” (The Spirit ministered to me). This is also a day for us to renew the promises made to God during our Baptism and Confirmation, to profess our Faith, and to practice it, by recognizing that the Holy Spirit dwells within us as one called to our side (Parakletos).
(1) *WE NEED TO PARTNER WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT*
The apostles who received the Holy Spirit today, yearned and longed to partner with Him. The first reading stipulates that they waited for Him at the Upper room. It was a 9 day dispositions that yielded positively today. Someone said that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, he doesn’t enter any space uninvited. If you invite him, he cannot enter until you open the doors for him and he doesn’t sit down until you offer him a sit. So, partnering with the Holy Spirit begins with desire and fostering devotions to the Holy Spirit. Begin today to desire Koinonia (Friendship, partnership, fellowship, sharing things in common), with the Holy Spirit in your life ( 2Cor 13:14).
(2) *AVOIDING SELF-INDULGENCE*
In the second reading, St Paul encourages us to avoid self-indulgence, that is, yielding to the pleasures and promptings of the flesh. He admonishes us to rather keep walking according to the Spirit. Nothing scares the Spirit of God away from us, more than the sins committed against our body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, viz: sexual vice, impurity, and sensuality, worship of false gods and sorcery; antagonisms and rivalry, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels, disagreements. When Saul and Samson fell to self-indulgence, the Spirit of God left them and they perished (1Sam 16:4; Judges 16:20)
(3) *BE SPIRIT-FILLED ALWAYS*
A Spirit-filled Christian is one who acknowledges his weaknesses, asks for the divine empowerment, grace, anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit every morning; asks for His forgiveness every evening, and passes on that forgiveness to those who sin against him/her. A Spirit-filled Christian is a prayerful Christian. And when we pray and are SPIRIT-FILLED, God sends and pours out His Spirit to empower us with varieties of gifts so that we wouldn’t need fake pastors and Ada or Nwanyi mmiri to deceive you with fake prophecies.
Paul encourages us, “Pray on every occasion as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray for all God’s people” (Eph 6:18).
Finally, a story was narrated about a little boy, Kelvin. He was in primary 3, attending a school where the most respected ‘big boys’ in school were only those who rode bycicles to school. These big boys were always seen in ‘a bicycles convoy’, during recreations, parading their fanciful bicycles. They were so much revered by their colleagues and mate who looked forward to joining the league of bicycle big boys.
Kelvin had a rich Dad, who was strict and could afford a bycicle. But the father never did. Kelvin mustered courage on one occasion and went to plead with the Dad to queue him into the big boys league in school, by securing a bicycle for him. The father to his greatest surprise, agreed to buy him a bicycle, but on one condition, “He mandated him to take the first position in class.”
Kelvin knew it was going to be a herculean task, because he was among the dullards that come first from behind (Ndi na ebu class n’isi).
The quest for becoming a bicycle owner propelled him to accept the challenge and study harder.
He set out study strategies to actualize this feat. He cut off from some friends and his leisure. He really read hard. At the end of the term, he took 4th position from behind; 37th out of 40, instead of 40th out of 40. He had a morale boost that he could do better in order to secure the bicycle and prove his father wrong.
He maintained the same study plan and at the end of the 2nd term, he retrogressed and took the last position; this time, 40th out of 40 students. At this point, it dawned on him that the hope of securing the bycicle from his strict dad had dashed. He widened his coast and pleaded with the uncle who kept promising without fulfilling it, from Easter to August and Christmas. When the uncle’s promise became a mirage, he sought the attention of his aunt who made a promise, which he reluctantly accepted, because of “nkwa Shagari kwere ndi Amucha”(unfulfilled promises).
Lo and behold, after one week, the aunt bought Kelvin a brand new chopper bicycle. His own became the best in the school. He became the biggest boy in town and school.
Kelvin so much treasured this bicycle that he placed its safety first in his order of priority. At night, Kelvin took the bicycle into the room and placed it on the bed and laid on the ground with his right leg on top of the bicycle. The mother came into the room and scolded him profusely to send the bicycle outside. He did and never returned to the room. He kept watch as a sentinel over the bicycle till day broke. The next day, he saved his snacks allowance, and after school, he used it to buy a long rope. No one knew why he got the rope. After dinner, as he was about going to bed, he went out and tied the rope on the bicycle parked outside, sneaked the rope into the room and had it tied to his waist… Better carry me and the bicycle.
The next day, he was asked to go into the market to buy some food items. He got to the market and his plan to carry the bicycle into the market was truncated. He felt the parking lot was not secure for his highly treasured and valued bicycle. Kelvin remembered that, adjacent to the market, was their parish church. He felt the church could be far better and more secure than the market parking space. He got into the church and as he was parking it, saw the parish priest and told him to help him pray over the bicycle for protection. The priest was about taking him into the chapel for prayer. He reluctantly followed him and as he was about leaving, turned and lifting up his eyes, asked the Holy Spirit to watch over the bicycle. Right inside the chapel, the parish priest asked him to begin the prayers so that he could conclude. Kelvin started the prayer as follows, “In the name of the Father and of the Son… Amen.” The parish priest got annoyed and felt he was among those who do not attend catechism classes and Bloc Rosary. After scolding him, he asked him to begin again, and he prayed thus, “In the name of the Father and of the Son… Amen.” The Parish Priest got more infuriated and after some rehearsals, to his greatest disappointment, Kelvin maintained the his own formula, “In the name of the Father and or the Son.. Amen.”
When the parish priest inquired to know why he was vehemently resisting mention of the Holy Spirit, he retorted, “Father, while we were entering the chapel, I invoked the Holy Spirit to keep to watch over the bicycle for me. So, if I should maintain the traditional formula of the sign of the cross, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the Holy Spirit might leave the bicycle to answer me and maybe after the prayer, the bicycle might go missing.”
Beloved, the above epilogue story is quite funny, exposing the naivety of the young Kelvin. Yet, I see this young boy as an ideal and a mentor who, out of his innocence and naivety, has helped to integrate and tutor us on the power, essence and functionality of the HOLY GHOST in the life of every Christian.
MAY THE GOOD LORD HELP US TO RECOGNISE AND VALUE THE ROLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN OUR LIVES SO AS TO REMAIN FAITHFUL TO HIS WORDS AND MISSION. AMEN.
_FR GERALD MUOKA_
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