HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF 7TH WEEK OF EASTER.
THEME: IGNORANCE ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT!
BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)
*Act 19: 1 – 8, Jn 16: 29 – 33.
Fr Bona Ugwu, Cssp, lamented in his small book ‘Beware of Saturdays’ the level of ignorance, neglect, forgetfulness and abuse of the Holy Spirit in many Churches today and even in our Seminaries of formation. He reminds us that the requirement for priestly ordination is not just receiving but being filled with the Holy Spirit and being led by him. Quoting the requirement for the election of the 7 deacons in the early Church, Peter said: ‘Brothers, elect from among you reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task…’, Act 6: 3 (Fr Bona Ugwu, Beware of Saturdays, pp. 29 & 30).
It was clearly recorded not less than two times in the Acts of the Apostles that Paul encountered a group of believers that had not heard about the Holy Spirit – both at Samaria and at Ephesus as we have in today’s 1st reading. The follow up question usually was: But how were you baptized? Some then said: Baptism of John, today some may say: Infant baptism or emergency baptism in preparation for Wedding or Adult baptism without proper catechesis… But the background of the problem remains the same. The solution, according to the 1st reading of today was that Paul insisted that the people should believe in the one who was to come after Jesus (the Holy Spirit) and the moment they prayed and laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came down on them and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. Speaking in tongues have remained one of the most common phenomenal signs of Holy Ghost baptism. And that is why the enemy tries to make a caricature of it in many Churches today. St Paul had to make it clear as early as possible to the Corinthian Church that everybody must not have to speak in tongues, 1 Cor 12: 28 – 30.
Believers need to be taught sufficiently not only the article of faith about ‘Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord’ but also to ‘believe in the Holy Spirit ‘ – Our Counsellor (greatest teacher), the Paraclete (one who stands beside us), Our Advocate (greatest defender), Our Comforter (greatest helper and source of consolation) and The Spirit of truth. Without this functional knowledge of the Holy Spirit, no believer can enter into a relationship with Him and we can never be adult believers. We can never face the challenges of evangelization and witnessing.
RELATED: HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A.
Jesus, in today’s gospel says: ‘I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me’. Yes, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of courageousness and cheerfulness in times of trial. Jesus warned us that in the world we will have hardships (temptations towards sin), tribulations (like sicknesses and mishaps) and persecutions, but we must be courageous because he has conquered the world – not the world of nature but the spiritual world. He shows his victory by imparting his spirit, the source of inner peace to his followers who are undergoing tribulations for his sake. According to the Letter to the Romans, ‘Sufferings produce endurance which produces hope which gives us love which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit’, Rom 5: 3 – 5.
People need to be told more about the Holy Spirit. As parents, Let not our children ever testify against us that they were never even told that there was such a thing as the Holy Spirit. As priests and pastors, let not our congregation ever say ‘We were never even told that there was such a thing as the Holy Spirit’. They need to know him beyond the simple manifestations of tongues and prophesy as the Spirit of consolation, courage and cheerfulness. Who tells Christians that they will not have tribulations once they receive the Holy Spirit? Who tells them that all their problems will be solved and our testimonies would always be positive without the negative? Look at the Psalms that articulate the prayer experiences of the Children of God in the OT and see whether they are not a mixture of the joyful and sorrowful moods. Look at the experiences of the Apostles and early Christians /missionaries who brought us the gospel and see if their testimonies are all positive. We must not deceive the people about the Holy Spirit. We must also not keep them ignorant about the operational power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s tell them exactly who the Holy Spirit is. May God bless you today!
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