SERMON/HOMILY OF PENTECOST SUNDAY – YEAR B

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SERMON/HOMILY OF PENTECOST SUNDAY – YEAR B

HOMILY THEME: CELEBRATION OF PENTECOST

BY: Bishop Gerald M. Musa

Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11; Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus promised his disciples he would send the Holy Spirit after he departed from earth. “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13). The allegorical story in the “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan resonates with the promise of Jesus. In the story, someone called Christian embarks on a spiritual pilgrimage from the City of Destruction to Celestial City. In his journey, he encounters trials, troubles, and tribulations, which is the usual experience of believers in their quest for spiritual enlightenment and salvation. Yet, amid the difficulties of life, Christian is guided by the presence of the Holy Spirit, who leads him into all truth and illuminates the way forward. At turbulent moments in the journey, Christian receives an insight from the Spirit often through reflection on the words of Scripture, dreams, and the counsel of wise mentors. The guidance of the Holy Spirit helped Christians to discern truth from falsehood, overcome obstacles, and stay steadfast on the narrow path of righteousness. In essence, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” embodies the timeless message of John 16:13, illustrating how the Holy Spirit guides believers through the trials and tribulations of life, leading them into all truth and ultimately to the fulfilment of God’s purposes.

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On Pentecost Sunday, the Church celebrates the anniversary of the public manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It was on Pentecost day that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and enabled them to begin the work of evangelisation and to establish a community of the followers of Christ. After they experienced rebirth in the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were able to speak in tongues and their listeners who gathered from different countries, and tribes were able to understand them. This was the direct opposite of what took place at the tower of Babel, where the differences of language divided the people (Acts 2:1-11). The new Israel, the new community of believers, became happily united by the common language of love and in what St. Paul would refer to one faith, one Lord, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:1-5).

When I think of Pentecost as the celebration of the Holy Spirit, what comes to my mind is the challenge of living that new life in the Holy Spirit today. Living in the Spirit also means letting the Word and the Spirit of God permeate and control every aspect of our lives. The Scriptures elaborate on the external manifestations springing from the lives of those who live in the Spirit. To live in the Spirit is to live in love and joy, to exercise the virtues of patience, purity, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Living a life in the Spirit implies cultivating new habits. To equip believers with the ability to live this new life, the Holy Spirit endows them with some vital gifts, which include Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord. In as much as living a life in the Spirit is challenging, it is rewarding for those who dare to venture into it.

Notably, a persistent life in sin is not compatible with the life of the Spirit, and so it follows naturally that when sin constantly remains in the heart, the spirit of God departs. This tragedy happened when Saul gave deaf ears to God’s instructions and looked the other way. At that instance, the Spirit of God departed from him. This explains why David prayed for the restoration of the Holy Spirit when he sinned grievously against God. He prayed earnestly that God should not take away the Spirit from him; this is because when God takes away his Spirit, the affected person dies spiritually (Ps.103).

We acknowledge the struggles that take place in each of us. This struggle is between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh. According to the Apostle Paul: “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh” (Galatians 5:17). In our daily struggles, we face the challenge of saying yes or no to God. Jesus is very much aware of these ongoing struggles and compassionately says, “The spirit is willing and the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The life of Jesus serves as a model to us, especially when we remember how He conquered the temptations that the devil placed before him in the wilderness. In all these struggles, the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to overcome and the fortitude to persevere to the end.

We need the power of the Spirit to be able to live out the vocation that God has called us.

As we celebrate Pentecost, let us:

👉🏿 Recall the powerful event that took place when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples.

👉🏿 Revive our life in the Holy Spirit.

👉🏿 Pray for the renewal of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

👉🏿 Ask God to renew the Church and to renew the face of the earth.

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