YEAR A: HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 3RD WEEK OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: AND HE FELL TO THE GROUND!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * Act 9: 1 – 20, Jn6 : 52 – 59.
Paul’s sandwich programme of conversion is full of theological bewilderment. His spiritual experiences are peculiar; All protocols were duly broken. His vision and mission were twarted. His freedom of choice seemed to have been violated. And even the normal processes of Christian initiation was torpedoed.
He seems to have received an anointing even before the ‘ministration’ from Ananias. His Sacraments of Confirmation seems to have preceded his Baptism and Holy Communion, all to prove that God’s ways are not our ways and God can sometimes break our theological protocols in order to save a soul.
He seems to have become an apostle by coercion rather than through normal free invitation as the other apostles had. But that’s the Holy Spirit for you – blowing the way it wants and wherever it wants.
Salvation is mysterious – both gratuitous and meritorious. God saved Paul by his grace yet God knows that Paul was worthy of his calling and was ready to work out his salvation in fear and trembling, Phil 2: 12. And so he had to put him under arrest immidiately, affirming Paul’s later assertion that ‘Those whom he predestined, he called, those whom he called he justified and those whom he justified, he glorified, Rom 8: 28.
I am interested in the fact that he fell to the ground. The Spirit of God, as it were, pushed him to the ground. Honestly, I am yet to understand clearly the phenomenon of people being pushed down by the Holy Spirit as we see these days happening during ‘ministration’ prayers. I have seen even Seminarians and Priests falling down during such prayers. And each time I wonder at this strange spiritual phenomenon, I remember that St Paul himself fell down under the anointing. I don’t know much in this area but for now, I think people falling down during ‘ministration’ prayers could be as a result of the following reasons;
(i) Manifestation of the release of the Holy Spirit and the expulsion of any opposing spirit as it happened in Paul’s case.
(ii) Manifestation of the gift of tongues, prophesy, etc that comes sometimes with some overwhelming spiritual force.
(iii) Release from demonic obsessions or possessions.
(iv) Manifestation of the spirits of distractions in a religious gathering.
(v) Psycho spiritual disorders like schizophrenia which goes with some passivity of the mind, one of the grounds which make evil spirits manifest in a believer (cf Watchman Nee, Spiritual Man, p. 518).
It is not very easy to understand the whole mysteries of fellowship/ communion with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. He says in today’s gospel: ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you’. He also said that ‘My flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed’ (Doctrine of Real presence). And finally he said that ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood (in this Holy Communion) abides in me and I in him. Just like we may never really understand the phenomenon of how the Holy Spirit arrests his people, we may never also understand the mystery of how Jesus communes with his people through bread and wine.
May God give us this wisdom and insight!