YEAR A: HOMILY FOR PENTECOST SUNDAY
HOMILY THEME: THE FIRE OF THE HOLY GHOST!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * Act 2 : 1 – 11, 1 Cor 12 : 3 – 13, Jn 20 : 19 – 23.
The biblical symbol of fire stands out among other symbols used in describing the Holy Spirit such as cloud, dove or anointing. The following characteristics have been identified with the Pentecost :
(i) Empowerment – represented by the image of a powerful wind.
(ii) Noise – ushering in the era of boldness.
(iii) Zeal – represented by the image of tongues of fire.
(iv) Praying in the Spirit – shown by the new gift of speech that enables us talk to God.
(v) Understanding – the gift of interpretation of tongues were released so that there would be no confusion of language that day. People from different tribes and tongues where able to communicate in the Spirit that day.
The Holy Ghost fire is an instrument of (i) Deliverance /arrest of sinners, eg St Paul, Act 9 : 4 and Moses, Ex 3 : 2. (ii) Empowerment /embodiment of Christians, eg the apostles on Pentecost day, Act 1 : 8. (iii) Sanctification of believers, Jn 16 : 8. Fire of God’s love (iv) Illumination of souls, eg in Saints like Francis de Sales. (v) Consummation of evil spirits and forces, eg Elijah and the Prophets of baal, 1 Kg 18 : 38. Our God is a consuming fire, Heb 12 : 29.
B. GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
There are varieties of gifts of the Holy Spirit with different purposes ; (a) Charismatic gifts to enable us function better in the Church – (i) Wisdom (ii) Faith (iii) Healing (iv) Prophecy (v) Tongues.
(b) Spiritual gifts to take us to heaven – (i) Wisdom (ii) Insight (iii) Cousel (iv) Power (v) Knowledge (vi) Piety (vii) Fear of God.
(c) Gifts of indwelling presence – (i) Love (ii) Joy (iii) Peace (iv) Patience (v) Kindness (vi) Goodness (vii) Gentleness (viii) Trustfulness (ix) Self Control.
The most important gift of the Holy Spirit in the Church is the gift of PEACE AND RECONCILIATION, Jn 20 : 9 – 13. That is why going to Confession before Pentecost is a good way of fulfilling our Easter duty.
C. ERA OF RENEWAL /EMPOWERMENT
Ever since Pope John XXIII prayed for a new Pentecost, the Spirit of renewal has been felt in all the Churches – renewal in faith (expectant faith) and prayer life, power, 2 Tim 3 : 5, Bible study, praise worship and generally, renewal in relationship – seeing the Holy Spirit as a person not just a thing or force ; (i) He speaks, Rev 2 : 7- Listen to what the Spirit speaks to the Churches , (ii) He intercedes, Rom 8 : 26 – in our weaknesses, (iii) He testifies, Jn 15 : 26 – Jesus says it ‘bears witness to me’, (iv) He leads, Rom 8 : 14 – led by the Spirit, (v) He can be lied to or offended or defiled, Act 5 : 3 – 4 – Ananias lied to him, Eph 4 : 30 – Do not grieve the Holy Spirit, 1Cor 6 : 18 – Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, do not defile it.
In summary, the works of the Holy Spirit is in the area of regeneration and sanctification of believers. He will prove to the world how wrong it was about sin, righteousness and judgment Jn 16 : 8.
It is also important that we do not limit or over amplify him with either our philosophy or theology ; with our scientific or gullible minds. May God grant us both the fire /zeal of Pentecost and the wisdom and discernment to pull through the ordinary seasons of the year. Happy Pentecost!