YEAR B: HOMILY OF PENTECOST SUNDAY

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YEAR B: HOMILY OF PENTECOST SUNDAY

HOMILY THEME: HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT SANCTIFIES US

BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong

0. Poetic Riddles. Let’s start with 3 fresh riddles on the Holy Spirit, published Feb. 16th, 2024, on Riddlepedia. 1. Not a ghost, but Divine is my essence; one of the Trinity, I’m a holy presence. Who am I? A: Holy Spirit. 2. Breath of God but not of air, filling believers everywhere. Who am I? A: Holy Spirit. 3. One of the Trinity, but not the Son; I inspire and guide, ’til the work is done. Who am I? A: Holy Spirit.

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1. Communion of Saints. Sisters and Brothers, the Holy Spirit gets into believers to sanctify us and to get the work of salvation done. Look at the fearful disciples of Christ in Jerusalem about 2000 years ago. They gathered together during the Jewish feast of Pentecost. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:4). A large crowd of people from every nation under heaven heard the sound and gathered. Here is the testimony of the crowd: from today’s 1st reading (Acts 2:1-11): “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes and Elamites…Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” Yes, the Holy Spirit is the Divine Specialist in getting things like this done. Do you want fearful disciples to start the urgent task of making disciples of all nations? Fill them with the Holy Spirit. Do you want fearful disciples to become one body, united in reconciling human beings with God and with one another, that is, the Church? Fill each of those disciples with the Holy Spirit as on Pentecost, a transcendent event that we commemorate today. Do you want each of these disciples in the Church to turn from sinners into saints? Ah, that is the main task of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit sanctifies. He turns us sinners into saints, into a Communion of Saints. How? How does the Holy Spirit turn a sinner into a saint? Well, to see how, let us look at other credentials of the Holy Spirit, from creation to redemption.

2. Forgiveness of Sins. Who was with God and with the Word of God at creation, at the origin of the being and life of every creature? The Holy Spirit. (Gen 1:2; 2:7). Who spoke the Word of God through the prophets? The Holy Spirit. (Num 11:29). Who came upon Mary so that the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us? The Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35). Who came upon Jesus Christ so that He proclaimed the good news of God’s Kingdom? The Holy Spirit. (Lk 4:18-19). With such and many more credentials, we can see how the Holy Spirit turns sinners into saints. That process is made concrete in today’s Gospel reading (Jn 20:19-23) where our Lord gives His apostles the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, right after His resurrection. He appeared and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”: ‘And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”’ (Jn 20:23). Through them and their successors, He gave us a means of beginning anew should we fall into sin, a means of growing in holiness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

3. Life Everlasting. And before His ascension our Lord instructed His followers to wait for another outpouring of the Holy Spirit: “…stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24:49). They needed such power in order to carry out the arduous task of making disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18-20). Today’s 2nd reading (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13) continues the message, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are many, are different and are given to individuals to build up the Communion of Saints for everlasting life. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; … To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor 12:4,7). So, which spiritual gifts are you asking for today? Of course, differences in our roles in the Church and the society call for differences in the gifts we need. However, everyone who has received the Holy Spirit has received the greatest and the most basic of spiritual gifts: “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). Considering how I still fall short of the fruits of Christian love (1 Cor 13:4-8) it is clear to me that the Holy Spirit is giving me the desire for greater love of God and neighbor at this time. Please pray, listen and discern your gift and calling as well. It could be the gift of hearing Galileans speak American English or Arabic, or better still, the gift of hearing and responding positively to the cry for justice in the oppressed, the yearning for love in our neighbours, the desire for God deep in our hearts. Such positive responses turn us from sinners into saints. This is how the Holy Spirit sanctifies us.

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