YEAR C: HOMILY FOR PENTECOST SUNDAY
HOMILY THEME: Lord, send forth your spirit and renew the face of the earth.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Acts. 2: 1-11, Ps. 104, 1 Cor. 12: 3-7, 12, John 14: 15-15
Pentecost is the celebration of Christians about the fulfilment of the promise of Christ to send us the Holy Spirit which happens fifty days after the resurrection. It is properly called the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles since Pentecost is an old Jewish Agricultural feast that they were mandated to celebrate. It is called Harvest Festival which is an annual event. (cf Ex. 23: 16, Lev.23: 15-22, Deut.16: 9-12). The book of Exodus commands the Israelites to celebrate it, while the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy spelt out how and when it should be celebrated.
Pentecost as an ancient agricultural Jewish festival is so important that it draws a lot of people to the celebration both indigenes and friends. Pentecost is not synonymous with the advent of the Holy Spirit. It existed centuries before its connection with the Holy Spirit event on the disciples of Jesus Christ. It is the fiftieth day after the feast of Passover and one of the mandatory or statutory celebrations mentioned in the Old Testament. The coming of the Holy Spirit on that day is very significant giving it a new meaning and making it a New Testament celebration. It is the beginning and flagging off of the gatherings of the Disciples of Christ-the new Church (inauguration of the Church). It marks the empowerment of the new people of God sending them on mission. Since it is a harvest festival, it could mean the prefiguring of the day the Holy Spirit would harvest the good fruits of the people of God who heeded to the teachings of Christ the Son of God.
Jesus knows too well the impact and significance of the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and by extension on the Church. He calls him the Spirit of truth, the teacher, counsellor, advocate, the reminder, the power- giver, the courage-filler, the healer, love-giver and giver of every good gift. He is symbolized in tongues of flame, in the dove, in the oil, the wind, in the colour red and seen in different tongues. The Holy Spirit brings a rebirth into the life of God; he renews our old sinful nature into the nature of God which is of holiness. He is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, Spirit of counsel and might, Spirit of knowledge and devotion, Spirit of the fear of God, who when is received produces enormous fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.
The Pentecost experience is so unique that it is better experienced than spoken about by others. It has a personal effect on each individual different from another. No one’s experience is the same with another. It gives people different gifts according to their natural endowment and ability to utilize it. God does not give someone a gift of the Spirit that he cannot carry because every gift is for the good of the Church not for the individual. We are all custodians of God’s gifts and can only use it well when we cooperate with him in obedience to his will. If we do not do so, we anger the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and he may either leave us or remain inactive which is equivalent to not having it at all. The tongues of the Holy Spirit is of understanding and knowledge, it is of love, unity and peace. The reception of the Holy Spirit sends each member of the Church on mission to the whole world to convert the world for God. It empowers us with the divine duty of forgiving people their sins and of retaining sins of ardent and serious sinners who apostasy and who are impenitent. The Holy Spirit is everything good to the world and does everything well for the world and it is the power of God at work in creation and in sustaining the universe. When the Spirit is not at work, hatred, division and dissention take over the affairs of humanity and chaos becomes the doom of creation. This is why nations like Nigeria and others find themselves in insurgence, inhumanity to others, corruption and stealing of public funds, kidnapping, herdsmen attack on lives and property, dubious and criminal use of government investigation machineries like EFCC against political enemies and opponents, selective justice and absorption of criminals and corrupt politicians by ruling party in government, insincerity and all manners of evil against the nation and powerless citizens by the few wicked and spirit-less leaders.
Beloved, let us learn to live by the spirit because no law goes against it. Let us remove human pride and allow the Spirit to inaugurate the reign of God in our lives, let us give the Spirit the way to move us to complete truth and action of unity and of peace. Send forth your spirit O Lord and let the face of the earth be renewed, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf