Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1Cor 12:3-7, 13-12; John 20:19-23 ⇒⇒⇒
We have three sets of homily notes to choose from. Please scroll down the page.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Orjika: Come Holy Spirit
Rev. Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai : The Basic Elements of Pentecost
Rev. Fr. Dr. Paul K. Oredipe: Fire and Wind of God’s love
Rev. Fr. Callistus Orjika
Come Holy Spirit
Its been fifty days now since we began to celebrate the most important season in the Christian calendar. This began with the resurrection of our Lord and it ends today with the decent of the Holy Spirit- Pentecost. There are biblical scholars who refer to this day as the birth of the Church but some others say that the birth of the Church was on Calvary, while Jesus hung on the cross, in fulfillment of his prophecy, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself” (John 12: 32). For me, I agree with the former which says that Pentecost was the birth of the Church because it was on that day that the Church came out to the open and people heard the voice of the timid disciples bearing witness to the truth.
This Spirit of truth does not only come to the Church as a body. The Holy Spirit comes to individual believers. That is what St Paul says in the second reading of today: “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor 12:7). It must however be noted here that in as much as we receive the Holy Spirit individually, we all must harness our gifts for the edification of the Church. A piece of fire wood cannot cook a large pot of food. It may serve other means, but then that is being under-utilised. It is only when the price of firewood is put together with others under the large pot of food, then the meal can be properly cooked and the firewood be efficiently utilized.
From the aforementioned, no matter how endowed you are, you must be united in Christ’s body (He, Christ, being the head of that Body) in order to maximize your potential. A group of choristers must sing harmoniously and obey the conductor for a beautiful piece to be rendered. Anyone who fails in this regard will not only be the the odd one out, he or she will affect the entire choir.
Dearly beloved, there is not a single baptized Christian who has not been endowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Though, some of us may not know our gifts. This is not the fault of the Holy Spirit. Ours is to find our gift and use them properly. We just have to make conscious effort to bring forth the gift in us to blossom. In order to achieve this, we must remember and act on the words of St Paul to Timothy which says; “fan into flame this gift of God which we have received through the imposition of hands.” (cf. 2 Tim. 1:6).
May the Holy Spirit ignite in us the fire of His Divine love that we may be radical witnesses to the truth. Amen.
Spiritual Assignment: Take a look at the gifts of the Holy Spirit and assess yourself based on the measure of those you possess.
Rev. Fr. Daniel Evbotokhai
The Basic Elements of Pentecost
Today is Pentecost Sunday. The term Pentecost comes from the Greek (Pentēkostē) meaning “fiftieth”. It refers to the festival celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, also known as the “Feast of Weeks” and the “Feast of 50 days” in rabbinic tradition. But in the New Testament, it refers to the 50th day after the Lord’s resurrection. It marks the end of the Easter Season. It is the day the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles; a fulfillment of Christ’s promise; when he promises he never fails.
Today power is deposited afresh in us. According to the first reading, the Holy Spirit gives us power and makes us witnesses. Acts 1:8, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” No one can witness without the Holy Spirit. In fact, any witness without the Holy Spirit is an expression of weakness. On the other hand, Power is the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way. Without power we cannot gather to worship. The kind of power the Holy Spirit gives is called the supernatural power. Supernatural power is the super on the natural. When the spirit comes upon you, the super comes upon your natural. When it comes upon the bread as in epiclesis it becomes supernatural bread, when it comes upon the wine, it becomes supernatural wine. With this power we are able to bear witness as Christians. When the super comes upon your natural language you are able to bear witness in many languages.
Today’s celebration presents us with the basic element of wind, fire, and the charism of speaking in tongues. The element of wind is from the Greek word (pneuma). It also means breath. Wind has peculiar significance in the scriptures. In 2 Sam.22:11 the bible says the Lord was seen upon the wings of the wind; Ps 104:3 says the Lord rode on the wings of the wind, verse 4, says he used the wind as his messenger. Ezek1:4 also described the presence of the Lord as in a wind. In Gen, 1:2 it was wind that gave shape to the earth. Gen 2:7 says God created man from dust and breathed into his nostril the breath of life. Today’s gospel reading, Jn. 20 verses 22 and 23 shows that Jesus breathed on them and said to them receive the Holy Spirit and so they received the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins. Therefore, wind brings about supernatural power, and life. It divinizes man, downloading into man that which is godly, giving man life and existence. Therefore without breathe what we have is a dead person. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the life in every Christian. A Christian without the Holy Spirit is like a flat tyre. It takes you nowhere and if forced, it destroys further.
The second element in today’s celebration is fire. The fire in today’s scripture is not a fire that was ignited by any man. If man is not the source of your fire, no man can control your fire or quench your fire. God’s fire is a fire no man can stop. The first reading says in Acts 2:3 divided tongues as of fire appeared among them. in the Old Testament, there are so many accounts of the Lord’s presence in the form of fire, Exd.3:2 says the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the flame of fire, in Exd.13:21-22 pillar of fire guided the people at night; in Exd 19:18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke for the Lord descended upon it in fire. Heb.12:29 says “our God is a consuming fire”. Fire therefore, symbolizes the presence of God. This fire is also the reason for, passion and enthusiasm, it rejects tepidity. The divided tongues as of fire indicate variety of gifts but the same Spirit. Paul says in the second reading: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…”. Thus, the fire in us is for service so that we can bring the world under the administration of God.
Lastly, the third element in today’s celebration is the charism of speaking in other tongues. This has been a major concern in the Church especially in the face of present Pentecostalism. ‘If you can’t speak in tongues you are not yet born again.’ A lot have to be said in this regard but I shall just note briefly. Speaking in other tongues is both real and symbolic. It was real such that those present could hear them speak in their various languages and it is symbolic such that in the Church, language is not a barrier. Therefore, whenever we express this gift that does not make us special spirit-men, rather it disposes us for service to greater number of people or languages. Where this gift is being exercised, the gift of interpretation follows so that no one is lost in the message that comes from God. Thank you Holy Spirit!
Rev. Fr. Dr. Paul K. Oredipe
Fire and Wind of God’s love
Celebration and Challenge of True CHANGE
Today we celebrate Pentecost, the day on which the Holy Spirit came on the apostles after the Ascension of Jesus into the glory of the Father.
With this Solemnity today, we have arrived at the climax and final day of the season of Easter, the season of celebrating the Spirit. Easter is a 50-day celebration. Easter Sunday opens it and Pentecost closes it. Just as Easter Sunday, the beginning of Easter was such a mighty event, it is only proper that Pentecost, the end of Easter should be a great event as well. Indeed, officially in the Church, Pentecost is the second most important celebration after Easter in the liturgical calendar, even before Christmas.
In the creed, we all profess our belief in the Holy Spirit as:
“the Lord, and giver of life,”
therefore, He is divine, God himself.
“who proceeds from the Father and the Son;”
therefore, He is the outcome of their love.
“together with the Father and the Son, He is adored and glorified”
that is, He is equal to them.
“He has spoken through the prophets.”
therefore, He is already at work from the beginning in our history of salvation.
At creation, the Holy Spirit played a major role.
This inspiration began at creation, continues at various times and in various ways – through the prophets, kings, patriarchs in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we see the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the coming of Christ. The Father has given the Spirit to His son from all eternity. Through the gift of the Spirit, the Word became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. At His baptism Jesus experienced an anointing of the Spirit for His ministry and His redeeming sacrifice. At His Ascension into heaven, a final and complete giving of the Spirit is given to Jesus, which so permeated (filled up) His humanity that He becomes, with the Father, the fount of the Spirit for His followers.
As the Holy Spirit was very necessary, it was actually sent by the Father and the Son on the apostles. As the first reading reminded us, they were transformed in thought and action. The frightened apostles were transformed and empowered into brave and bold proclaimers of the Good News. They became spiritual giants to crusade for Christ in the task of soul-winning.
The Church that was born from the pierced side of Jesus, as He hung on the cross, was launched and powerfully announced to the world on that Pentecost day. It is precisely this that the Holy Spirit worked in them, and this is continually at work in the Church through the ages, inspiring and guiding her to undertake mission in accordance with the command and mandate of Jesus, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). Even when that mission is threatened with persecutions and oppositions, the Holy Spirit continued to sustain the missionary activity of the Church.
We too have been given the Holy Spirit. In our times too, the Holy Spirit continues to work in the lives of the faithful and in the community of believers. This is evident in the continued existence and survival of the Church and the continued growth and spread of the Good News throughout the world. We received the Holy Spirit in Baptism, when we claimed ourselves for Christ. The same Holy Spirit is strengthened at Confirmation.
In the second reading, St Paul tells us: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.” And he goes on to convince us that the various gifts of the Spirit in us is given for a definite good purpose – to build up the community of believers, to change the world into a better place. There is no mere chance or coincidence in God’ plan. It is the Spirit that leads and saves. In chapter 8 of his letter to the Romans, St Paul describes what life in the Spirit means. It is a life of adopted sons and daughters of God, not of slaves; a life of freedom from sin and death; a life of strength in weakness.
Therefore, it is necessary that we know and discover the kind of Spirit that is at work in our life. For it is “not every spirit that is to be trusted”. Hence we have to “test the spirit to see whether they are from God.” (I John 4:1) On the first Pentecost day, Peter proclaimed: ‘we are the witnesses, we and the Holy Spirit who is first gift to those who obey him.” True and real Christian witness can only be in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This obligation of being witnesses is not what we can do by our own power or means. This is what Peter confirmed. We are witnesses together with the Holy Spirit. It is to strengthen us and equip us that Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of truth will be with us always and will testify with us that our hope in the resurrection is not in vain. Whenever we speak He will give us the words to say: His works will always accompany our acts of faith. We who follow the Lord are to bear witness to the truth, that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.
This is our vocation, to be a living witness of the truth of the Gospel so that through our lives the Holy Spirit can penetrate the heart of the world. Whichever way our lives bear witness to Christ, we can be sure that there are those around us who see in our lives something which is contrary to the hypocrisy and deception of the world and gives them hope.
However, let us realise that the power is not ours, but God’s. And so we do not rely on self sufficiency. Our sufficiency and security is in the power of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. And so we rely on the guidance, counsel and direction that the Spirit offers in all things, places and at all times.
Romans 10: 13 – 15 emphasizes that: “But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?”
Today, we have the privilege of responding to Christ’s invitation to be fruitful bearers of his Good News. This mission becomes even more urgent in our own day and time today. We are faced with the same challenge in the present age. Another Pentecost is here already urging us to be instrumental in the plan of God to renew the face of the earth once in this place and at this time.
We are Christians today because of the witness, worship and sincere work of the missionaries. What shall we do? Perhaps, I would like to suggest that you begin with yourself. After the Mass, the priest says: “Go in the peace of Christ”. Do we really go? So start today by really going to yourself. Talk to yourself and convince yourself of the universal Lordship of Jesus Christ. Be aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in you and let that Spirit be your guide, companion and friend. Begin the missionary journey there.
It is you who have to first accept Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour before you can give or share Him with others. Words only are no Good News. The world must SEE the Good News in you, in me, and through us a world of peace, truth, justice, love and unity can become a reality. Without this witness, even the most eloquent verbal proclamation will amount to no more than “a gong booming or a cymbal clashing” (1 Cor. 13:1). For modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he listens to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.
Christ’s work demands total commitment in small things done daily. He wants all of us to be part of His saving mission. We are His hands by the work we do, His tongue by the words we speak, and His feet by the places and people we visit. The individual Catholic is the only contact with the Church that most people outside the Church have. The Church itself is judged by each individual Catholic. When you have succeeded in converting yourself, then the conversion of others will follow suit and automatically. It is then that the Holy Spirit can truly renew the face of the earth as we often pray.
So, on this Solemnity of Pentecost, celebrating the eruption into the world of the Holy Spirit’s power, may we be open to the Spirit’s gentle promptings, cooperating with our wills to help us follow Christ and do God’s will. Let us pray that God will send the flame of the Holy Spirit to invigorate us, and change us from lukewarm to zealous, fervent, enthusiastic believers. Let us pray that God will send forth and renew the Holy Spirit in us so that with the Spirit of Jesus and the love that He gives, we can make that change happen. We do not have to give up and say human nature can never change. It can change, it can grow and you and I can help make that happen right now as we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit.
May that Holy Spirit truly come and reside with us all the days of our life. May the Lord bless and strengthen us to do His Holy will all the days of our life. May we desire the Holy Spirit today and thus become for Christ a fervent challenge of grace to our hearts, homes, societies, nation and the world at large.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever. Amen.
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful … And enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth thy Spirit and they shall be created . . . And thou shall renew the face of the earth.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.