Homily (Reflection) for the Solemnity of Pentecost Sunday (A) (31st May, 2020) on the Gospel and the Solemnity

Acts 2:1-11;
Ps 103:1.24.29-31.34 (R.V.30);
1Cor 12:3-7.12-13;
Jn 20:19-23.
Today, it is not uncommon to see people fighting with words either in the form of spoken words or in the form of songs. The songs in question, I strongly believe the composers had in mind while working on them to find means of giving praise to whom it is due. But they have been turned into something else. One might wonder why people turn these means of praising God into weapons for fighting each other.
Topic: Holy Spirit: For or Against Us?
When some hear the name, Holy Spirit (Ghost), their minds normally think of a veritable weapon of mass destruction.  Hence, the expression “Holy Ghost Fire!” is so common these days. Even as I work on this homily, I heard some of the people drinking in one of the bars near the presbytery where we live shout ‘Holy Ghost – Fire!’ for a good number of times. Sometimes people including ordained ministers threaten children of God with the Holy Ghost fire – ‘I will call down Holy Ghost fire on you,’ just like those who worship idols threaten others with their idols. One of the things bothering me is whether this Spirit is still the same with the one Jesus promised that He would send. Or is the work of the Holy Spirit to destroy us?
Today is the solemnity of Pentecost, the commemoration of the decent of the Holy Spirit on the Church, which is the fulfilment of Christ’s promise. It is good for us to understand a little the Holy Spirit who’s filling of and remaining with the Church we celebrate today. This will help us know when we invoke the spirit of God or some other spirit/s knowingly or unknowingly. Let us look at some of the things the scripture tells us about Him. Holy Spirit is God’s gift to those who request for it, cf. Lk. 11:13; the power from above and is very important to every Christian, cf. Lk. 24: 49. We need the Holy Spirit in everything we do even to pray to God, cf. Rom 8:26; the Spirit that will be with us always, cf. Mtt. 28:20; Jn 14:16. Holy Spirit is God’s gift to those who keeps His commandments, cf. Acts 5:32. The Spirit of Truth, cf. Jn. 16:13; our Advocate, cf. Jn 16:7; the Counsellor, cf. Jn 14:26, and so on and on. Holy Spirit is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ, cf. Rom 8:9; 1Pt 1:11.
Before telling His disciples to receive the Holy Spirit in today’s gospel, Jesus first prayed a number of times that they may have peace, cf. Jn. 20:19, 21. This prayer or greeting “Peace be with you” means ‘May God give you every good thing’. Peace is a sine qua non for the reception of the Holy Spirit. We must look for peace if we want the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His disciples His Spirit that will be with and for them, cf. Jn. 14: 15-31. Many who claim to possess the Holy Spirit do not. The presence of the Holy Spirit is not something that can be hidden. Those who invoke fire on others are those who either do not possess the Holy Spirit in them and as a result the fire in question therefore is not of God or those who do not understand what they possess. Holy Spirit comes principally with these gifts: “… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control ….” (Gal. 5:22-23). Can someone who possess these give out anything different from these? We give out what we have, nemo dat quod non habet.
As we try to call down fire on others, we must remember the sons of thunder (Boanerges) who asked for Jesus’ permission to call down fire from heaven. And this was denied them, cf. Lk. 9:51-56. Today, even without seeking God’s will, some send fire to everywhere and to everything. Just as the Church prays while invoking the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit has fire but this is the fire of love with which God recreates the world. It is this fire that awakened the disciples who were under the burden of the scandal of the cross and fear of the Jews, cf. Acts 2:1ff. Hence, our Lord insisted that they do not leave Jerusalem until they received the fire, cf. Lk 24:49.
So, let us celebrate with the Church today the great day of Pentecost when Christ filled the Church with the power of his Spirit and sent her out into the world to bring peace, joy and forgiveness to all mankind[1]. Today also is the birthday of the Church.
Bible Reading: Matt. Jn 14: 15-31; Jn 16:4-24; Rom 8: 1-30; Gal 5: 16-26; Col 3:1-17; Acts 2:1ff.
Thought for today: The Holy Spirit can only be given to those who are prepared for it.
Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful.
And enkindle in them the fire of thy love.
Send forth thy Spirit and they shall be recreated.
And thou shalt renew the face of the earth – Amen.
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[1] The Sunday Missal: A New Edition, HarperCollinsReligious, London, 1984, p.776.

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