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Homily, Pentecost 2021

Come, Holy Spirit

 

Pentecost Sunday homily by Msgr. Joseph K. Ntuwa

Acts 2:1-11; Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Today is Pentecost Sunday which marks the final part of the Easter story. Whereas Easter celebrates the Resurrection of the Lord, Pentecost celebrates its result, the empowerment of the disciples.  The outpouring of the Spirit outpouring formalizes the public revelation of the Church as the mystery of salvation (CCC# 767), the new People of God, the people of the new and eternal Covenant which is not written on stone tablets but in our hearts by the Spirit we have received during Baptism. What a wonderful coincidence that we celebrate this important feast of the ‘birth’ of the Church as we gradually return to normal life after the pandemic!

The account in Acts (first reading) of the coming of the Holy Spirit is quite dramatic. Though the disciples are gathered inside, they hear and feel a sudden strong driving wind. The wind is an apt analogue of the Holy Spirit. We cannot see the wind, but we can sense its presence by the sound it creates and the effect it has on light objects, trees, and our own skin. Similarly, we feel the effect of the Holy Spirit in the way we are gently nudged or powerfully driven to do something or say something that can transform our world. In that reading, we notice some people are amazed at how the Apostles speak in their own language while others think they are drunk. Such contradictory views have pursued Jesus’ followers down the centuries: some admire the quality of our lives and worth of our services, while others ridicule our belief-systems and the values we uphold. But a true believer is not easily shaken. 

The Holy Spirit bestows different gifts on different people. We should neither envy nor despise the other. The community needs everyone’s gifts, everyone’s gift is precious in the Church. No two Christian stewards are the same. That is why I always invite you to share your unique gifts in the various ministries. St Paul, in both passages from his letters emphasizes the interpersonal effects of the Holy Spirit. To the Corinthians, he wrote that the Spirit joins us to each other, as many parts are joined into one human body. To the Galatians, he wrote that the Spirit leads us away from rivalry, jealousy, and selfishness to patience, kindness and generosity.

In the Gospel, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth. The Spirit of truth “will guide you to all truth”, Jesus tells his close friends (John 16:13).  Recall that this discourse takes place after the last Supper. The very next day, with his life on the line, Jesus will tell Pilate, “For this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (18/:7). After purposefully and continuously testifying to the truth while on earth, he sent the Holy Spirit to all believers so that they could continue to be guided to the truth. Pilate famously asked what truth was because he refused to be guided to the truth. Truth can be difficult. It forces us to confront our comfortable illusions, to refuse our convenient rationalizations, to accept what we know is right, is good, and true.

And knowing our predicament, our merciful Savior promises to send the “Spirit of truth”, the “Advocate” who defends us from the assaults and lies of the Devil, the Helper who comes to lead us “to the complete truth”. If we are led by the Spirit, then, we shall have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, trustfulness, gentleness, and self-control”. Who does not long for such gifts and who does not seek to live in such a world?

In his Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, Pope Francis wrote, “Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God. Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness does not make you less human since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace” (Gaudete and Exsultate, #34). The Holy Spirit comes, therefore, to lead us to the great truth that God has created you and me as potential saints. God has made us for loving friendship with himself and so, we must daily surrender to the Holy Spirit and reject whatever is contrary to God’s holiness.

Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with your transforming power, enabling us to share your transformative fire with those around us. ###

 

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