Rejoice Beloved! For The Spirit Of The Lord is Upon You!!
Readings: (1st: Acts 2, 1-11; Ps: 103, 1. 24-34; 2nd: Rom 8, 8-17 Gos: Jn 14, 15-16.23-26)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or +23408063767512
Today is Pentecost Sunday, the great day of a fulfilled promise. For some days now as in our first reading of today (Acts2, 1-11), the faithful have been physically and spiritually gathered together in the “upper room” in a Novena imploring God to send down the Holy Spirit upon the Church. The significance of this day in the life and history of the Church of Christ cannot be over flogged. This is because there is near to absolute agreement among most scholars that this is the actual birthday of the Church. Today the Spirit of God has blown where it wills and is now with us. So every true and faithful believer has been re-energized, repositioned and refilled for the journey of faith and eternity. Jesus has fulfilled his promise to all those who in faith and hope waited for this day to come. If we are really living in faith, we will feel God’s mighty power – the Holy Spirit is at work in us now! However, the problem is not God fulfilling his promise of sending the Holy Spirit, but, what do we do with this wonderful gift of God?
A man was convicted and jailed for many years for a heinous crime. A few years later he was granted pardon. When the jailers got to his cell, opened its iron bar, and asked him to come out, the man refused and said to them: you are asking me to come out but the bar is still locked. They assured him that the bar was open, then the man walked to the bar and turned back in to his cell and said them: I cannot find any open doors here why are you people deceiving and playing games with me? It is a pity that this man did not know what to do with the gift of freedom! Today, we are filled afresh to over flowing with the Holy Spirit because Jesus has kept his promise. He neither deceives nor plays games with us. What he has done to and for us is real! So we must march out in splendor in order to bear fruits. Therefore, we must dispose of our former selves (Eph 4, 22) and allow the Holy Spirit to work and walk with us.
In the second reading (Rom 8, 8-17), Paul reminds us of the fact that by virtue of our “Pentecostal experience” today, an indelible mark has been placed upon us, that we have been specially configured by the Holy Spirit for spiritual life further away from the mundane. This means that it is the Holy Spirit that gives life. Hence, Paul writes: “…and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he will give life to your own mortal bodies through his spirit living in you.” Therefore, through today’s infilling we are truly and fully earmarked as God’s children. Though adopted, yet, we are fully heirs to God’s throne and heritage. This is why we can confidently today call God, “Abba, Father.” Today we see the gospel reading of the 5th Sunday of Easter (Year C), being repeated. This is a way of laying emphasis on the principal roles of the Holy Spirit we have received today. These include mainly: advocacy, teaching, and reminding us of the things we ought to know. However, for this to be possible, we must be ready to cooperate with him. He can only advocate for us if we are truthful by telling him all our problems and of course allowing him to take the lead in our case. He can only teach us if we pay heed to him, and he can only remind us of the things we ought to know if we are humble enough to say: Holy Spirit of the living God help me or I perish. All these are possible only with our cooperation, because, the Holy Spirit does not coerce any one.
What then will the Holy Spirit that we have received today help us accomplish? First, the Spirit we have received today is not the spirit of fear and timidity. Instead, it is the Spirit that empowers us and makes us strong / bold Christians and children of God (CCC 1302). What this means is that we must no longer remain lily-livered Christians, but Christians who are bold enough to call God Abba Father, and who will witness to him. That is the purpose of this out pouring. It is not for our keeps or for us alone. It is given to so that we like the apostles, would be able to empower others by the help of the same spirit. Second, he will help us bear good fruits (Gal 5, 22). The Holy Spirit will lead us into the kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy. He will lead us away from all that is “base and grass” and bring us to the fullness of life. However, it is important to note that as a person, the Holy Spirit can be offended. This is why we are warned: “…and do not grieve the Holy Spirit, God’s mark of ownership in you” (Eph 4, 30). Although God does not relent in his faithfulness, yet we must be mindful of the fact that grieving the Holy Spirit or being an obstacle to his work is a grave sin because: “Any sin against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but any sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Mt 12, 32).
So, as we rejoice at this wonderful gesture that God extended to us today, let us equally ask him for the grace to be docile to the Spirit we have received, and that by our actions we might not grieve Him. On this joyful day, may I wish all the members of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans) and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement all over the world a happy feast day! May the Holy Spirit lead you to the ends of the earth.
Peace be with you all!