Come Holy Spirit! Transform and unify us

Pentecost Sunday, St. Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre, 19th May, 2024. Homily by Archbishop I.A. Kaigama.

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

Come Holy Spirit! Transform and unify us

Fifty days ago, we began our festive season of Easter. Today, Pentecost ends that liturgical chapter, and we are reminded of the powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and the birth of the early Church. Jesus, before His Ascension, assured His disciples that the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in His name, will teach them everything and remind them of all He said to them (cf. John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:12-15).

The Holy Spirit is the Advocate and Comforter. Through the Holy Spirit’s intervention, the Apostles’ fear was dispelled, and they were infused with the gifts of wisdom and fortitude to bear the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (cf. Gal 5:22-23).

Normally, on Pentecost Day, I would have been celebrating Mass in the Pro-Cathedral, but I am here in your Christian community of St. Pope John Paul II Pastoral Centre. This was a deliberate choice, not however to ignore the Pro-Cathedral, but since the Pro-Cathedral had no candidates for confirmation, I thought I should “distribute” my presence in a manner that even during big moments like today, the small communities of faith no matter in which corner of the Archdiocese may have the opportunity to fellowship with their Archbishop. This explains why I am here praying with you on Pentecost Day.

I would like to use this opportunity to once again, congratulate Monsignor Kenneth Enang on his recent 50th priestly ordination anniversary and 80th birthday and also to thank him for the many years of tireless and dedicated service to God and His Church, especially in our Archdiocese and Province. May God be your reward.

Today, I wish to also thank you all who minister to visitors who come to St. Pope John Paul II Pastoral Center, for meetings, retreats, or moments of quiet prayer and reflection. Those of you who work in the kitchen, reception, and laundry; those who clean everywhere, sell in the bookshop, keep watch at the gate, maintain the electricity, ensure good water supply, and those who come here during break time to pray from neighboring establishments, sacristans, etc., are all contributing to the good of this place by helping to provide a conducive atmosphere for visitors who chose to come here to experience Catholic hospitality. I have seen prominent men and women who prefer to lodge here because it is quiet, and also, because spiritual and pastoral services are being provided, and above all, there is a warm reception given to visitors. Please continue to be nice, cordial, and hospitable without discrimination to all visitors who come your way. Do so with joy and humility, selflessness, and cheerfulness. If you don’t possess those qualities, ask the Holy Spirit.

On Pentecost day, The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles to make them courageous and fearless. From then on, they could boldly face the Jews and tell them the truth to their faces, having been enlightened by the Spirit of truth. Let us not hesitate to ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and give us the courage to speak the truth condemn injustice and corruption and boldly bear witness to the Gospel. In the second reading, St. Paul emphasizes the unity that comes from the Holy Spirit, which impels us to work together for the common good of the Church and civil society.
Only last Sunday we celebrated the 58th World Communications Day, and we warned against the temptation of man to assume the authority or position of God, based on our technological and scientific progress. The Holy Father called on all to humbly use modern technology, especially artificial intelligence, to improve humanity, not to destroy or replace it. In Genesis (11:1-7) the people with one language wanted to be famous, and so decided to build a city and a tower with its top reaching heaven. God eventually confused their language, and everything fell apart.

At Pentecost, God reversed that order, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The Holy Spirit brought unity and expects us believers to witness by our words and actions in our homes, places of work and recreation, and even in politics and governance. Unfortunately, many Christians are lukewarm, ignorant of the faith and catholic teachings, indifferent, and are only seasonal Catholics (cf. 1Pt 3:15)

On this Pentecost Sunday, let us renew our commitment to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to be agents of transformation in the world, bringing hope, healing, and reconciliation.

That the Apostles were able to speak in different languages, indicates that the gospel was meant for people of all nations and signifies the universality of the Christian message which seeks to bridge our differences; to come together as one people, one nation. During the challenges we face as a nation, the Holy Spirit calls us to be agents of reconciliation, peace, and justice, working together for the common good, advocating for the marginalized, and working towards the healing of our nation wounded by corruption, parochialism, injustice, favoritism, inequitable distribution of resources, “godfatherism,” etc.

Many in our country, sadly, cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit because we are “full” of hatred, full of anger, full of resentment, full of self-importance, full of corruption, full of immorality, violence, etc.
I pray the Holy Spirit to transform the hearts of all Nigerians, especially, the hearts of our leaders, judges, security agents, legislators, civil servants, and many others.

We must not forget that the first reading draws our attention to the fact that the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary is important in the life of the Church. Mary’s presence at the Upper Room, portrayed the model of prayer, encouraging the apostles to wait and pray for the Holy Spirit. Her presence also exemplified patience and trust in God’s promises. In all, Mary’s presence at Pentecost symbolizes her ongoing role as the Mother of the Church.

May the Holy Spirit fill us with wisdom, courage, and compassion, and may we be united in our diversity as we strive to build a better and more just society for all.

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