Shikrot Mpwe – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk                       

Pentecost Sunday: Year B – May 23, 2021.

Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Responsorial Psalm Ps 103:1-24,29-31,34; Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:26-27; 16:12-15.

Theme: Come Holy Ghost

Sunday Synopsis

The first reading recounts the Pentecost event. The second reading discloses that the spirit brings about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. In the gospel, St. John recalls Jesus’ assurance that the spirit is the helper. Our liturgy challenges us to invite the Holy Spirit to come down again in our time to revive the Church, sustain its unity and protect it from all harm.

Introduction

Beloved in Christ, today is Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost comes from the Greek Pentekoste which means fiftieth. It was the second of the 3 most important annual feasts in Jewish calendar which occurred 7 weeks after the Passover. It was primarily a feast of thanksgiving for harvest. On that day, the first fruits of wheat crop were offered to God. It was later associated with the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. All Jews at home and in the diaspora were expected to attend. It was on this day that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. This dramatic event is the birthday of the Church.

Pentecost Sunday is the celebration of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Blessed Trinity. The word “Holy” means sacred, awesome and usually associated with God’s majesty. “Spirit” comes from the Hebrew word “ruah” which means breath, air or wind; it connotes the transcendent newness of Him who is personally God’s breath, the divine spirit as revealed to Nicodemus in his encounter with Jesus (Cf. John 3:5-8). The two words “Holy” and “Spirit” are divine attributes common to the three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Background and Summary of the Readings

The first reading (Acts 2:1-11) recounts the Pentecost event. It discloses how Christ’s Passover was fulfilled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which came in form of tongues of ‘fire’ and empowered the disciples for the Great Commission. According to St. John of the Cross, “the symbolism of fire is retained in the Church as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s action.”

The second reading (Galatians 5:16-25) states that indulgence is the opposite of the spirit. St. Paul lists fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy; drunkenness and orgies as inordinate behaviours that are opposed to the spiritual life. However, the Apostle insists that the spirit brings about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In the gospel (John 15:26-27; 16:12-15), St. John tells us that the Spirit witnesses and is an enabler that will lead the Church to the complete truth. He recalls Jesus’ assurances that the spirit is the advocate. The reading emphasizes that the Spirit would glorify the father because it will disclose His will to us.

Pastoral Lessons

1. Celebrate the Church: Christians are charged to celebrate the birthday of the Church in pomp and pageantry while focusing on new missions.

2. Lead the Church in Unity, Justice and Peace: Christian leaders are challenged to lead the Church in unity, justice and peace rather than running it on mere human whims and caprices.

3. Pray for the Fire of the Spirit: At a time when our country is at crossroads politically and economically, Pentecost affords us the chance to pray earnestly so that the Holy Spirit can set our country Nigeria on the right path again.

4. Storm Heaven for Persecuted Christians: We are charged to storm heaven for God’s recharging power so that Christians who are persecuted especially our dear Leah Sharibu who is still in the hands of Boko Haram can be released unconditionally.

5. Make Supplication Against Weakness of the Flesh: We are invited to make a special supplication for all those who are held down by the weakness of the flesh in terms of easily losing their temper or taking to the sins of the flesh so that God’s resuscitating power can arrest them for spiritual exploits.

6. Spread and Defend the Faith: We are charged to ask the Holy Spirit to unite us more firmly with Christ, bond us with the Church and strengthen us to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ who confess His name boldly and are never ashamed of the Cross (Cf. CCC no.1303).

Summary Lines

1. The first reading recounts the Pentecost event.

2. The second reading states that indulgence is the opposite of the spirit.

3. The spirit brings about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

4. In the gospel, St. John tells us that the Spirit witnesses.

5. It recalls Jesus’ assurance that the spirit is the advocate.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Holy Spirit is proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son (Cf. CCC, no. 691). It transforms whatever it comes in contact with. Pentecost reveals the unification of the Church, the body of Christ. It also enables us to embrace Catholic Action so as to endure all forms of persecution for the sake of Christ. May the Holy Spirit revive the Church, sustain its unity, protect it from all harm and grant us divine enablement both now and forever more. Happy Pentecost Sunday!

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