Today, Sunday, June 4, 2017, the Holy Mother Church comes to the end of this Year’s Eastertide with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Pentecost. The season of the Ordinary Time of the Year begins on Monday, June 5, 2017. We will recall that on the Solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven that he promised his Apostles that he will always be with them until the end of the age. By this assertion, our Lord speaks about sending the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete or Advocate, who will teach them everything, which he had made known to them. The readings on this Solemnity captures the mood of today’s event. After the Ascension, the Apostles were terrified and because they were so afraid they remained hidden in the upper room not knowing what to do or expect? But, our Lord Jesus Christ is always true to his promise – which he fulfilled on the Pentecost Day. Saint Paul in the Second reading brings out the beauty of the Holy Spirit when he tells the Corinthians, “No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.” Again, it is all the Lord’s doing in our lives. The outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit were made manifest in the first reading and the Gospel of John. The Gospel tells us that “And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” This, according to the Catholic teaching gives credence to the Sacrament of the Reconciliation, Penance or Confession, which only the Catholic priest could administer to the penitents. In the first reading we were made to understand that people from different language backgrounds were able to hear one another in each other’s language – something that never happened before in human history, but was made possible because of the fulfilment of our Lord’s promise. The prayer to the Holy Spirit prays, “Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.” The fire of your love here is our Lord Jesus Christ. My brothers and sisters, the Solemnity of the Pentecost is a reminder to you and me, who were baptized in Christ, to remain steadfast to faith we received from our fathers and mothers in faith. We should not crumble under the persecution that is plaguing us in this country, and to our brothers and sisters around the world. The Holy Spirit we received was not for timidity, but to be the light that shines out from our family to the world. There is no other time this witness to faith is more relevant than now.
Father Uche Obikwelu