On Sunday, 31st May 2020, the Solemnity of Pentecost, his Lordship, Most Rev. Donatus Ogun, Bishop of Uromi Diocese celebrated the Holy Mass at St. Anthony Cathedral Uromi. Below is the text of the homily he gave at that liturgical celebration
Dear brothers and sisters, we give thanks to God that we have this opportunity to gather to celebrate Pentecost. Unlike in the past when we have filled up churches, we are constrained by the present situation we find ourselves today to celebrate with just 20 persons in the congregation. However, this should be a special occasion where we show to the civil authorities that as Christians we are good and law-abiding citizens of our nation.
As a Diocese, through our priests, we have increased the number of Masses so that more people may have access to Holy Communion. We are joyful that this has been succeeding with tremendous sacrifices and more work for the priest. This is certainly an expression of the love of the priests for the people to give them the sacraments.
The Holy Spirit Is Our Teacher
Dearly beloved, the celebration of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. We are joyful today, even with our small number, beautiful as it is. This calls to mind the truth that the very first disciples who received the Holy Spirit were few and it was from that small number that the Church spread. Therefore, let us not be discouraged by the small number that we have to gather in worship. Jesus promised He will not leave us orphans and Pentecost is the fulfillment of that promise. He said to the Apostles; ‘But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you’(John 14:26). For us Christians, therefore, the Holy Spirit is our teacher. St. Augustine calls Him the inner teacher. As teacher, He helps us when we open ourselves to him to understand the mystery of Divine Revelation given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Give Your Whole Self To The Spirit
Every person is qualified to receive the Holy Spirit when we dispose ourselves. It is the measure you give that you will receive. For instance, if one goes to the river to fetch water, the quantity of water you fetch depends on the size of the container you take to the river. If somebody carries a drum, he is going to carry a drum of water, if somebody carries a jerry can, he brings a jerry can of water, same goes for one who carries a cup, or even a spoon. The implication of this is that, our disposition to the Holy Spirit as a Christian counts, for He works in us according to how we open ourselves to Him. Hence, when we learn to give the Holy Spirit a total offering of the self, the Holy Spirit works with the whole person. Today, we are called like the Apostles to give our entire self to the Spirit. The Apostles gave their whole being to the Spirit and they were used maximally by the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit Is Also The Advocate
As much as revealing the mysteries of the Kingdom, the Holy Spirit defends the message of Truth for us, instructing us on what to say when we must speak on behalf of God (Mk. 13:11), instructs our conscience on right action (God’s advocate) and defends us before the accuser/Satan. Furthermore, as Advocate and Teacher, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to pray and counsels us regarding what to pray for (Rom 8: 11, 15-16), hence we call Him in the creed, Lord and life-giver (Vivifier).
Easter Continues Through Ordinary Time
The celebration of Pentecost concludes the Easter season, fifty (50) days after the Resurrection. The joy of Easter is a reminder that Easter continues, Easter continues through Ordinary Time. Often we make sacrifices and resolutions during Lent and during Easter we strive to live as resurrected people. The Ordinary Time offers us the opportunity to live out the fruits of Lent and Easter as authentic witnesses to the gospel. Like new soldiers, we must be ready to give witness to the kingdom, and to our brothers and sisters by grace of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
To live out the fruits of Lent and Easter as authentic witnesses of the gospel, we must ask for a fresh understanding of the gifts of the Spirit; wisdom, understanding, knowledge, piety, fortitude, counsel, fear of the Lord. Wisdom; to know how to do what is right. Understanding; to know what God is saying. Counsel; to be able to discern proper action regarding the wise counsel that we get from God. Fortitude; the christian courage to do what is right for it is one thing to know what is right, it is another thing to do it. Piety; Jesus says ‘blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ (Matt. 5:8). Piety, therefore, is our response to Holy things, to find out how God wants us to act in every given situation. The fear of the Lord; helps us to live and think always of how God wants us to live and do things according to his will for God is the final judge at the close of the age. The Holy Spirit is also a judge, because he judges our conscience.
My dear friends, interestingly the gifts of the Holy Spirit begin with ‘wisdom’ and ends with ‘the fear of the Lord’. Scripture says ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…(Proverb 9:10). It implies, therefore, that the wise Christian is one who fears God and does what God wants. If we put them into practice we will be good Christians and if we are good Christians we will be good citizens. It is impossible to be a good Christian and be a bad citizen because the world, the earth and its fullness, all belong to God. (Ps. 23:1).
We pray today for a fresh outpouring of the Spirit on us, for grace to live as God wants us to live and we pray too for our government, that they would be guided by the Spirit of God to do the right thing at all times.
May the peace which the Spirit brings be with all of you.