My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Happy Pentecost! Happy Birthday of the Church and Happy Birthday to the members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, (Spiritans), and to all Spiritans Associates!
It is with immense joy that I write this Pentecost message to you. At Jesus’ Ascension, he asked his disciple to remain in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit who would shower them with the gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. These gifts of the Holy Spirit will elicit the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in them. Thus, filled with, and empowered by this Spirit, the disciples would become Jesus’ witnesses starting from the land of Judea to the entire world. (Acts 1:8).
The disciples of Jesus had a unique experience of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day that made them preach the Good News of Christ in different languages. And the people who had come on pilgrimage for the Jewish feast of First Fruits and the giving of the Torah, (Law), at Mount Sinai were marvelled at the disciples preaching in their mother tongues. Pentecost was the opposite of the Tower of Babel were humanity turned on itself and no one understood each other.
Pentecost was a bridge-building experience where people from different walks of life and nationalities understood each other – it is about unity in diversity. Every gift is important and must be appreciated and used in the dissemination of the Gospel of Christ. One of the lessons of Pentecost is that every language is a gift from God and appreciated by Him.
The Holy Spirit, as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, is both an agent and a catalyst of mission. “He is the Lord, the giver of life who proceeded from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.” (Nicene Creed). Before the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus, the disciples were timid and lacked the courage to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus which is the Gospel of life. But once the Holy Spirit showered them with his gifts, all the human fear in them dissipated. They began to proclaim the Gospel and many people who heard the message about Jesus were touched in their hearts and a respectable number asked to be baptised. (Acts 2:40).
One of those who appreciated the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Church was Fr Claude Poullart des Places, the founder of Congregation of the Holy Spirit, (Spiritans). He gathered some poor seminarians who he was helping to feed in France and dedicated them to the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday, 27th May 1703. The members were dedicated to work among the poor in the society and where the Church finds it difficult to find workers. Hence the Spiritans work as missionaries in First Evangelisations, (that is, where people have not heard or scarcely heard the Gospel), in parishes, hospitals, prisons, and among refugees. Presently, the Spiritan Fathers and Brothers are working in about sixty countries which include Australia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines, Ethiopia, Nigeria, France, United Kingdom, United States, Mauritius, Madagascar, Gabon, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Paraguay, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, Peru, Ireland and so forth.
The Holy Spirit is like a dove. At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on him in form of a dove. (Matt 3:16). Sometimes, we wish that we could domesticate the Holy Spirit so that it will be at our beck and call, however, the Holy Spirit like a bird, flows where it wills. When Peter was speaking to Cornelius in Acts 10:1-48, (44), the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening to the Word of God, including the members of the household of Cornelius who were not yet baptised. Peter then ordered for their baptism.
The Holy Spirit is like the Wind. Jesus said, “The wind blows where it pleases and you hear its sound, but we cannot tell where it comes from and where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:8). The Spirit cannot be contained. It may be a gentle breeze or a hurricane.
The Holy Spirit is like a Fire. On the way to the promised land, the Israelites were led in the night by the pillar of fire. (Ex 13:12). Fire has been a symbol of God’s presence in the Old Testament. Today, (Pentecost), the Holy Spirit rested on the Apostles like a tongue of fire. (Acts 2:5). The Spirit cleanses us as fire purifies gold, making us acceptable to God.
As we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, may the Holy Spirit fill your hearts with the oomph to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ as his witnesses in the world. Amen.
Christ is commissioning you to go and make disciples of all the nations!
Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp & Fr Jude Agorchukwu CSSp