Pentecost/ Eucharistic Celebration

Today, as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, we call to mind the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  We also recall that at our own Confirmation we too received the seal of the Holy Spirit, the gift of God the Father.  We gather today on this Pentecost Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist within the communion of the Spirit.

It is the Holy Spirit that unites the community of believers together and to Christ Himself.  It is through the Spirit that we are able to worship God.  It is the Spirit which enkindles the life of faith.  At Consecration, the Holy Spirit is invoked so that He may sanctify the gifts of bread and wine and change them into the body and blood of Christ.  He also sanctifies those who participate in the Eucharist and deepens their relationship with Christ.

Reason why

Our celebration of the Eucharist at the level of the Archdiocese today is as a response of the invitation of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.  The triennial Eucharistic Congress will take place in Dublin from June 10th to 17th, 2012.  The entire Catholic Church is invited to renew its faith in the Eucharist, the most precious gift of the Lord to His church.

The Catholic Church is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.  The 2nd Vatican Council is an example of the outpouring of the Spirit.  It rekindled a new spirit in the church.  It radically changed the church’s way of doing and seeing.  Today we pray for the renewal of gifts of the Spirit; we pray to be enriched with charisms the Spirit bestows on each one of us in order to recommit ourselves to Christ, and to undertake new tasks in order to renew and to rekindle the fervour of all the Catholics to become missionaries to themselves.

Pentecost is a celebration of renewal, of rededication, of experiencing anew the enabling and healing power of the Holy Spirit, just as it did to the Apostles in the Upper Room.  The miracle of Pentecost made them prophets, healers, teachers, missionaries – true and courageous witnesses of Jesus Christ.  It is this Pentecost miracle that we are praying for today.

We pray for a deeper understanding and a deeper appreciation of the gifts of the Spirit.  These gifts ought to have an impact on our daily lives –as individuals and as communities.  As Christians, we face formidable challenges of being true Christian witnesses in the different walks of life.  We pray for the boldness and courage shown by the disciples after they had received the power of the Holy Spirit.  We ought to be genuine Christians and genuine teachers of the faith.  It is by example that we can only move and impress our fellow-human beings.  We live in communities where there is minimum will-power to bring about a radical change in our personal and collective attitudes.  Values of respect for the vulnerable, for women and children are weak in our society, hence the scourge of rape and human trafficking.  There is the need to respect those who uphold beliefs which differ from those of Christians.  But so too, those who do not believe.  They should not impose their beliefs on Christians simply because they are in positions of authority.

We face the challenge of rampant greed and excessive spending in a sea of poverty, disease, poor education and slow economic growth.  Communities are betrayed by the very people who claim to be saviours of the people.  The Church, Christians, ought to be present, visible and vocal “wherever human suffering exists”.  In order for the church to be credible it is important that its own doorstep be kept clean.  In order to promote reconciliation, peace and justice, Pope Benedict XVI, points out in Africa’s Commitment, that inner conversion, inner purification is the essential prior condition.  The Holy Spirit is the teacher who brings us to this awareness.  Our hearts are therefore to remain open to the influence of the Spirit.

Eucharist

But it is also the Spirit that brings us closer to the mystery of the Eucharist; that “pearl of great price.”  “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into the complete truth” (Jn.16.13).  The Risen Lord promised to be with us always (Mt.28.20).  He is with us today as we celebrate this Eucharist.  His invisible presence is made visible to us through the signs of bread and wine.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s saving power is made effective among us so that we may become genuine witnesses and carry out effectively our Christian duties and commitments.  Through the power of the Spirit, Christ brings us together as a community.  The Church’s unity is rooted in the Eucharist.

Our gathering here as Catholics in celebrating the Eucharist, points to the unity amongst ourselves as Catholics.  But sadly it also points to our partiality as Catholics.  In celebrating the Eucharist as a symbol of our unity, we also heighten the awareness of the divisions among Christians, other religious communities and non-believers.

And so we pray at this Eucharist that God may gather His scattered children into the mystery of communion, into His family.  We pray that religious leaders be accompanied and guided by the Holy Spirit as they seek to forge unity among all God’s children.

We gather in prayer in order to support each other in the faith and with the help of the Holy Spirit to enter more deeply into the mystery of the Eucharist and there encounter Christ.  The Eucharist intimates to the true believer an experience of a moment of eternity; of timelessness whilst being a pilgrim on each.

The Year of Faith which will be inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI in October, and the Renew Africa Project of the Archdiocese should help us to deepen our faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  It should be a time to revitalize our faith, to empower lay people as missionaries in the church, as legitimate partners in mission, to deepen our catechesis, to heighten the value of family, and to rekindle the faith amongst lapsed Catholics.  With the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit – it is possible; it can be done.  It is a duty to be embraced knowing full well that God will provide His grace.

Pentecost, 27/5/2012

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