By Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
Today we celebrate the Pentecost Sunday. Biblically, it is a day in which the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ with its numerous gifts. Today as always true Christian faithful are reminded to leave themselves open to the reality of the Holy Spirit and its gifts. Today as ever sincere Christians empty themselves spiritually to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. By maintaining a holy life these Christians allow those numerous gifts of the Holy Spirit to manifest in their everyday words and actions.
In the history of the Old Testament world, Pentecost was purely a Jewish feast. Usually this feast was celebrated to commemorate the liberation of the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. The initial name given to this feast was tabernacle and it was celebrated 50 days after the Passover. Traditionally the apostles gathered to celebrate this customary feast before the great event of all ages took place; an event which changed the course of history; an incident which literally implied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
This historic descent of the Holy Spirit on Christ’s followers is concisely depicted in the Acts of the apostles and it reads, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place; suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be like tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enables them” (Acts 2:1-4).
Prior to this event one may rightly presume that Jesus himself the source of this event had experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit in his earthly nature. In the letter to the Hebrews, the Catholic edition of the New Testament bible has it thus “He groaned in the spirit” (Heb. 5:7). Referring to Christians after the Pentecost phenomenon St, Paul in this great book uses the same words of Romans 8:26 where he affirmed that, “The spirit intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express”.
On the action of the Holy Spirit on this first Pentecost the bible remarked ornately as Luke wrote, “When the crowd heard the disciples speaking of God’s great deeds of power in their own native Language, they were amazed and asked one another, ‘What does this mean? Others said, ‘They are filled with new wine!” But Peter stood up and raising his voice said, “These are not drunk; it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No! This is what was spoken of by the Prophet Joel. “In the last days, ‘God said, I will pour out my spirit on all mankind” (Acts 2:7). To the first converts and to you and me Peter clarified, “The promise of the spirit is for you, for your children, for all who are far away, for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Him.” (Acts. 2:39). Indeed, this call is for every citizen of this world; it is for every Nigerian and in reality for every Imolite.
The hallmark of the whole Pentecost event was when Peter spoke to the crowd about this Jesus whom they crucified. It was recorded that when they heard his words they were caught to the heart and remorsefully asked Peter and the other disciples saying, “What shall we do to be saved? Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, then you will receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:41-47). The first step in the reception of the Holy Spirit is contrition and exculpation, otherwise known as sacramental confession. This message is for you out there Christian or Muslim, it is for me and it is for every man and woman in this great Country.
As we face the ugly attacks of Boko Haram in the North streaming speedily to the South one sees the urgent need to implore God’s mercy. Daily our hearts are heavy and our eyes are filled with tears as we watch our dear brothers and sisters in Igboland being massacred by Herdsmen and at times in the name of religion. Think of many other vices like corruption among our leaders in various spheres, those who sit on the files of junior workers; landlords who keep increasing the rent of their houses, Tenants who refuse to pay house rent and some who vandalize the house, student who depend on sorting to pass exams, Christians who hate each other with passion etc, all are called upon to repent and embrace the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Think of the looters of government properties, the hired and ritual killers, robbers and kidnappers, all these people are reminded to repent, mend their ways and return to Jesus.
This year’s Pentecost Sunday should be special in the life of every Nigerian and particularly every Imolite. In the midst of the current hardship being experienced by all and sundry, God is calling us to repent and accept the Holy Spirit and the accompanying peace. The Liars, gossips, backbiters and rumour mongers are called upon to come back to God, the dupers and Yahoo-boys are invited to be remorseful and patch up their ways to avoid imminent wrath of God. Let the violent wind of the Holy Spirit blow away all traces of evil and darkness in our hearts. Let the violent wind of Pentecost dispel all traces of bribery, corruption, insensitivity and lack of compassion in this land. Let the violent wind of the Pentecost scatter all forms of inactivity, favoritism, corner-cuttings and God-Fatherism that have destroyed the free flow of governance in this country.
The governors, senators, the federal and state assembly men and women, our commissioners, advisers, special and ordinary assistants, the Ezes in the 4th tier government, the town union presidents, local community leaders etc are expected to open their hearts and minds to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Let that wind of transformation envelop our country, our states, our villages, our Churches and our respective families. At this point, we pray fervently that the Holy Spirit intervenes in the situation of things in the Catholic Church particularly in Ahiara diocese.
Like the apostles, Christians of every denomination have gathered today to pray in their own manner that God will release the Holy Spirit like the tongues of fire on the heads of every citizen of this great country, believers arid non believers alike, Christian and non Christians alike. We gather to pray for the release of the Holy Spirit on the present administration in the country which is in dare need of a clear vision. We pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our current leaders in both the civil society and the Church as it guided the early missionaries so that they may embrace fully the cost and challenges of true leadership.
It was Pope Paul VI who once said that he desired that the leaders see the action of the Holy Spirit not as a movement in the Church alone but rather as a movement in the whole wide world. Nigerians should wake up individually and collectively to say no to any form of social sin and perpetuate the fruits of the Pentecost by dint of moral rectitude. Let us all make a firm resolution today to allow the Holy Spirit to fill our minds and hearts with God’s love and lead us to that desired complete truth.
Today as we celebrate this great feast, let us decide to allow the Holy Spirit to be in control of our thoughts, words and actions in both private and public places. May the light of the Holy Spirit enlighten the dark places of our lives as we march unto the glory of God in His heavenly kingdom. Happy Pentecost Sunday to every Nigerian .