On Saturday 30th May 2020, a private company in the United States of America launched some astronauts into space, the first in nine years in the technologically advanced country. That was a huge feat for science and of humanity. Simultaneously however, America was burning due to huge protests against the murder of a black man George Floyd, by a Minesota policeman. Floyd had been accused of attempted forgery. A four- man police team was called in which arrested and handcuffed him. One of them, a white policeman, then pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck as he lay face down on the sidewalk for over 8 minutes as a bystander recorded the scene. Floyd pleaded for his life as the officer ground into him till he died. His death, not an isolated racist occurrence in America, provoked rarely seen protests and mayhem all over the US. Many Americans wondered how such mindless mayhem could occur in the self-acclaimed greatest country in the world. Tragic that we human beings are able to go into space but are not able to love the neighbour with whom we live! Simply put, America paints a picture of a well-advanced nation that has lost its humanity and soul. It showcases the contradictions that occur when a people drift from God in unbridled pursuit of science and self-serving pleasure. The reality is that devoid of God’s spirit, humanity diminishes and disintegrates. Conversely, the more a nation advances the more of God’s spirit it needs. (Psalm 104:29-30).
In his infinite wisdom God sent down the Holy Spirit at the very beginning to comfort and empower the Church. This is the Pentecost we commemorate. He did the same at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus (Matt 4). That very fact unites the mission and identity of the Church with that of the Son of God. The same Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity about whom we declare in the Creed at every Sunday Mass: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the giver of life…” He is the one whom Jesus promised to his disciples when he said “I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another paraclete to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth …” (Jn 14:16-17). He is the one who descended on the apostles on the day of Pentecost which we remember today in the Acts of the apostles (Acts 2:1ff). Every time a Catholic prays, the Holy Spirit is present at the beginning, in and at the end of that prayer through the sign of the cross “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. That unique identification sign of Christians has no match. Christians must use that sign often and taken it seriously for it works against evil. It reminds us that every Christian who is duly baptized has been given the Holy Spirit to accompany and strengthen him all through life. How good it is to be assured of a strong companion who will guide counsel, strengthen, en-wisdom, empower and encourage us in good and bad times. Like the motto of one of the most popular football clubs in the world, Liverpool FC, it means: “you will never walk alone”.
The Holy Spirit is our assurance that Jesus will never abandon us after all since we know that wherever the Holy Spirit is, there God the Father is and there Jesus is present (Jn 14:1) In fact, the Holy Spirit is the force through which we experience the closeness of Jesus Christ, in healthy times or ailing times, through thick and thin, pandemic or no pandemic. Through him God makes all things new, and restores life to the dead. (Ps. 104:30, Ez. 37).
The Holy Spirit is the force that conquers the exaggerated notoriety of evil forces in the world today. It reminds us that the Lord’s is the earth and its fulness, not the devil’s (Ps 24). If we have the Holy Spirit in us, if we make a home for him in us, we are those to whom those powerful words are addressed. “He who is in you is stronger than he who is in the world” (1Jn. 4:4).
At Pentecost the apostles all heard one another in their different tongues. In our contemporary
Bishop Emmnauel Adetoyese BAdejo
Bishop of Oyo, Nigeria