Selection of the sermons of Father Ezekiel Oko

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Sermon for Pentecost in the reading year: B

The spirit moves, even today!

Dear sisters and brothers, today we celebrate a special feast in the church. We celebrate the birthday of the church. On that day, Jesus fulfilled His promise to send His disciples a Helper "to abide with you forever" (John 14:16). The disciples had to wait for the fulfillment of this promise before they were sent.

The coming of the Holy Spirit is therefore the completion of the preparatory phase for discipleship for the disciples of Jesus at that time. On the day of Pentecost not only the reception of the Holy Spirit took place, but also the activation of the mission of the disciples, as representatives of Jesus, as ministers of the Good News. The day of Pentecost is therefore the birthday of the Church. Because from that day on, the disciples began to work together as servants of the Good News. Thus the church was born.

We see the need for the Holy Spirit for discipleship when we think of the difference between the condition of disciples before and after receiving the Holy Spirit. Before receiving the Holy Spirit, they sat anxiously and uncertainly with the doors locked. But they were very different after receiving the Spirit: enthusiastic and full of courage. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the disciples dared to tell about Jesus. They proclaimed the good news without fear of the Pharisees.

They were so enthusiastic that they convinced many of the Christian faith. Since that event, Jesus' disciples have united in proclaiming the Good News. The meaning of the church consists in this common task.

Dear sisters and brothers, without that spirit that helped the disciples to overcome their fears, that spirit that made their languages ​​understood by one another, there would have been no church. And it is also true to say that there would be no discipleship without the help of the Holy Spirit.

That means you and I cannot be disciples of Jesus if we lack the Holy Spirit. This is also the meaning of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Everyone who wants to be a disciple of Jesus must receive the Spirit of God. There is no other way. Why?

The conviction to serve the gospel is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are three important words heard in today's readings: fire, speech and unity. These are words that signify the work of the Holy Spirit.

We understand fire here in connection with enthusiasm. When you're excited about something, let's say he's passionate about it. Enthusiasm has to do with deep conviction. One cannot be passionate about something if there is no deep conviction about it. The conviction for the good news comes only through personal experience of this message. The Holy Spirit enables us to experience the love of Jesus for ourselves. Then we are deeply convinced that his love is real.

The second sign - different languages ​​- has to do with the diversity of people. People from all nations with different languages ​​were there on the day of Pentecost when Jesus' disciples received the Spirit. There were women and men from all races and from different languages ​​at this event. But they could hear the disciples proclaiming the great deeds of God in their tongues. They could understand the disciples' speech in their mother tongues.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, the disciples proclaimed the Good News in a language that people of all races and different languages ​​could understand. This language is called the language of love. Love is a language that everyone can understand, regardless of where they come from, what language they speak or the color of their skin. Love is the language of the Gospel, the language of discipleship. Without the Holy Spirit we can never master this language. It then enables the unity that we heard about in the second reading. The spirit of unity!

If we look at the church today, if we look at the state of the Christian faith in the world, maybe we could think the Spirit is gone. When many today say, "I don't understand my church anymore, I don't understand the church anymore!", they may mean that it (the church) lacks the spirit that makes its proclamation of the Good News understandable for today's world might. She lacks the language of love!

Yes, we know how challenging it is to be a disciple of Jesus today in an increasingly secular society where many people view talk about God as old school. In this society, the church and what it has to offer seem irrelevant. Even then, in the time of the early church, the Christian faith was in the minority. The difference lies in the enthusiasm and courage with which they proclaimed the gospel and in the language of love that made their message appealing. Those who did not immediately understand the words of her preaching were amazed and convinced of her love.

The Holy Spirit gives us this enthusiasm; he gives us the courage and love that make the gospel credible. The church needs this spirit. And when I speak of the church, I don't mean the structures, I mean us who are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. We need the Holy Spirit!

Our world and our church need people who accept Jesus' commission and who work with courage and enthusiasm for peace and justice. Let us be bold, let us dare and let the Spirit of God guide and inspire us. If we (if I let myself) be enlivened and encouraged by the Spirit of God, something new can arise in our life, in our discipleship, and what has been tried and tested can continue to have an effect.

Gospel of Pentecost in the reading year B;

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

John 20,19-23

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[3] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”