“We were made to be God’s children, it is in our DNA.
Historically and traditionally, the Jews originally celebrated the feast of Pentecost on the 50th day after the Passover feast. This was a post-harvest thanksgiving feast in remembrance of God’s covenant with Noah after the Flood and Moses at Mount Sinai. It was a feast of the chosen people.
Christians celebrate Pentecost to commemorate the anniversary of the descent (outpouring) of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples, including His mother, Mary, in the upper room. This falls on the 50th day after the resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Liturgically, this feast marks the end and the goal of the Easter season. The Paschal Mystery (passion, death, resurrection & ascension of Jesus Christ) culminates in the sending of the Holy Spirit by the Father on the disciples.
Ecclesiologically, Pentecost commemorates the official inauguration of the Christian church with the apostolic preaching of St. Peter. This resulted in the conversion of 3,000 Jews to the Christian faith. We celebrate the official birthday of the Church today!
The first reading gives an account of the event of the Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit as fiery tongues - a bizarre circumstance that led to the transformation of the frightened apostles into fiery preachers and evangelizers as they were given the gift of tongues. Neophytes (new converts) experienced fresh anointing as they also received the Holy Spirit. It consequently inspirited the early Christians to become powerful and fearless witnesses and brave martyrs for their faith in Jesus.
Every Christian is therefore encouraged to be open and make themselves available for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Just cooperate with the prompting of the Holy Spirit to "renew the face of the earth." The Holy Spirit is the driving force behind your vocation as a Christian. There is nothing you can do without it.
The Apostle Paul in the second reading explains how sharing the various spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit enriches the Church and enlightens us with the truth that these varieties of the gifts are for the common good. It is for complementarity and for fraternal solidarity. Operate with your gift in the Church to support one another. It is not for scattering but for gathering!
Finally, in our gospel reading, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit unto His disciples to empower them to be up to the task of continuing His mission. He gave them the authority to forgive or not to forgive. Meaning, through the sacraments we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news and to evangelize people. We also have the obligation to allow reconciliation, when it's needful. As a Christian, permit the Holy Spirit to drive your life and your life will never be the same. Don't resist the Holy Spirit!
Stay Safe... Be Healthy... PRAY... Keep the Faith...
Let the Spirit lead...
THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD
“Out of compassion for us He descended from Heaven
In life one of the hardest things to do is to part ways with a loved one. But what makes it hopeful is when there is a promise of seeing each other in the future. A circumstance which does not only bring tears and sadness, but also reminisce the wonderful memories shared together. Such was the situation of Jesus Christ and His disciples.
Forty days after His glorious resurrection, Jesus Christ ascends to Heaven to assume His position at the right hand of God the Father. Before this time, He revealed Himself to His Apostles and visited them many times to strengthen their faith and forestall any despair in them. This was to prove His divine powers and also to give evidence to His followers to spur them on to continue His mission here on earth. Hence, the ascension message: “Preach the Good News and be my witnesses.”
Our first reading describes the scenes of Jesus’ Ascension. The promise of the Holy Spirit and the instruction to be witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth.
Dear Family in Christ, by extension and through the reception of the sacraments we have also become disciples of Christ, so we have the right to receive the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we need to go out there in our families, amongst friends, work places and in our societies to be authentic witnesses by proclaiming the Good News and evangelizing people. By doing this we become the living evidence of the perpetuation of the mission of Christ. Let your words and actions do the witnessing. Walk the talk!
Apostle Paul in our second reading continues his exhortation and affirmation about who Jesus Christ is. By this he implies that our openness to God the Father and the Holy Spirit will enliven and fortify our knowledge and faith in Jesus. So he proves that God revealed His might in the resurrection and the ascension of Christ: thereby exalting Him over all angelic forces. A point that refutes all criticism and false doctrines about the divinity of Jesus.
Hence the psalmist proclaims: ”All you people, clap your hands, shout to God with cries of gladness. For the Lord, the Most High, the awesome, is the great king over all the earth.” (Psalm 47:2-3)
Finally, Our gospel narrative brings to the fore Jesus’ last words to His disciples and the scene of His ascension. This culminates God the Father’s divine plan for His Son to return upon the completion of His earthly mission.
The Ascension, therefore, becomes the grand finale of His words and works done for us and for our salvation. He is now with God the Father in glory and with us in the Holy Spirit.
As His disciples we have been mandated and entrusted with the mission of preaching and teaching the Good News and evangelizing the whole world by bearing witness to Him through our lives. You are the apostles of this 21st century: make an impact in somebody’s life today!
Stay Healthy... PRAY.... Keep the Faith...Enjoy the Sunshine....
Let Witnessing Ascend you!
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
“Only in Christ men and women find answers to the ultimate questions that trouble them.
The project of spreading the gospel message of the resurrected Christ continued unabated despite the opposition and persecution the missionaries faced. The consistent and persistently persevering approach which the early church fathers employed yielded a massive growth and expansion in membership extending beyond the territories of the Jews to the Gentile world.
This was a development which was characterized by not only the resilience of the message bearers, but also supported by the miracles that accompanied their work. It was a clear manifestation of the Divine approval of their ministry, a testimony which mesmerized and bizarrely confounded all opposition and emboldened the missionaries.
Our readings today add extra insight into this mission of preaching the Good News of salvation by throwing more light on our identity, purpose, and how we can experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christians. Meaning, it shows us how to succeed in this work of spreading the Kingdom of God, and that the Holy Spirit plays a vital and indispensable role. The Holy Spirit is a “conditio sine qua non” (a needful force) in the preaching of the Word of God. So open up and avail yourself of it. Just cooperate!
Hence, in the first reading, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, Deacon Philip preached powerfully to Samaria, accompanied by signs. This lead to a massive conversion. The baptized Samaritans, through the imposition of hands by the Apostles, received the fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ, to be a good Christian you need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Know also that the Church has the indwelling of this Divine power. It is not only actively received in the sacraments, but also makes Church authority sacred, the media through which the Divine mysteries flow.
The Apostle Peter, in the second reading, in the heat of oppositions and persecutions, bolsters the hope and the faith of the believers, urging them to continue to do the good. Life adventures can sometimes shake and scare you, tempting you to compromise your faith values. But allowing and maintaining a solid relationship with the Holy Spirit will enable you to still remain God-fearing, clear in conscience in the the midst of oppositions and suffering.
Lastly, Jesus clearly makes it known that the Holy Spirit is a gift from God the Father to those who obey His commandments of Love. He is the Paraclete and Advocate who guides our ways, instructs our hearts, illumines our minds, inspires our actions, and enables us to persevere in times of weakness and uncertainty.
The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to help us grow towards maturity and wholeness, because everyone has sins/faults that prevent them from progressing. Indeed, it is the continued presence of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit that brings meaning and purpose to all we are and all we do in His Name as Christians.
Start preparing yourself to renew the active presence of the Holy Spirit in you!
Stay healthy....PRAY...Keep the Faith...See you on Facebook live!
Let the Spirit lead!
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
"Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure."
The impact of the resurrection of Christ is yielding fruitful results in the life of the new converts. A situation which has led to the building up of a Faith community among the Jews and the non-Jews.
Our first reading talks about the need for appointing individuals to offer services amongst them so that the apostles could concentrate on the preaching of the Good News (Word of God). This means that in no way should the Word of God suffer at the expense of other services. In fact, in our Churches (Tri-Parish) and families (the Domestic Church), the Word of God ought to be an indispensable priority. It plays a pivotal centrality around which everything revolves. (That's why I am happy that in these C19 pandemic circumstances we are still able to bring the Holy Mass and the Word of God to our parishioners through a different medium).
Dear family, our readiness and willingness to serve our faith community (especially our Tri-parish) and our individual families is key to strengthening and perpetuating our mission as Christians in our immediate society. We are called to avail ourselves to offer our time, talent and treasure to support the worthy cause of the Church (Tri-parish). This engenders and nurtures our Christian values and virtues in this world. Each of us has a place to offer their services. Just voluntarily declare your intention.
That's why in the second reading Apostle Peter inspires us that we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people. It is therefore our responsibility to proclaim the mighty act of Jesus Christ; out of His death and resurrection He has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
If Christ has given us this honor and privilege, and changed our status, it then becomes incumbent upon us to offer all that we have at His service to ensure the faith community grows from strength to strength. We are called to place our faith and trust in the spirit of Jesus who guides the community of faith (like our Tri-parish).
In conclusion, Jesus Christ in the gospel reading allays our fears and wipes away our doubts when we are skeptical of whether we are worthy to offer our service in the faith community or how to be accepted.
He inspires us that He is the way, the Truth and the Life, and no one goes to the Father except through Him. This means that before we can offer service in our community of faith we need to believe Him, trust Him, accept Him as the Son of God the Father. He is the image of the invisible God in our midst.
Know that every baptized Christian (Catholic) has been sent on a mission to proclaim the good works of the Risen Lord. How you consciously, actively and fully participate in the community of faith (your parish), whichever way you can offer your service to promote its growth and development to evangelize the society and bring salvation to all, depends on you. Don't sit unconcerned; be responsible, be part of it, show love and care, offer your quota. Ask yourself, "What can I do?" And avail yourself. Think about this.
Enjoy the sunshine.... Keep the Faith...Stay Healthy...PRAY (remember it's ROSARY month)
Be Blessed... Let's meet at Holy Mass on Facebook.
THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
(Good Shepherd Sunday, World Day of Prayer for Vocations)
"God has, in fact, thought of us from eternity and has loved us as unique individuals.
Today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. It's World Day of Prayer for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. The image of the Good Shepherd is employed to showcase the relationship between us and Jesus Christ. This concept is borrowed from the Old Testament which describes the caring relationship between God and His people Israel.
(Download the official World Day of Prayer for Vocations prayer card HERE.)
Peter, in the first reading, boldly indicated that salvation comes from nowhere other than through Christ Jesus, who is the good shepherd, whom the authorities rejected and crucified. But through His wounds we have been redeemed of all the effects of sin and have been brought back to the Chief Shepherd. Based on this the Apostles preach the good news of the resurrection and heal in His name.
So in the second reading John wrote to the Judeo-Christian community to defuse the false doctrines among them. Some refused to accept the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus and also denied the redemptive value of Jesus’ death. He affirms that we have the privileges of being the children of God through His son Jesus Christ. We must live as such by listening to the voice of His son, Jesus Christ, and follow Him.
Lastly, in the Gospel reading Jesus uses the image of the good shepherd to describe Himself and His relationship with us. As the good shepherd He knows us individually. He guides and protects us. He loves us personally and intimately. However, He does not force us to listen to His voice. It's only an invitation to follow Him freely, it's a choice to respond or not, for not only a fullness of life but also fullness of His life.
Beloved in Christ, our challenge is to recognize His voice and respond accordingly with knowledge and trust of this good Shepherd. We must answer His call in faith, with gratitude and loyalty. Just follow where He leads you to.
We also have the responsibilities to be good shepherds in our relationships, families and society by our words and deeds as we live a trustworthy life.
In most overwhelming situations in your life like this COVID-19 take consolation and strength from what the Psalmist has said, ”The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” Psalm 23:1. He knows you by name. He has not forgotten about you!
Remember to pray for vocation to the priesthood and to the permanent diaconate. Pray also for your priests and appreciate them.
Just be a good sheep! The Good Shepherd loves you deeply.
Be safe... PRAY... Keep the Faith... Stay Healthy...
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.