, 02 June, 2020 / 9:38 AM
On Pentecost Sunday, various Church leaders in Africa, in separate forums, reflected on the need to have a “common language of love”, an attitude and spirit that “conquers all" challenges of life including those occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic.
In their respective messages on Pentecost Sunday, May 31, the Catholic leaders highlighted the value of the Holy Spirit that descended upon the apostles on Pentecost Day, encouraging the people of God in their jurisdictions to show solidarity to one another in the face of the pandemic.
In his Pentecost message titled “Only Love Conquers All”, Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo diocese begins by reflecting on the latest events in the United States of America.
In his May 31 reflection shared with ACI Africa, Bishop Badejo recalls that “on Saturday 30th May 2020, a private company in the United States of America launched some astronauts into space” and describes the accomplishment as “a huge feat for science and of humanity.”
Reflecting on the “huge protests against the murder of a black man George Floyd, by a Minesota policeman” who had been accused of attempted forgery.
“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 U.S,” the Nigerian Bishop recounts and adds, “Many Americans wondered how such mindless mayhem could occur in the self-acclaimed greatest country in the world.”
The 58-year-old Bishop regrets “that human beings are able to go into space but are not able to love the neighbor with whom we live.”
The events in the U.S., Bishop Badejo reflects referencing Psalm 104, showcase “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.”
“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 fullness, not the devil’s,” Bishop Badejo reflects, citing Psalm 24.
He continues in reference to the first letter of St. John, “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.’”
The Nigerian Prelate who is also the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) emphasizes that 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.”
“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,” he says.
On Pentecost Sunday, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese said, “We fail to make very significant progress because we still don’t speak a common language of love.”
Archbishop Kaigama who was presiding over Mass at the Church of Assumption in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja clarified, “The language we speak is of war, superiority, pride, prejudice, hatred, threats, discrimination, etc. instead of the language of the Holy Spirit which is the language of love and forgiveness.”
He continued, “We have the tendency to ignore or look down on people we think don’t have much to offer.”
He encouraged the people of God to cultivate an attitude of togetherness in the spirit of Pentecost because the event “reminds us not to look down on anyone. Do not be possessed by your beauty, knowledge, strength, wealth, stardom.”
In his reflection, the Nigerian Prelate noted that “the Spirit, which dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple should move us to unity, communal living, harmony and service.”
“Let this Pentecost be a very strong reminder that we are made for one another. We need one another. No one is an island. The Holy Spirit is the source of our unity in diversity,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
Meanwhile, presiding at the Pentecost Sunday Vigil Mass, the Archbishop of Maputo in Mozambique said, “The Church to which we are part is a community of brothers (and sisters) who love each other, despite cultural and ethnic differences.”
“The spirit of God is present in the Church,” Archbishop Francisco Chimoio said and added, “Before Pentecost, we had only a closed group within four walls unable to overcome the fear of taking risks, without the initiative and courage of the testimony.”
And after Pentecost, the member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin continued during the celebration that was broadcast live on Radio Maria Mozambique, “We have a united community that surpasses its human limitations and assumes itself as a community of love and freedom.”
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa