"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Sunday 12 June 2011



Today we heard two accounts of the coming of the Holy Spirit. According to John it was Jesus himself, the risen Christ, who on Easter Sunday evening appeared in the room where ten of the Twelve were gathered and breathed on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Through the Spirit’s presence in their lives they will share in his passion and death, they will bring his peace to the world and they will have power over sin. Just as God’s creative breath gave life at the beginning of creation, so now, in the fullness of time, the Word made flesh gives new life to those who are born of water and the Spirit. “Of his fullness we have all received, grace in return for grace.”

            According to Acts the Spirit was given at Pentecost, seven weeks after Passover and Easter. The feast of Weeks was a pilgrimage feast when pious Jews would come to Jerusalem. While the disciples were there they received the Spirit, charismatically manifested in the speaking of tongues. While John links the coming of the Spirit to the Paschal mystery and God’s recreation through the Word made flesh, Luke, the author of Acts, links the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the feast of Pentecost, highlighting the central place of that outpouring in the history of salvation.

Originally an agricultural festival of thanksgiving, Pentecost came to symbolise and celebrate the great things God had done for his people throughout history. Whereas the Exodus was commemorated at Passover, Pentecost came to recall God’s giving the covenant to Israel at Sinai, that key moment when Israel was called to be God’s own people. In Christ a new Israel, a new people of God, the Church, came into being through faith and baptism in the Holy Spirit. For Christians Pentecost is a new creation.

In depicting the theophany on Sinai the book of Exodus includes thunder and smoke. Philo, the first century Jewish writer, describes angels taking what God said to Moses on the mountaintop and carrying it out on tongues to the people below in the plain. Acts, with its description of the sound of a mighty wind and tongues of fire, echoes that imagery and so presents the new Pentecost in Jerusalem as the renewal of God’s covenant, once more calling a people, this time all peoples, to be his own. On Sinai God made his covenant with the people of Israel, whereas in Jerusalem many nations were present. Acts gives a long list of them, thus anticipating the evangelising work of the early Church, the preaching and mission of the apostles. “All flesh will see the glory of God.”

So when did the Holy Spirit come, at Easter or at Pentecost? The answer is that, like the waves of the sea, the Spirit is always coming.

            According to John the Spirit had not been given as Christ had not yet been glorified. The coming of the Spirit is linked to the glorification of Jesus. The Incarnation lies at the very heart of salvation history, at the very heart of the meaning of life and of God’s plan for all that exists. And yet, from the very beginning of creation the Spirit was there just as the Word was there. “All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made.” 

Christ’s work, his mission and purpose, was to recapitulate all things in himself and reconcile all men with God. He did this through the power of the Spirit, the same Spirit he gave to his disciples when he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And it was the same Spirit the first Christian community received on the feast of Pentecost, with the mission to preach the Gospel throughout the world, bringing everyone to salvation through faith in Christ risen and glorified.

Since then the constant prayer of the Church has been “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” – Come, Holy Spirit. We should use that prayer always. When we pray for mercy and grace, it is the Spirit we are asking for. In every sacrament it is the Spirit we receive and it is the Spirit who makes all things possible. God created us to be filled with his Spirit, the Spirit of life, of beauty and of truth, to be filled with his own life, to become one with him.

Today let us thank God for his love by showing God our love for him and for each other and by opening our hearts and minds, our bodies and souls, to receive once more his greatest gift. Come, Lord Jesus. O Holy Spirit, come. Alleluia. Amen.

Many of these troops have recently returned from Afghanistan.

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