We come to the great feast of Pentecost, the great feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit strengthens us in 3 different ways:
- In our relationship with Jesus. We all have our heroes in sporting world, in the music world, in politics or history, etc. These are figures we admire but we are not friends with these people. It’s not the same with Jesus, he is a living presence; I have a friend in Jesus. The most important friendship in my life is my friendship with Jesus. If you love your father and mother more than you love me you are not worthy of me. This is how central our relationship with Jesus should be.
- In our capacity to defend the faith. The catholic faith is under attack in our world today. Recently when the Archbishop of Dublin spoke about preserving the dignity of funerals he was criticised as the church imposing its ethos. Every time the church speaks out we are constantly being challenged with our past. We need to preserve the dignity of the sacraments. The most persecuted religion in our world today is Christianity. Look at what happened recently in Sri Lanka and this is a pattern in Africa and Asia. In our western world we are no facing a physical challenge but a more difficult challenge and that is apathy, less people attending mass, shortage of priests, people just do not want to be involved in the church. We need to work together as a faith community, preserve what we have and build on the wonderful community spirit that we have here. We need to pray for a new Pentecost and a renewed church and for this we need to open our minds and hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will be essential in this task. We must defend our faith and the Holy Spirit will strengthen us for this task.
- In our capacity to spread the faith. Every baptised person is a missionary. Our faith is not something private that we hang on to. Because of the shortage of priests and religious, this task is our common task; we need to work together as the Apostles were together with Mary on that First Pentecost morning.