On this first Sunday in June, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Pentecost and significantly, within the next two weeks, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
Our faith is grounded in our belief in God Almighty, Christ our Lord and Saviour and in the Divine Advocate, the Holy Spirit of God. Each is distinct from the other, yet it has been revealed to us that they are One and the same, three Persons in One God.
When the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles on that first Pentecost, He imbued them with the strength and courage to spread the Word of God to all corners of the earth, to fulfil the mandate given to them by the Resurrected Christ. Today, as we celebrate the ‘birthday’ of the Church, it is important that we take stock of ourselves, for we are the living members of the Body of Christ. We are the heirs of that early mandate, and we are the sons and daughters of the Father.
This is a good time to ponder one of the great gifts bequeathed to us, one that we may sometimes take for granted—the universality of the Church.
Although we are spread throughout the world and speak different languages and have unique cultural practices, we all celebrate Holy Mass in the same way.
We recognise our unity of belief, we consolidate our identity as members of the same earthly Body of Christ and derive great comfort in our ‘kinship’, regardless of where we may find ourselves on the globe, as we join our brethren in this highest form of worship of our God.
We see, in our fellow non-Catholic Christians, that though we may differ from them in some aspects of belief and practice, we are on the same journey to God. The faith of many of our Christian brothers and sisters, in our time and through the ages, serves as a bulwark against the cynicism of the world and provides us with the added strength to persevere in our own efforts to be united with our God.
To add to our blessings in this country, we recognise and respect the sincerity of our non-Christian fellow citizens as they, too, seek to serve the Almighty and to be joined to Him in His glory and majesty.
They are also children of the same living God, and He has granted us the gift of living and growing together, different in belief but united in our quest to find, serve and love Him.
Guided and fortified as we are by the Holy Spirit, we are nevertheless capable of turning our backs on the very source of the grace that leads to our longed-for unity with our God.
We are members of the body of Christ but where Christ is perfection embodied, we as Church have been guilty of serious sin and scandal, not only in the more distant past but in our own time, too.
The revelations of child abuse, sexual abuse, and financial impropriety by Church officials and by people entrusted with the wellbeing of children and the aged that have been laid bare are sources of deep sorrow and shame and are burdens which we all share as universal Church.
Locally, too, allegations of serious wrongdoing bear honest, even painful investigation. We dare not deafen ourselves to the urgings of the Spirit in this and every other regard.
The Holy Spirit creates in us the recognition that we are children of God and “… coheirs with Christ”. May this Pentecost renew our faith and our resolve to keep the commandments of the Father.
We are not created for evil but for good, not for destruction but for the eternal joy that comes with the love of God and unity with Him, One with the Son and the Holy Spirit.