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Easter VII - A Homily

A few days ago we celebrated the the Feast of the Ascension, when we remembered Jesus’ return to heaven after his resurrection. It was both an end and a beginning. Jesus had completed his Mission, the definitive revelation of God was over, death had blossomed into resurrection, darkness into light. At the Ascension His Mission was handed over to us. Christ’s body disappeared from our sight and we became His body, tasked to act as His feet and hands, His mouth and ears; each in our own way, we are called to continue His work.

After the Ascension, the disciples were told by Jesus not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there ‘for what the Lord had promised’. They spent their time in prayer and preparation, unsure of exactly what would happen next. It was the original ‘Novena’, which has become deeply embedded in our Catholic life and practice - nine days of prayer in preparation for a great feast or in petition for a special grace. The disciples prayed and then at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was outpoured on Mary and the apostles.

This period between Ascension and Pentecost is an ‘in-between time’. We too join ourselves with the apostles, ‘waiting for what the Lord has promised us’. Many Christians make the Pentecost Novena this week, praying that the Holy Spirit will come and bless and challenge us. In the words of Blessed Elena Guerra, who did much to promote the Novena to the Holy Spirit, ’Pentecost is not over. In fact, it is continuously going on in every time and in every place because the Holy Spirit desired to give himself to all and all who want him can always receive him, so we do not envy the apostles and the first believers, we have only to dispose ourselves like them to receive him well, and he will come to us as he did to them.’

Many people participate in a ecumenical, global movement of prayer called Thy Kingdom Come. The Cardinal has also encouraged us to spend time in a vigil of prayer next Saturday and each day this week we make a Novena at the end of Masses.

At this unprecedented time of global challenge, we implore the Holy Spirit to come down on us all and especially on those making decisions for the way ahead. We each individually need the gifts of wisdom and understanding, counsel and fortitude, knowledge, piety and wonder. Is there a particular gift we need? Do we need to be strengthened or comforted in a particular way?

As Pope Francis said recently: ‘We all have a problem and that is that our hearts tend to shrink, become smaller and close up. We can’t solve that problem by ourselves. Only the Holy Spirit can solve it. Come Holy Spirit. And to Jesus, may Your Kingdom come - the Kingdom of the Father that you came to announce.’

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