Pentecost Sunday 2021 – Our Lady’s Shrine, Knock, Killaloe Diocesan Pilgrimage, Sunday 23rd of May
Pentecost evokes the idea or image of book ends on a shelf. A beginning and an end. An alpha and omega. Genesis to St John. The end of Eastertide. The beginning of the birth of the Church.
We wave a nostalgic good bye to the delights of Eastertide but rejoice on this birthday occasion, courtesy of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality in Dollymount in Dublin there is a prayerful and thoughtful stain glass window. It’s an Evie Hone Pentecost depiction. There is a symbol of the Holy Spirit at the top in the form of a dove. All round the disciples are fearful but just under the symbol of the Holy Spirit, Mary is praying, consoling, enthusing, exuding energetic life, so characteristic of the same Spirit. May you be filled with a sense of that in being present with us at Our Lady’s Shrine here at Knock.
At this time in Killaloe diocese alone there are well in excess of 2000 young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The same is true of other dioceses around the country. In these days of pandemic precaution we just don’t know as yet when it will be deemed safe to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation.
On Pentecost Sunday which is the feast of Confirmation, I would like to remember in a special way those young people, their parents and guardians, their godparents and teachers. We look forward to a safe time when the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit will be gifted to them.
The Holy Spirit our Life Breath!
The Holy Spirit is regarded as the oxygen of our faith. Without the Spirit our faith would be lifeless and our human life deprived of that unique pulse or heartbeat which is the fire of God’s Love that the Holy Spirit kindles in each one of us.
On the first Pentecost day, the coming of the Holy Spirit had all the air of a revivalist gathering when the Spirit accompanied by a powerful wind came down on the apostles in tongues of fire.
Wind and fire, we can imagine the effect of wind on fire and it had that effect on the apostles – they were inflamed, caught up in fire and empowered to spread God’s Message like wild fire to the entire world.
The Power of the gentle breeze
Our lives in comparison may be a bit tamer when it comes to the fire of the Spirit. We may shy away from a bible-thumping approach and the more extravagant forms of being led by and empowered by the Holy Spirit. No, maybe the Holy Spirit that is in us is not so much a powerful wind force but more a gentle breeze. There is room for the gentle breeze too as it effectively fans the reluctant fire of love in us.
There is a lot to be said for the gentle breeze and I like to think of Jesus in those after Resurrection appearances to his apostles. He didn’t huff and puff but rather he breathedgently on his apostles. I like to see it as Jesus giving the kiss of life to his apostles who deadened by fear needed the oxygen of the Spirit to revive their drooping spirits.
Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Thinking today of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and applying them to our lives at this crucial time of re-emerging from lockdown one can clearly see how the Kiss of life that is the Holy Spirit is so needed today. Without going through the entire list of gifts and fruits of the Spirit, one easily sees our need to be given new life by the Spirit:
- We need Wisdom to be breathed into us so that we will emerge from lockdown with the ability to know how to behave in a manner that is safe to self and others.
- In these troubling fragile times we need Courage to be able to go forward in hope and not to be overcome by fear.
- Think of a near-drowning person who is saved by the kiss of life and you realise that joy must have entered their saved life in a new way. I think of the vaccination project as the Joy of the Spirit entering our lives in a new and meaningful way.
- Two other gifts that the Holy Spirit beams down on us are Patience and Love. Already, I mentioned all those awaiting Confirmation this year and undergoing an almost enforced patience (they cannot but wait). Patience, patience and more patience – we need to practice it more and more each day.
- Love is something we all need and we praise God for wherever we find it in our lives. Love responds to love and so we ask the Holy Spirit to heal the love within us that may be damaged or has become stagnant in any way. The spark of love may indeed have gone out in someone’s life but the embers remain and it is that residue of love that the Holy Spirit will breathe on today and enable you to bring love back into your life.
As we bid farewell to the joys and challenges of Eastertide 2021 may the flame of the birthday candle of the Holy Spirit burn brightly for you today and always.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.