Tuesday, 19 May 2015


Waiting, longing, inviting, welcoming. These are all sentiments appropriate to our celebrating the feast of Pentecost. Have you noticed how many hymns associated with the Holy Spirit begin with the invitation, “Come?” In recent years we in the Caribbean have learned to love the chorus, ‘Welcome, Holy Spirit, fill us with Your presence.” (Acts I.4).

The Acts of the Apostles tells us that after Jesus had ascended into heaven the apostles gathered together in the upper room where they were staying and that “ With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers,” (Acts.1.14).

Prayer had to be the prelude to Pentecost. By prayer the apostles had to dispose themselves for the outpouring upon them of the Holy Spirit. This gift of the Holy Spirit, promised them by Jesus, would be eagerly, prayerfully, awaited by them.

Prayer had to express their felt need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to rise to the huge expectations Jesus has of them. He had let them know that they were to carry the Good News of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.


And now, in our generation, Pentecost is about individuals such as you and me who together make up the Church. We, as Church, need to be possessed by a belief of such deep conviction, such strong enthusiasm, as to stimulate our willingly, even heroically, bearing witness to Jesus …all that He has done for us… all He wants us to do for Him.

In the Acts of the Apostles (Ch.2.14...) we read of the apostles being filled with the Holy Spirit, and then of their being sent out by the Holy Spirit to preach the full message about Jesus in all its richness.

“Hearing this, crowds of people were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'What are we to do, brothers?' 'You must repent,' Peter answered, 'and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Through this call to repentance God is saying ‘allow me to be merciful to you; just tell me you are truly sorry that you have offended me; seek my forgiveness.’ Jesus, has given us the Sacrament of Reconciliation because God wants to make it easy for us to receive His forgiveness. With a sense of relief we are to savour the wonderful gift of His mercy.

Surely the obvious token of our sincerity and of our gratitude to God must be that we make our peace with others. We are to be merciful to others and are to seek their mercy. Such repentance is a serious, life-changing discipline. ..not - as some would say – a way to make sinning easy for Catholics, (easy to sin… easy to gain absolution…over and over again).

So many of these thoughts have been inspired by “THE FACE OF MERCY” a recent document of Pope Francis He opens with this startling, magnificent, statement, "Jesus Christ is the face of the Father's mercy."

The second paragraph of the text spells this out:

‘We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy: the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.’

And a few paragraphs later he writes ““Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life” (No.10).

This is exciting. This is the spirit of the original preaching at Pentecost. The whole mission of Jesus is described as the out-pouring of, “God’s merciful love.” Repentance removes the obstacles to our receiving His merciful forgiveness.

Our making our peace with God, His conferring His peace on us must impel us to be contrite before those we have offended and forgiving to those who have offended us.

The world of today so desperately needs this ‘Pentecost Breath of Fresh Air’ which Almighty God is channeling to us through Pope Francis.


Peter Clarke, O.P.

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