Tuesday, 10 May 2016


"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord.…"
1Corinthians 12-4-5

As we celebrate the feast of Pentecost we think about the gift of the Holy Spirit, who empowered the apostles to preach the Gospel with wonderful eloquence and courage. At the same time He touched the minds and hearts of their listeners. Each could understand the Good News in his own language. Each received the gift of faith; they believed! This generous out-pouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirits got the infant Church off to a flying start. 

Moreover, the Holy Spirit blesses the Church with many other gifts, as St. Paul tells us,
"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good," (1 Cor. 12. 4-7).

Some gifts, such as speaking in tongues, were more spectacular than others. No surprise this led to rivalries and jealousies! Paul had to reprove the Corinthians and remind them that the one Spirit was the source of their unity amidst their diversity. Whatever the gift, it was for the common good. No matter how spectacular the gift, the greatest of all had to be charity. Without love, the other gifts were worthless.
That insight was a great comfort to St. Terese of Liseaux. She felt so depressed at having no special talents with which she could serve God – until she read St. Paul emphasizing that love was the greatest of all gifts. Loving would be her vocation, as it is ours. It’s vital all of us should realize this!
But sadly, in our materialist world, success tends to be measured by our earning capacity and the status symbols it can buy. But that’s not the only measure.
What a wonderful gift to be warm-hearted, loving and caring! So, too, is being a peacemaker. In fact, one of the Beatitudes tells us that such people are called the children of God –precisely because they are sharing in the work of the Son of God Himself.
A few years ago a university degree was thought to be an essential mark of success and the passport to prosperity. Without a degree you were considered second-rate. That has proved an illusion. Some degrees are worthless. But now we’re shifting our focus to appreciating the value of technical skills and other accomplishments –such as making people laugh or cooking a tasty meal.
Rightly, we say that those with practical skills are gifted. The Bible says God had specially gifted those who constructed the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant,
"He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs,"
(Exod. 35. 35).
Being able to serve the community in any way should be welcomed as a gift from God. All travellers should be grateful to whoever was inspired to put wheels on a suitcase! It’s so important for us to appreciate whatever others have to offer and to give them encouragement.
It can be so destructive and demoralising to despise some and envy others. As a counter-blast to this negative approach Pope Francis wrote, "We rejoice at the good of others when we see their dignity and value their abilities and good works. This is impossible for those who must always be comparing and competing, even with their spouse, so that they secretly rejoice in their failures. (Amoris Laetitia, 109).
So let us rejoice in Gods gift of the Holy Spirit Himself, and the rich variety of gifts, which He has bestowed on different individuals for the good of the whole community.
P.S. The best way to show our gratitude for a gift or talent is for us to use and develop it -not hide and forget it.

Isidore Clarke, O.P.

Monday, 2 May 2016



 “God has ascended with a shout, The LORD, with the sound of a trumpet; Sing praises to God, sing praises; Sing praises to our King, sing praises,” (Ps. 47. 5).

Two momentous leave-takings: the first  violent, traumatic – when Jesus breathed His last and surrendered His life into the loving hands of His Heavenly Father; the other, just forty days later, when He, while  talking to His disciples was taken up and eventually disappeared into a cloud…lost to their sight. This was a joyful separation – cause for praise and thanksgiving, one full of expectation and anticipation.

During this forty day period between the Resurrection and Ascension Jesus had never given His disciples the impression that He intended to settle down with them. Rather, He unpredictably appeared to them and disappeared from them…had meals with them, talked with them.

Above all, else these Resurrection Appearances were social calls, ‘getting to know me’ as the same Jesus, your friend, who had triumphed death; ‘getting to know me’ as the friend who brought you peace even after you’d let me down and betrayed me when I most needed your loyalty and support.

Jesus simply had to firmly anchor down their belief that the Jesus they had known and loved for three years had indeed risen from the dead. It was immensely important to Him that Thomas should overcome His doubt and hesitation. Jesus patiently brought Thomas to the point where he would exclaim, 'My Lord and my God!' to which Jesus added, ‘You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. (Jn. 20.28).    

 With these extraordinary comings and goings for over a month Jesus must have convinced them He was deeply attached to them not only because He had a task, a Mission, for them – to proclaim Him to the whole world. They meant so much to Him, and now so do we, that He longs to extend our ‘togetherness’ with Him way out into eternity.

This permanent Heavenly Future would be nothing like what could ever be experienced here on earth. In fact, it would be what our Heavenly Father had intended when He created the first man and woman. Indeed, to save us for this was precisely the purpose of His Son being sent into this, our world, living for us, dying for us, 

             “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full,(Jn1.10). 

                        And, finally, He ascended to prepare a place for us.

“In my Father's house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am. I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you.  In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see that I live and you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you,” (Jn.14).

Jesus, in the fullness of His humanity – body and soul Ascended into Heaven there to be gloriously present at the place of honour – the Right-Hand Side of His Heavenly Father.  This was a glorious triumph for the whole human family ...the family He had made His own. Jesus wishes to share this with us – you, me, all of us.

As we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven we simply must celebrate the glorious reality that our own mortal, frail, human bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. We are called to live such lives that in and through our human bodies we give great glory to God.  In so doing we  ourselves are to become glorious even now during our lives on earth.

Eventually, at the Last Judgment, our bodies will be reunited to our souls. Then, and there, we shall be once more fully alive in the fullness of our redeemed humanity, body united to soul.  This was a privilege Jesus secured this privilege for His Mother, Mary, by her being  Assumed  into Heaven.

The Ascension of Jesus into Heaven has to be about you and me, every member of the human family. If we embrace the call to lead godly life here and now Jesus will welcome us into a life with God for eternity. Surely this is worth aiming for, worth striving for! 

Peter Clarke, O.P.