This is Pentecost Sunday! It is the end and the climax of the Easter season that began at the beginning of March. We journeyed through Lent, slowly following the last journey of Jesus to the Cross on our Stations of the Cross. We waved our palms, broke our bread, washed our feet and venerated the Cross in Holy Week, before celebrating the great feast of Easter. Then on Ascension Day the Lord left the physical presence he had shared with us, not to abandon us, but to take on a universal presence so that he could be available to us at all times and in all places.
Now, one with the Father, Jesus pours out on us his Holy Spirit. The apostles – and the world – had never experienced anything like it. The nearest they could come to describe it was that it seemed like fire and wind. They were melted in that fire and blown by that wind out into the world to bring Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life to its four corners.
These last years have been astonishing – unlike any others in a long while. Covid and now the war in Ukraine have been something of a car crash. Just as we perhaps thought we in Europe had settled down in our comfortable civilization, sickness tore through our world, and war broke out in our continent of Europe. We have been pulled up short, forced to ask ourselves where we all are and where we are going. The Synod has, in a strange way, come at the right time to show us that this applies to us in the Church too, we are not immune from this false security.
During this period I have been challenged like everyone else, we priests do not have any slick answers to the questions raised by wars and pandemics. What has given me particular strength and sustenance is you, the people of our 3 Churches. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through our little part of the Church. I cannot count the number of times I have been touched by the faith you have proved in all sorts of circumstances, the hope that has kept you going despite the often seemingly insurmountable problems, and then what Pope Francis would call the tenderness of love that you have shown in so many ways.
On this feast of Pentecost, the feast of the Church, thank you to all who have shown to me the meaning of Pentecost, not just in an Upper Room in Jerusalem, but right here in the suburbs of Cardiff.