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Pentecost Sunday 31 May 2020

A Reflection {only view of Aidan Troy}

To be at sea during a storm can be a terrifying experience. Crossing by ferry from Ireland to Scotland in winter is not for the faint-hearted. A storm on that narrow sea often left me praying to reach land safely. The chains on the lorries below deck could be loudly heard straining to breaking point.

From the dawn of Creation God has used His breath and sent the wind to signify the Divine presence and activity. The breath of God got the world going. The seas played a big part in Jonah converting the Ninevites. For Elijah it was the gentle breeze that powerfully carried the presence of God to the prophet.

There is also the human breath that keeps us living. During the present pandemic, one of the saddest restrictions is not being able to hold the hand of a loved one as they breathe their last. That last breath is their farewell to us and their first moment before God. It is a sacred moment. To be far away at that moment cannot be made up for later. It is precious and not repeatable.

On Calvary, St Luke records the final moments, ‘Then Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this He breathed his last.’ (23:46) Jesus did not die alone, because the Father was there. Mary and John and the women were beneath the Cross.

I believe that while these days a   family member cannot hold the hand of their beloved relative, nobody dies alone. God was not absent on Calvary, or absent for any one COVID19 death. 10 people may be the limit at a funeral. There is always one more unseen, Jesus is always present.

Today we witness the divine recreation of our world as the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples huddled together in fear. “Suddenly, they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from Heaven, the noise of which filled the whole house in which they were sitting;’ The greatest effect of the wind was unseen. It changed people fearing for their lives, into fearless witnesses to Jesus.

A full explanation or understanding of this is not possible. Tongues of fire descend on the community and transforms timid people into brave witnesses ready to die for Jesus. As we cannot see wind, so we cannot see the work of the Spirit, not only at the first Pentecost but among us now.

The COVID19 virus cannot be seen which is why we must be so careful in reopening Churches. There are many big churches who have small numbers attending. St Joseph’s is a small church building with a big number of people crossing our doors. Within both big and small churches, like the virus, we do not see the Spirit that is within us and working day and night.

When the Spirit took possession of those first disciples, they unbolted the doors and took the first steps towards carrying the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. The Spirit in you is as powerful as it was on Pentecost Sunday. Visible signs are not be here now, but amazing gifts are received. During this pandemic, the generosity of people reaching out as need arose, has shone as a beacon. At St Joseph’s during the past two months, some people have shared with me their struggles, only bearable by generous supported from others. The virus will die down in time. The Spirit will not but is here to stay. Thanks be to God.


Saint Joseph's Catholic Church
50 Avenue Hoche
75008 Paris, France
33(0)1 42 27 28 56

Designed by Bruno Valades