With the Twentieth Sunday of the Year we celebrate Jesus the Prophet who knows the cost of witnessing to the truth – so often rejection and persecution. He challenges his disciples (that is, us!) to make difficult choices that many, including those close to us, will not understand. He calls us to have the courage to stand for justice, equality, inclusion of all no matter what opposition or vilification we might experience. The fire He brings to the Earth is the purifying fire of God’s love poured out in the Holy Spirit – a Spirit that renews the face of the earth. Dare we share the Spirit’s work? If we are true to Jesus and the Gospel, if we resolutely stand by the poor and rejected, if we uphold the right of the LGBT+ community to be true to themselves and their identity – then we too must expect to pay the price of discipleship, the cost of being true to our baptism, when we were anointed as Priests of creation, Builders of the Kingdom and Prophets of God’s all-inclusive and universal love. Often that ‘persecution’ will come from those close to us in the family that is the Church!
FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF OUR LADY Resurrection Glory – His or ours?
Jesus famously said of His Father and also of his disciples: ‘Everything I have is yours and everything you have is Mine!’ He also said ‘I have come to bring you Life in all its fullness’.
The Assumption of Our Lady is the fulfilment of these words. His Resurrection, however wonderful, would be a meaningless miracle had it not been also our resurrection, our coming to the fulness of Life. The Assumption is Mary, our sister, our fellow disciple as well as our mother, the great ‘type’ or exemplar of the what it is to be Church, shining with the glory of the Resurrection we all will share. Like so much about Mary, it is not that she is uniquely privileged but rather that God shows us through her all that we are called to become. Her Assumption is the pledge of Christ’s promise to ‘Raise you up’ to Eternal (ie fullness of) Life. His Victory over death is truly ours because it is hers!
FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION IS ALSO HIROSHIMA DAY! Tuesday marks one of the great Feasts of the Lord – His Transfiguration on the mountain of glory – when Jesus’ humanity shone with glory of God and the Father’s voice spoke of Abba’s great love for His Son, Jesus, and the cloud of divine glory (the Holy Spirit) overwhelmed the three apostles. The Glory of God is humanity fully alive: this is what we behold on the mountain, and His Glory is also ours, embedded within our humanity. The Spirit overshadows us so that we too might be ‘fully alive’ and life-giving. It is one of the most tragic ironies that Hiroshima was destroyed by the first Atomic Bomb on this day – destruction and death on a Day of Life! Two days later an all Catholic Air Crew dropped the second Atom bomb, destroying the city and people of Nagasaki, the most Christian and Catholic city of the Orient. Centuries before it was the site of many Catholic Martyrs, crucified for their Faith – in 1946 hundreds of thousands were crucified in nuclear holocaust! Lord that we might transfigure your world with a divine peace and humanity and never again unleash to dark cloud of nuclear destruction of sisters and brothers, of our environment and future generations.
PENITENTIAL READING: Genesis 11: 1-9
The early chapters of the Book of Genesis speak both of the beauty and goodness of creation and how our sin disfigures that creation. They also trace how sin begins with the small act of self-will by Adam and Eve but grows to a level of destructiveness that engulfs all in the Flood. The story of Babel and its tower, which follows the end of the Flood, shows well how humanity has not learnt, and our continued self-will and rebelliousness leads even to the divine gift of language becoming a source of division rather than unity. On Pentecost Day, the nations are reunited in the Market Place by the Universal Tongue of faith … the Holy Spirit heals Babel’s babble of division into a new unity.
FIRST VIGIL READING: Exodus 19: 3-8. 16-20
Our God is the God of Covenant Love. From Noah and Abraham to Moses and Joshua, God is binding the Divine Presence and Plan to the story of a People journeying in Faith. At Sinai the Covenant is witnessed in cloud, fire and storm. But this Covenant reaches its most intense expression as the the apostles, disciples and Mary experience the fullest outpouring of Love in the form of the Mighty Wind of Divine Energy and God’s Love being burned into the hearts and melting them into Unity in Pentecost’s Upper Room.
SECOND VIGIL READING: Isaiah 61: 1-3, 6, 8-9
Jesus was to quote this wonderful Prophecy of Isaiah when he describes his own ministry in the Synagogue of Nazareth. It expresses not only his work in the world – raising up the poor, enlightening rich and poor alike when we are blind to each other plight, serving freedom and human rights everywhere – but also the work of every Christian, and every Christian community anointed by the Spirit. The Spirit seeks to renew and heal the face of the wounded earth and all its peoples – to bring about the endless Jubilee of justice, mercy and joy, the ‘Year of Favour’.
THIRD VIGIL READING: Ezechiel 37: 1-14
The first name for the Spirit in the Bible is the ‘Ruah’, or breath or wind of God. The Upper Room of Pentecost morning was filled with the same mighty wind as that described by Ezechiel in this prophetic vision. The Wind of the Spirit breathes New Life, brings us fully alive in Christ, and enables us to be an ‘army for the Lord’ – an army of peace and healing and life-giving. Let us allow the Spirit to blow through our lives and our community.
FOURTH VIGIL READING: Joel 3: 1-5
Peter quotes from this passage when trying to explain the extraordinary event of God that is Pentecost’s outpouring of life and joy. Even the excluded ones – the slaves, the women – now receive the boundless generosity of God, as all are welcomed to share the dream of God, the Vision of the Kingdom – a world renewed in the Holy Spirit. As we dream and share the vision, so we are empowered to work in the power of the Spirit to make a new world … a world of true Jubilee!
EPISTLE READING: Romans 8: 22-27
The Gift of Tongues is one expression of the groaning of the Spirit deep within us … and deep within creation itself, as Paul tells us. Creation’s freedom and our own are bound together in the Spirit who comes to us in our weakness to be the flame of salvation and hope. In the Spirit we yearn for a freedom that is total.
The Church has instituted two new Feasts for the Universal Church –
 the Feast of Jesus Christ the High Priest, expressing that Jesus is the the Eternal Priest who offers the sacrifice of himself. This is a feast of the Priesthood of all Believers, the profound priesthood that we all share by Baptism and confirmation. It does NOT celebrate ordained priesthood. Ordained ministry serves the Priesthood of every Christian – so this Feast of Christ the Priest challenges us all to offer the sacrifice of our own lives in service of our sisters and brothers, in the service of the whole world and all creation. We are priests of Creation – giving voice to creations praise of God as the psalms so often express.
 the Feast of Mary, the Mother of the Church celebrates that Mary, filled with the Spirit at the Annunciation and once again at Pentecost is the model for all discipleship. God teaches us through her how to be authentic Church, how to give flesh to the Word in our present world, how to lay our lives open to the overshadowing Spirit of God, how to risk everything (as she did) for the love of God and the salvation of our world. She is out mother, our sister, the first and greatest of the disciples – may she guide us to ‘treasure the Word in our hearts’, utter our ‘Yes’ to God’s call in our lives, give Christ to our waiting world, throw wide open our lives to empowering Holy Spirit and how to walk lovingly and gently alongside our sisters and brothers in the Church and indeed all humanity.
CALL TO ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE The greatest threat to humanity in the 21st Century is Global Warming and Climate Change. It is a Christian ethical imperative to act now in our generation for the sake of future generations. The teenager Greta Thunberg said:
“It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make change possible.”
David Attenborough said “ We need to fall in love again with the earth”
Pope Francis said “ God of Love, show us our place in this world as channels of your love for all the creatures of this earth” and “teach us to care for our common home.”
JUNE, THE MONTH OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS A Heart broken for love of all humanity, pierced through with the lance of unconditional love and compassion. A Heart brimming over with a Universal love, an endless Mercy withheld from absolutely no-one. Behold the Man who loves us beyond the breaking of His Heart! The Divine Humanity of God, vulnerable to us, weeping for us, on fire for us. O Sacred Heart of Jesus make our hearts like unto Thine! May our Hearts be on fire for love of the world You so love!
NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT This is the first and greatest Novena of Prayer in the Church’s tradition, opening ourselves and the Church to the mighty wind of the Spirit – the energy for Mission; opening to the Living Water of the Spirit welling up to Life in all its fulness; opening to the Flam and Fire of God’s Spirit that transforms us into flames of Divine Love in the heart of the world. Without the Spirit of God in us we can do nothing for God, without the Spirit of God we have no real life, without the Spirit of God we have no vision for our mission, no energy to serve the Gospel and the Kingdom. COME HOLY SPIRIT!
WHO IS THIS WHO ASCENDS INTO GLORY? Ascension? Some kind of medieval throw-back – a myth that belongs to a ‘flat earth’ past? As if Heaven was up there somewhere! Can we believe in the Ascension in our modern world of Hubble telescopes and deep space exploration?
Yet this is our brother, our flesh, our humanity, gathered up into the Divine, carrying us and all that is human into the very inner life of God, of the Trinity. His ascension is ours, for He carries us with Him, in Him. Ascension is not some weird and divine form of space travel, but rather the wonder of our transformation into a divine humanity. This is the Feast of our human dignity, for we are being ‘divinised’ as the great saints and mystics have dared to say, following the teaching of St John and St Paul.
Forever our flesh is now ‘seated at the right hand of the Father’, sharing the throne of God, utterly caught up in infinite and eternal loving that creates the Universe! No wonder He sends us out with this Good News to tell all the world, all creation!