I am well aware of the fact that not all members of the parish are soccer fans. In fact, I sometimes think that those who do not follow soccer are very fortunate indeed, since they are spared the weekly anguish of following one’s favourite team and usually ending up being disappointed! But it has become an international story over the last week that a practically unknown team from the English Premier League, Leicester City, surprised everyone by winning the Premier League, despite the fact that they had to overcome all the odds to beat teams who are much more wealthy and better known than themselves. So, although it is unlikely that there is a single Leicester City fan in the whole parish, there is a certain joy that sometimes the smaller teams can succeed and prove themselves champions.
After Leicester won the league, I was quite touched by the humility and grace of their manager. He did not want to take the credit of success for himself. Rather, he noted that the surprising success of his team was due to one simple fact: that there were no superstars in their team, but that they had a magnificent team spirit, which helped them to overcome many great difficulties and ultimately succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles, and transformed them from ordinary people into witnesses of the truth of the Gospel, and the Resurrection of the Lord. These first disciples, filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit, went out to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the whole world, and their success did not lie in their own individual holiness or personal gifts, but rather that they were filled with the same Spirit of God.
As Catholics, we too have received the gift of the same Holy Spirit of God through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Despite the fact that each of us remains fragile and weak because of our human condition, we too are spiritually transformed by the Holy Spirit, who endlessly works in and through our own lives. This is our Pentecost gift, that is renewed for us today.
It is vitally important that we recognise and acknowledge that the gift of the Holy Spirit which is given to each of us is not simply the gift of a personal call to holiness. What is more important to accept is that we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, just as the first disciples, in order to bear witness to the joy that comes from being in fellowship with the Risen Christ, and with one another.
This has important implications for our own parish here at Holy Redeemer. We already know that we are blessed in the fact that so many people come to Mass here every week, and that we have many individuals and groups who are committed to serving the parish in many different ways. But the real sign that the Holy Spirit is at work amongst us would be that each and every one of us feels called to bear witness together to the Love of God in our midst.
On this wonderful feast of Pentecost, let it become our parish prayer that we might strive by all means to bear witness to the grace we have received, by the unity and love of our parish life. Let us make every effort to overcome all divisions and difficulties, and to show by the joy in our hearts, that we are completely united as the One Body of Christ, joined together in the love and peace that the Spirit of God offers to bring us into complete unity and harmony.
Fr Gerard, CSsR