Fr. John’s Letter – 23rd May 2020

Dear Parishioners of St Jerome’s and St Anne’s

‘Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son’

These beautiful words found in the Gospel of John in today’s Mass set the scene for the remaining days of the Easter Season. Jesus has returned to his Father. One promise of Jesus remains to be fulfilled; that when he returns to his Father ‘I will send you the Advocate who will remind you of all that I have taught you’. It is time for us all to prepare for the great Feast of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, which occurs next Sunday.

Why do we need to prepare ourselves for this great Feast? The answer is found in the Acts of the Apostles. After Jesus had ascended into heaven, we are told that the Apostles gathered in the Upper Room with a number of devout women, including Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Why were they there? To await the fulfilment of the promise of Jesus. They remained there together, waiting patiently.

Did they have any idea of what was to happen? Not at all. How did they spend those days together? ‘In prayer’ we are told. I am sure that there were many conversations also about all that had happened to them. But when the Apostles were committing their memoirs to the written word, it was the prayer together that they remembered.

By tradition, the number of days that transpired between the Ascension of the Lord and the coming of the Holy Spirit was Nine. The Latin word for Nine is ‘Novem’. It is from this Latin word that we derive the word ‘Novena’. Nine days of prayer, which imitates the first ever Novena, the days spent by the Apostles and devout women in prayer, awaiting the Holy Spirit.

‘Glorify your Son’. This is the prayer of Jesus to his Father. The prayer was answered. How? The Father raised his Son from the dead and received him triumphantly into heaven. But this is not the only glory that Jesus receives. His true glory is seen in the lives of his disciples. The true identity of Jesus, the saving power of his teaching is not seen in words, but in the lives and deeds of his brothers and sisters. This is the glory Jesus seeks, this is the glory he asked of his Father.

So, how then should we prepare for this Feast? I would like to suggest that we keep it simple. To ask the Holy Spirit to remind us of everything that Jesus taught us. Then, understanding that teaching, asking for this grace;  Father, you sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. Send Him to us also, and glorify your Son in us. Help us to understand that as powerful as words can sometimes be, it is actions and deeds that convert others and convince them of your existence.

Are we ready to be reminded of this great truth? In a world jaded by words, false promises and broken promises, so many are in need of the gentle presence of Jesus who moved among the crowds ‘doing good’ without the need for attention and acknowledgement. Few words are needed. Many deeds of selfless and hidden acts of love are desperately needed. Here the Holy Spirit reveals himself and, in those who follow this path, the prayer of Jesus is answered again and again; ‘Father, glorify your Son’.

God bless you all!

Father John