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Homily of Bishop Crean – Vigil of Pentecost – 27th May 2023

Vigil of Pentecost

St. Mary’s Church, Ladysbridge

27th May 2023

“If the Lord does not build the house” Ps. 127:1

My friends,

“If the Lord does not build the house,

in vain do the builders labour” Ps 127:1

Wherever in the world a group of disciples seek to grow as a community of faith one of their urgent tasks is to find a home of their own in which they can gather. Whether it is a modest hut or a grand basilica its purpose is identical – it enables us to gather in prayer, knowing when we do so the Lord is among us.

This awareness of having a fitting home in which to gather has a long history in Ladysbridge and Ballymacoda, judging by the recent history of the Churches in Cloyne published in 2002. In several instances complimentary remarks are made by the visiting bishop of the beauty of the churches and of the commitment of people and clergy to ensuring their care. Tonight in Ladysbridge it’s a joy to lead you in prayer on the Vigil of Pentecost to celebrate your accomplishments in renewing the fabric of this house of prayer while providing a new facility by way of a parish office to enhance your support and solidarity as a community of faith round each of the churches.

Pentecost is such a fitting moment for this celebration of renewal built on a deep foundation of Christian faith. We know from our hearts the great richness we’ve experienced in our families and in the parish through our holding fast to our trust in the Lord – His grace and providence in our individual journey. Still, it hasn’t been without its downside – great hurt has been inflicted on some through profoundly sinful and evil conduct of various kinds. So, as we look back we must not be naive or blind to the sins of the past. But remember the Church exists because we are sinners in need of healing and redemption. That healing and redemption we bring with us into our prayer this evening.

Pentecost indeed is a proclamation of the power of the Holy Spirit in us and among us. The gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, is marked tonight by recalling the events of the upper room – the tongues of fire as a sign of light and life which when accepted, embraced and cherished – has the power to transform and renew us first individually and as a community of faith.

My friends it is one thing to build a house of prayer and it’s a wonderful thing to do so – because it is not just a home for believers, people of faith but more it’s a place of welcome for those who are searching, struggling to find focus in life.

The deeper but essential call for each of us is to build/create a home for the Spirit in our hearts, in our minds. In our time of obsession with novelty whereby we are so easily sucked into negativity by social media or the latest version of whatever we are into – having a home deep within for the Spirit will serve us well in sifting the genuine and sincere from superficiality and falsehood. This is a personal task essentially you have to do it for yourself but you are not alone – that is why our parish community is so crucial – we inspire and

support one another in so many areas of life that we truly value one another. That’s what it is to belong.

In that sense St. Paul’s words in our 2nd Reading are so important for all of us – to recognise that each of us have a part to play.

“No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of

the Holy Spirit.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there

are all sort of service to be done, but always to the same Lord;

working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the

same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in

which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.

Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts,

is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one

body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised,

Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit

was given to us all to drink”.

Tonight in Ladysbridge we give thanks for the many gifts of the Spirit which have been at work among you. While a small number have done the heavy lifting by way of planning and execution of the work, all of you have made it possible by your support and generosity. Congratulations to Fr. Chris and all who have shared your gifts in working together to enable this refurbishment of the Church and the reanimation of the parish in these challenging times for the Church in Ireland.

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