Fifty days have passed since we celebrated the Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Today, the Feast of Pentecost brings the Easter season to an end. In the Gospel, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on his disciples, bringing peace and forgiveness of sins. Yet in the First Reading, the coming of the Spirit seems anything but peaceful. The signs of the coming of the Spirit are a noise like a strong wind, and tongues of flame that rest on the disciples’ heads.
Today’s feast celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives power to Jesus’ disciples to overcome the divisions of the human race, caused by our different languages and nationalities. At Pentecost, people from the many nations of the Roman Empire can hear and understand the disciples’ preaching about the marvels that God has worked. The disciples themselves are transformed; they leave behind their fear and anxiety, and become bold preachers and missionaries. They are no longer afraid to give their lives for Jesus.
We receive the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The Spirit can be as powerful in us as in the first disciples. The Spirit has power to overcome division, to bring peace and understanding, and to forgive our sins. The power of the Holy Spirit can transform us into fearless witnesses for Christ, just like the disciples. In this time of pandemic, the powers of this world seem to be shaken up and disrupted. We see clearly that all earthly power has its limits. But there is no limit to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Congratulations to Jakub Betinsky and Justina Betinska, whose son Emanuel was born this week at University Hospital of North Durham. Emanuel weighed in at a healthy 3.7 kg, and he and his mother are both well. Please pray for them all.
The Chaplaincy St Vincent de Paul Group raised £80 (before lockdown) for St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds. The Senior Fundraiser for the hospice writes: ‘Thank you so much for your recent donation to St Gemma’s Hospice on behalf of St Cuthbert’s Catholic Church in Durham. I just wanted to get in touch today to let you know that we really appreciate your kind support during this time, and ask that you please pass our sincere thanks on to everyone at the church who kindly contributed to the donation.’
At present, there is no change in the regulations requiring the closure of all churches. The Bishops of England & Wales are working with the Government to make it possible for churches to open, for private prayer and later for public worship. Any change in the rules will be announced when it happens.
The Parish Office is closed until further notice. Ciara is working from home, and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org but replies may take some time. You can contact the church by telephone on 0191 384 3442 – please leave a message if Fr Andrew is not in.
Hospital visits: The University Hospital of North Durham has suspended visiting of patients, with limited exceptions for children’s wards, maternity wards and end-of-life patients. However, the Catholic Chaplain is still able to visit patients, and to bring them Holy Communion and the Sacrament of the Sick. If you know of a patient who wishes for a visit from the Catholic Hospital Chaplain, please inform Fr Paul Tully on 01388 818544 or email@example.com
St Cuthbert’s Hospice is closed to all visitors, with limited exceptions for end-of-life patients. If you know of a patient in the hospice who wishes to contact a priest, please get in touch with Fr Andrew.
The Catholic Universe and Catholic Times are continuing to publish during the period of lockdown. From this week, the two will be combined in a single newspaper, with the Catholic Times appearing as a supplement within the Catholic Universe.
The Catholic newspapers will continue to be available in a box outside the church door, together with paper copies of the parish bulletin, and copies of ‘Walk with Me,’ a booklet of Eastertide prayers and reflections. If you pass St Cuthbert’s during your daily exercise, or while doing essential shopping, please pick up copies for yourself and your neighbours, especially for anyone who is quarantined.
On Sundays, Fr Andrew will lead an online reflection on the week’s Gospel reading.
On Sunday 30 May at 10.30am on Zoom – a shared reflection on today’s Gospel reading. For details of how to take part, join the ‘St Cuthbert’s Parish Community’ Facebook group, or email Fr Andrew on firstname.lastname@example.org Fr Andrew’s homily will also be recorded and posted on Facebook.
A number of qualified counsellors and listeners have generously made themselves available to anyone who may be troubled by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown. These counsellors and listeners can be contacted through the St Mary’s Cathedral Listening Service on 0191 232 6953 and the Northumberland Listening Service on 07732 980740.
This Sunday falls between the two great feasts of Ascension and Pentecost. Jesus has returned to God the Father, and the Church is waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today’s Gospel, again, comes from John’s account of the Last Supper. Jesus prays to God the Father in the presence of his disciples. He has finished the work that his Father gave him. He has revealed God’s love to the world, and he has glorified the Father by his life and teaching. Now, Jesus knows that he is returning to the Father. He instructs the community of disciples who will remain to continue his work. The disciples belong to God. They have heard Jesus’ words and come to know him. They will witness to what they have heard and seen, and so they will bring others to God.
Today, we are the disciples sent into the world by Jesus. We belong to God by our baptism. We have come to know Jesus and believe in him, through hearing his words. We are filled with the Holy Spirit, who transforms us and gives us courage to face the opposition of the world. God is glorified when we live by the teachings of Christ. God is glorified when we keep God’s word, by loving God and our neighbour. Even in these strange and difficult times, we can give glory to God, and help others come to faith, by our witness and our love for one another. We are in the world, and we belong to God
World Communications Day is today. Pope Francis has asked us to pray for ‘those who work in the media, who work to communicate today so that people are not isolated… who help us to bear this time of isolation.’ Information and resources at www.cbcew.org.uk/home/events/wcd20
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