Thursday, June 16, 2022

Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ ‘Corpus Christi’ (Luke 19:11b-17)



Sometimes when I think of some of the different things that people of different faiths believe, and how strange they seem to me, it also makes me think of the Eucharist. For those who do not believe as we do, it must seem like the craziest notion of all; that God makes himself present through the hands of a priest, in a tiny piece of bread and some wine. What could be more bizarre than that? And we don’t just believe that it is a reminder of Jesus or that it represents Jesus, but that it really and truly is the body and blood of Christ. I also think that it is a teaching so extreme that only God could come up with it and get away with it, so to speak. What human being would try to convince others that a piece of bread actually becomes the body of Christ when a priest says certain prayers over it?


To help us believe, the Lord has also given a great number of Eucharistic miracles, to date 107 all over the world. And with modern technology many have been studied by scientists and it has always shown that is the real flesh and blood of a man’s heart.


The first time that Jesus gave the people this teaching—“Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you cannot have life within you”—it says that many of the people who had followed him up to that point left him. They said “This is madness. Who could accept it?” It is interesting how Jesus responded to them. He didn’t say anything. He just let them walk away. He then turned to the disciples and said, “What about you, are you going to go away too?” In other words, “This is my teaching. Take it or leave it.”


In his first letter to the Christians in Corinth (1 Cor 11:23-26)—which is the oldest account of the mass that we have, written about 54 or 55AD—St. Paul says, “This is what I received from the Lord and in turn passed on to you…” He doesn’t say that he received it from the other Apostles, but from the Lord himself. Jesus, as you probably remember, appeared to St. Paul while he was persecuting Christians and the event turned his life around. Jesus appeared to him several other times as well and Paul was so affected by what happened to him that he dedicated the rest of his life to preaching about this man Jesus, but the line that always strikes me is where he says, “This is what I received from the Lord…” He is saying, “I didn’t make this up and neither did any other person. Jesus himself taught us this and taught us to do this in his memory.” So, every time an ordained priest says the words of consecration at mass, “This is my Body… This is the chalice of my Blood…” Jesus becomes present in the form of bread and wine. How are we supposed to understand this?  We aren’t!  I do not understand it at all, but I believe it. That is why we are meant to fast for an hour before receiving Holy Communion and why we don’t eat or smoke in the church, to remind us that this is something unlike anything else in the world. It is also a beautiful sign of how close God is to us, that He would continually come to us in the middle of our lives, each week, each day, to help and encourage us. He comes to us as we are, not as we should be, but as we are. It is also God himself who makes it possible to receive him, because we could never be ready or worthy enough to even come close to the divine presence, not to mention receive him. That is also why we always say the prayer: “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed” (just as the Roman soldier said when Jesus offered to come to his house to heal his servant).


St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

There are two extremes that I come across with regard to the Eucharist. One is where someone will say to me, “Father, I don’t receive the Eucharist because I really am not worthy enough.” Correct! No one is worthy enough, nor ever could be, but since the Lord himself is happy to come to us this way, we should not be afraid to receive him. The other extreme is where people feel they have a ‘right’ to receive the Eucharist without any kind of repentance, or need to confess their sins, or change a lifestyle that is sinful. That is also wrong. There is no question of this being a ‘right’ on our part. The Eucharist is pure gift from God and for our part we must try to approach it as worthily as we can, especially by confessing our sins every so often. But the most important thing to remember is that Jesus wants to give himself to us, and so we should not be afraid to come to him. Remember that ultimately it is God himself who makes it possible for us to receive him. “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”


St. Paul also warns us to be careful not to receive unworthily, or we will bring condemnation on ourselves.

Each person must examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. Anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks condemnation on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick and some have fallen asleep (1 Cor 11:28-30).


If we are living in any way that is not in line with God’s teachings, we need to address it. Several years ago, after I spoke about this, a couple came to me who were 48 years married. They said they had both been previously married, but never got an annulment, so they were never married in the Church. They realized that since they wanted to receive Communion, they really needed to put this right. So, after 48 years, they both applied for annulments, got them and were then married here in the church. I found that so inspiring. And that is the right approach. If you find yourself in a second union, without having got an annulment, then you should try and put it right. Come and talk to me and I will help you sort it out. All of us need to make every effort to do what the Lord asks.


Margaret Clithero: Martyr for the Eucharist

In the late 1500s there lived a woman named Margaret Clithero in the town of York in England. She was a convert to Catholicism at a time when it was against the law to be a Catholic. Priests used to come to her disguised as cloth sellers, bringing her the Eucharist and she would hide them. She never saw mass in a public church or heard a Catholic hymn being sung even though she lived next to York Minster Cathedral. It was an Anglican (Episcopal) church at the time.


She was eventually found out and she was dragged from the butcher shop where she worked and brought before magistrates and ordered to plead guilty or not guilty, so that she could go on trial. She refused as she didn’t want her innocent blood to be on the head of twelve jurors. She said, “If you want to condemn me, condemn me yourself.” The judge said, “Because you are a woman I will let you go free, but you must promise never to hide these priests again.” He then handed her the bible and told her to swear on it.  So she took the bible in open court and held it up in the air and said, “I swear by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if you let me go free, I will hide priests again, because they are the only ones who can bring us the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”


York Minster Cathedral, Enland

So just over 400 years ago, she was brought to St. Michael’s bridge in York and given the punishment, worse than being hung, drawn and quartered. It was called in English law, ‘the punishment most severe’. She was pressed to death under heavy weights. It was to take three days and she was to receive only a little muddy water to drink to keep her alive. The executioner was bribed and he put a stone under her head so that she died within an hour as her neck was broken. She was the mother of eight children, and some of them were there when she was executed.


In the little chapel that is there to her memory in York today, there is an inscription over the door, which is a message for our times. It says ‘She died for the mass.’


So the next time that you find yourself bored with the mass, or just not too bothered to go because you are tired, think of her and think of the many priests and men and women who have been executed for carrying the Eucharist or for saying mass. God has given us an extraordinary treasure in the Eucharist. May He give us new eyes to see what is here before us.

I swear by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if you let me go free, I will hide priests again, because they are the only ones who can bring us the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” – St. Margaret Clithero.


Eucharistic Miracle in Buenos Aires

At seven o’clock in the evening on August 18, 1996, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was saying Holy Mass at a Catholic church in the commercial center of Buenos Aires. As he was finishing distributing Holy Communion, a woman came up to tell him that she had found a discarded host on a candleholder at the back of the church. On going to the spot indicated, Fr. Alejandro saw the defiled Host. Since he was unable to consume it, he placed it in a container of water and put it away in the tabernacle of the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

On Monday, August 26, upon opening the tabernacle, he saw to his amazement that the Host had turned into a bloody substance. He informed Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Auxiliary Bishop at that time, now Pope Francis), who gave instructions that the Host be professionally photographed. The photos were taken on September 6. They clearly show that the Host, which had become a fragment of bloodied flesh, had grown significantly in size. For three years the Host remained in the tabernacle, the whole affair being kept a strict secret. Since the Host suffered no visible decomposition, Cardinal Bergoglio decided to have it scientifically analyzed.

On October 5, 1999, in the presence of the Cardinal’s representatives, Dr. Castanon took a sample of the bloody fragment and sent it to New York for analysis. Since he did not wish to prejudice the study, he purposely did not inform the team of scientists of its provenance. One of these scientists was Dr. Frederic Zugiba, the well-known cardiologist and forensic pathologist. He determined that the analyzed substance was real flesh and blood containing human DNA. Zugiba testified that, “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. It should be borne in mind that the left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.”

Two Australians, journalist Mike Willesee and lawyer Ron Tesoriero, witnessed these tests. Knowing where sample had come from, they were dumbfounded by Dr. Zugiba’s testimony. Mike Willesee asked the scientist how long the white blood cells would have remained alive if they had come from a piece of human tissue, which had been kept in water. They would have ceased to exist in a matter of minutes, Dr. Zugiba replied. The journalist then told the doctor that the source of the sample had first been kept in ordinary water for a month and then for another three years in a container of distilled water; only then had the sample been taken for analysis. Dr. Zugiba’s was at a loss to account for this fact. There was no way of explaining it scientifically, he stated. Only then did Mike Willesee inform Dr. Zugiba that the analyzed sample came from a consecrated Host (white, unleavened bread) that had mysteriously turned into bloody human flesh. Amazed by this information, Dr. Zugiba replied, “How and why a consecrated Host would change its character and become living human flesh and blood will remain an inexplicable mystery to science—a mystery totally beyond her competence.”

Dr. Frederick Zugiba, who analysed the bloodied Host

Only faith in the extraordinary action of a God provides the reasonable answer—faith in a God, who wants to make us aware that He is truly present in the mystery of the Eucharist.

The Eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires is an extraordinary sign attested to by science. Through it Jesus desires to arouse in us a lively faith in His real presence in the Eucharist. He reminds us that His presence is real, and not symbolic. Only with the eyes of faith do we see Him under appearance of the consecrated bread and wine. We do not see Him with our bodily eyes, since He is present in His glorified humanity. In the Eucharist Jesus sees and loves us and desires to save us.

In collaboration with Ron Tesoriero, Mike Willesee, one of Australia’s best-known journalists (he converted to Catholicism after working on the documents of another Eucharistic miracle) wrote a book entitled Reason to Believe. In it they present documented facts of Eucharistic miracles and other signs calling people to faith in Christ who abides and teaches in the Catholic Church. They have also made a documentary film on the Eucharist—based largely on the scientific discoveries associated with the miraculous Host in Buenos Aires. Their aim was to give a clear presentation of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject of the Eucharist. They screened the film in numerous Australian cities. The showing at Adelaide drew a crowd of two thousand viewers. During the commentary and question period that followed a visibly moved man stood up announcing that he was blind. Having learned that this was an exceptional film, he had very much wanted to see it. Just before the screening, he prayed fervently to Jesus for the grace to see the film. At once his sight was restored to him, but only for the thirty-minute duration of the film. Upon its conclusion, he again lost the ability to see. He confirmed this by describing in minute detail certain scenes of the film. It was an incredible event that moved those present to the core of their being.





Saturday, June 11, 2022

Feast of the Holy Trinity (Gospel: John 16:12-15) Made in God’s image


One thing that all of us have in common, is the search for happiness. Everyone wants to find happiness. We may have very different ideas as to what happiness is, but all of us are searching for it. God shows us exactly where to find it and how to get there, but we are not always convinced. One of the consequences of Original Sin, was that we were no longer in communion with God the way He intended for us. It’s says right after the Fall, that Adam and Eve hid from God. They had not done that before. They were suddenly afraid of him. And this has passed on to us. We are not always convinced that what God teaches us is true, that He really has our best interests at heart. If we were, we would try and live his commandments as carefully as possible, since they are the path to our happiness.

If I asked how many of you here want to be rich, probably everyone would say yes, because we are convinced that we will have happiness if we have enough money. Our problems will go away, but they won’t. In fact, Jesus says ‘How hard it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Why would it be harder to enter heaven if you are rich? Because our wealth can be a distraction. We can become immersed in material things, forgetting about what is truly important and it doesn’t have to be great wealth either. Being obsessed with getting enough money is just as bad, but Jesus taught the opposite. He said, ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Luke 18:25; John 3:3).  The ‘eye of a needle’ was a metaphor for a very narrow opening. The kingdom of heaven is where we will find happiness and ironically wealth often becomes an obstacle to it, because it distracts us from what is really important. Instead of spending our life growing closer to God, we are focused on material wealth and forget about him. Just recently a man told me that he realized he had spent his whole life working hard to make enough money, but in the process he alienated himself from his family. He realized he would have been far better off to earn less and spend more time with his family.

Many times I have heard people who have worked in third world countries say, that it is always in the poorest countries that people have the greatest joy, even where there is terrible injustice. It is in first world countries where you will find the greatest anger, depression and despair. Why is that? Because in the poorest countries they are not distracted by wealth and they realize that they will only find happiness in God, beginning in this life and fulfilled in the next.

When Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes in 1858, she said to her ‘I cannot promise you happiness in this life, but in the next.’ If we understand this, we will begin to find peace, because we won’t be expecting to find complete happiness here. We will only have complete fulfillment in the world to come, because we will only find our fulfillment in God.

The wonderful thing is that God has created us for happiness. The Holy Trinity was perfectly fulfilled in every way before He created us, but God wanted to share that happiness. So, God created us to be able to share in his happiness and total fulfillment, which we will experience, if we remain open to God. Think of times in your life when you were happy: birthdays, weddings, the birth of a child, graduations. Our instinct is to share it, to celebrate it with others. So we invite others to share in our happiness and we have a party. That is why God created us, because He wanted us to share in his happiness and that is what awaits us unless we reject it. Why would someone reject it? Because we think we know better and refuse to listen to what God teaches us and commands us to do. The death and resurrection of Jesus reopened the possibility of heaven, which we had lost because of Original Sin. Now it is offered to us, but we still have to choose it.

How is it that nearly all of us want peace and happiness, but our world is full of war and hatred? We want equality, but we are continually faced with discrimination. The reason is because there is a war going on that we cannot see, but it is mentioned many times in Scripture. Satan rejected God and hates us, because we are God’s creation. He wants to take everything away from God, especially us, his children, purely out of hatred for God. The only reason Satan takes any interest in us, is to get at God.

 In the book of Genesis, after the fall of Adam and Eve, God said,

I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. She will crush your head, and you will strike her heel (Gen 3:15).

And it says in the book of Revelation:

And the dragon was enraged at the woman and went to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.’ (Rev 12:17).

The woman is Our Lady, the Mother of all God’s children. At the crucifixion, Jesus said to saint John—who is the model disciple and represents all of us who follow God— ‘Behold your mother.’ And to Mary, Behold your son.’ (John 19:25). He gave us his mother as our heavenly mother. That is why she has continued to appear many times throughout the world, because she cares about her children and wants to make sure we remain on the right path. The very fact that she has appeared at all means that we have strayed from the right path and we are putting ourselves in danger.

If you think of evil people in the world. If they want to cause pain to someone, they will try and harm whatever is dearest to them. What is abortion, except that? Satan destroys God’s children from their beginning. That is what is behind abortion. Satan has convinced us that it is a good thing, so that we needn’t be inconvenienced. But think of the words of consecration at the mass: ‘This is my Body, which will be given up for you.’ Think of what abortion says: ‘This is my body and it will not be given up for you.’ It is the opposite of the mass. That’s how you know what is behind it. There is no species on the planet that kills its own young.

So we are in the middle of a war, a spiritual war, where Satan wants to take us away from God in any way possible. St. Paul puts it this way:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).

How did he know that? Because Jesus taught them all these things. I have no doubt that between the time of the resurrection and the ascension into heaven, these were some of the things that God was teaching the Apostles. He was piecing it all together for them. That is why God inspired them to write it down and why we have it in the Scriptures, the word of God.

What is the casting out of demons, except taking back God’s children? How do you destroy an enemy? Divide and conquer: turn them against each other. Look at what is happening in our world right now. We are turned against each other and killing each other, often for no particular reason. This is because we are in the middle of a much bigger war than we can see, when people turn their back on God and on God’s teachings, they lose their way and are open to every kind of suggestion.

But as always, God gives us all the tools we need to fight back. He shows us that living the Commandments and the teachings of Christ is what keeps us safe. If we listen to what God says to us, then we will not get distracted from the path to our happiness. If we live by the word of God, then we will remember what is important and we will see through the lies that we are constantly being told: ‘Abortion and Euthanasia are good for society. You should be able to do whatever you want.’ That was the lie told to Adam and Eve, which they fell for. ‘You don’t need to listen to God.’ Notice in the Gospel where Jesus said to the Apostles, ‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.’

God has created us to share in his happiness, but He will not force us to accept it. I’m often amazed at the amount of parents who tell me in great distress about one of their children who has rejected them. They cannot understand why. They did everything they could for their children and then their children turned their back on them. Sadly, it happens quite often. We can also do this with God. God offers us everything and gives us everything, but we can still reject him and people do.

I think that must have been one of the most difficult sufferings in the life of Jesus, knowing that some people would still reject him, in spite of the terrible sufferings He was going to go through. His death and resurrection re-opened the way to heaven for us, but we can still reject it.

God so loved the world that He gave his only Son,

So that all who believe in him might not perish,

but might have eternal life (John 3:16).




Monday, June 6, 2022

Pentecost Sunday. 'The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will teach you everything.'



In 1999, in preparation for the second millennium, Pope John Paul II invited representatives from 54 different groups around the world to come to Rome. These groups were started over the last several decades and were all started by lay people, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. To give you an example, some of the groups were, the Focolare movement, Marriage Encounter, Cenacolo, Charismatic Renewal, Cursillo. All of these different movements within the Church have been started by lay people and are really about different ways of living out the Gospel in daily life. These movements have been so fruitful, that most of them have spread all over the world. For that meeting in Rome, there were 400,000 people present representing these 54 different movements. This event was a celebration of what God is doing all over the world. 


It is good to hear about these things every so often, because it would be easy to get the impression that the Church is dying, or that religion is on its way out. We won’t hear about this sort of thing on the TV, or in the papers, but it is happening all around us.


Just to give you an example closer to home of the power of God’s Spirit working among us. For many years I was part of a prayer group of young people in Galway, started by a young lay woman. From that group there are currently four people in religious life (two contemplative sisters and two priests), and there are about twenty married couples, but more importantly it has helped many people come back to their faith and grow in their faith. Most of the group are now in their 50s but they are people who are really trying to live out the Gospel in their daily lives. It was thanks to that group that I came back to my own faith, because I had also drifted away, and then later I became a priest. That is the power of God’s Holy Spirit at work, and praise God for it.


God doesn’t wait until we are ready. God acts when the time is right. He doesn’t wait for the hierarchy of his Church to decide what to do. I don’t mean that they are not important, because they are, but think of the times that Peter and Paul came to pray with people and before they had even started, the Holy Spirit came down on the people. The Lord sends his Spirit to inspire and move people to step out in faith and live the Gospel, and they in turn move others, until soon the people are alive with faith again. In the Gospels Jesus says to the Pharisees, ‘The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit’ (Matthew 21:43). God doesn’t wait until we are ready. God inspires people to act when the time is right and that’s why new movements and religious orders keep springing up.


One time when I was working in a hospital in Ireland, I came into one area where I was going to visit patients who were newly admitted. One of the nurses told me that a man had been admitted who had taken an overdose of poison and was going to die. She said that he probably wouldn’t be too receptive to me. I decided to visit him anyway and prayed to God for guidance. When I got to the door of his room, which was open, I could see a young man by his bedside, who turned out to be his son. I stood at the door and I just said, ‘I heard what happened and I’m sorry. Do you regret it?’ The man said that he did regret it. As soon as he said that, I felt this strong prompting inside me saying, ‘That is a confession, so don’t ask for one.’ I really felt that was the Spirit speaking to me. I asked the man if he would like to talk, but he emphatically said that he did not want to make a confession. I told him that he didn’t have to. I spoke to him for a few minutes and he told me that on the spur of the moment he had taken a drink of a weed killer called Paraquot. The doctors told me that they could do nothing and that this would just burn through his insides and kill him. He now had to face his family. I asked him if he would like me to anoint him, give him last rites. Again he said that he didn’t want to make a confession. I told him that it wasn’t necessary and that the anointing included the forgiveness of his sins. And so I anointed him and left. He died a few days later.


Some weeks later a friend of mine was talking about a man in hospital who had taken an overdose of poison. He had refused to see two priests, but eventually he did see a priest, was anointed and died peacefully. It was the same man, but my friend didn’t realise I was the third priest. If I had known that he had refused to see two other priests, I probably would not have gone to him. But the Lord sent me to that man, he made his peace with God and died reconciled. That was the power of the Holy Spirit guiding me to him, just as we read of the Apostles being guided to different people.


Another time I was in one of the hospitals here in Fort Myers. While I was in the elevator a young woman asked me if I was a priest. Then she asked me how I could get a priest to come and visit her husband. I offered to go right way and we went to his room. He had fallen and broken his back and was still unconscious. I asked her if she would like me to give him the sacrament of the sick (anointing). She awkwardly told me that they were not married in the Church. I told her that this wasn’t the time to worry about that and I anointed him. She was in tears and then asked me to bless her and her children which I did. That showed her that God was with her and looking out for her. What a privilege it is for me to be that instrument that God uses and this happens to me all the time.


Do you know what God’s Spirit is doing in the Church all over the world over the last few years? He is stripping it down so that it can become beautiful once again. Because of the scandals, He is removing all the prestige, power and respectability which we had come to depend on. We had become too powerful, too prestigious and it was causing us to wander away from what the Gospel is really about. The scandals have brought us to our knees and that is not a bad thing. God is, ironically, forcing us to turn back to depend on his Word and his Spirit and to get away from what we don’t need. God is rebuilding his Church because He loves us. When someone is sick with cancer, you remove the cancer so that the person becomes well again. When the Spirit’s work is finished the Church will be beautiful again. The Spirit is removing the cancer of sin and corruption, so that God’s Church can bear fruit again and God does this because He loves his Church.


Before he ascended into heaven Jesus told us that the Father would send us the ‘Helper, or Advocate’, who would be with us forever, and who would teach us everything. In Italian the word is avocato, which means attorney. He knew that we would need help and so He sent us the best help that we could have, his own Spirit, to guide us and teach us. And He does teach us constantly, through the example of people He inspires, through the Word of God, through prayer when we are open to him, in fact, through many ways we will never even be aware of.  But the Spirit is very gentle and that is why we don’t notice him sometimes.


Think of this: in each mass, nothing would happen when the priest prays over the bread and wine, if the Spirit didn’t come down and transform them into the Body and Blood of Christ. Sins would not be forgiven through the priests if the Spirit didn’t act, because it is the Spirit who takes away the sin, through the instrument of the priest. Baptism and Confirmation would be meaningless if the Spirit didn’t anoint the person receiving the sacrament; marriage and ordination would mean nothing, if the Holy Spirit didn’t act. Because of the presence of the Spirit, when a couple get married in the Church, God becomes involved in that marriage. It is no longer just the couple, but the couple with God helping them and blessing what they do. We wouldn’t know how to pray, or even feel the desire to pray except that the Spirit is prompting us continually. Our preaching would have no effect if the Spirit did not anoint the words we speak. In 1 Cor 12:3 St. Paul says, ‘No one can say “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.


Here is something that happens to me quite often. I preach a homily that I feel disappointed with, or that I thought I did not do well. Afterwards people come up and thank me for such a powerful message. That is the Holy Spirit and it is also God reminding me that it is his work, not mine. I do my part and prepare as best I can, but ultimately it is the power of God at work through me. That is also why it is so important for me to pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the words I speak. God will speak to your heart if you are open. I think it is always good to ask God to help us to hear what He wants us to hear, every time you read the Scriptures, or listen to them at mass. God has plenty to say to us if we are willing to listen.


The gift of God’s own Spirit is really the greatest thing God can give to us after life itself, because when we have the Holy Spirit we have everything. It is also good to remember that the anointing of the Spirit does not depend on how brilliant, or learned we are. It simply depends on us being open to the Spirit. If you look at so many of the characters God used in the Bible, most of them were very insignificant people. God seems to delight in using ordinary and indeed ‘useless’ people, according to the world’s thinking; the kind of people the world casts aside as being irrelevant.


In the first book of Samuel, it says that Samuel was sent to Jesse’s house to anoint God’s chosen instrument who would be the next king of Israel. God tells Samuel He will show him whom to anoint. Samuel comes to Jesse’s house where there are seven sons. He looks at everyone in the household, starting with the eldest, but God did not choose any of them. Having seen all of the sons in the house, Samuel asks if there is anyone else. They tell him there is just the youngest who is out minding the sheep. He is the least important, who was not even considered, but he is the one God anoints and he turns out to be one of the greatest kings of Israel, king David. That tells us something. We don’t have to be great for God to use us, just open. The more we root ourselves in God’s life, through his Word and through the Eucharist, the more the Lord will use us.


Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your faithful people,

send forth your Spirit and we will be created,

and you will renew the face of the earth.