Last Sunday, 1 June St. Peter’s square in Rome was packed as usual at 12 noon for the Pope’s “Regina Caeli” message. Pope Francis was conscious that in many parts of the world, including his native Argentina and in Italy, as well as for us in the UK, it was the feast of the Ascension.




He commented to all that Jesus promised he would be with us to the end of the world (Mt 28:20). Jesus is close to each of us, guiding us, walking at our side, taking our hand to support us and, when we fail him, he is the always ready to forgive us. The Pope continued: “He is alive among us, and he then asked the people: Do you believe Jesus is with us?” There was quite a loud “yes” from them, so he then asked the whole crowd to say after him: “Jesus is with us.” This he did twice.

Next Sunday, 8 June, it will be Pentecost, two important Church feast days, closely aligned. The Ascension directly concerns Jesus, and Pentecost directly concerns the Holy Spirit, and those two are inseparable. Without the Holy Spirit Jesus would not have been born, and without Jesus returning to the Father, the Holy Spirit would not have come to us.

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The Holy Trinity envelops us always, and it is good to realise we can feel inserted into the Holy Trinity. The following Sunday 15 June it will be Trinity Sunday. 



Good human relationships are always Trinitarian, because in a good relationship you are able to be close, united with the other and even intimate; and yet you do not possess each other; rather he or she is distinct. You remain free and the other remains free and it feels good. No one need by jealous, no one need be hurt, there are no scandals, each person is enriched and the community grows and is enriched as good things happen. 

So what a great gift is the gift of Jesus who opens up this way for all his disciples; a joyful way of freedom, peace and fulfilment. It is his gift that comes from the redemption, and is from the Spirit. 

I think Jesus must have both great patience and a great sense of humour. I have found parishioners who would like to celebrate a sacrament for themselves or their family, whether it be Baptism, Confirmation or The Eucharist, but then because of relationships that have gone bitterly sour, with a neighbour or with a blood relation, they contact me and say they cannot celebrate their sacrament on the same day as the other, with whom there is a row – a falling out – in progress. In the Gospel, Jesus said “if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Mt 5: 23-24) In the Our Father we pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. The whole thrust of the Gospel is that if you are not in peace and harmony with your neighbour, whoever they may be, you are not in peace and harmony with God. In fact Jesus puts it the other way round to make it more forceful: if your neighbour has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go and be reconciled first with your neighbour and then come and offer your gift. Without God we are lost as human beings; and deep divisions with others, separate us from God. We have quite a challenge to face.  

We sinful disciples need to have the patience and sense of humour of Jesus himself. If the Gospel way of life has penetrated into me, that is God’s gift, not of my own merit, so I can never judge the other. I can be patient, as God is with me with all my foibles, limitations and weaknesses, and I can be amused, in tune with God’s humour, as God watches his children doing their best, but so often getting it wrong.  

There is hope always because Jesus is with us always. He is our redemption our hope – not a sense of having achieved something good – not being necessarily in a dream situation in which there are no challenges – not having every relationship right – but having Him with me. That is what Ascension and Pentecost bring to my mind, this year, and it was inspired by hearing Pope Francis on the ‘Pope App’, speaking last Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

Father Jonathan