PENTECOST SUNDAY – 8 June 2014
BREATH AND FIRE
At the Chrism mass celebrated each year just before Easter, the bishop blesses the sacred oils priests use in ministry throughout the year. Three different oils are blessed. The oil of catechumens is used in baptismal liturgies. The oil of the sick as you would expect in the celebration of the anointing of the sick. The oil of chrism is used in celebrations of baptism, confirmation and ordination.
If he chooses, the bishop, as part of the blessing, can breathe over the oils presented to him. Hopefully he always will because it is the only time in the liturgical year when this powerful and ancient gesture appears in the liturgy.
I say powerful because in the gospel we have heard this Sunday Jesus confers the Holy Spirit on his friends on Easter Sunday night (not 6 weeks later) by breathing on them. In the Sunday morning reading we hear the description given by St Luke about the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is the description beloved by artists with the tongues of fire hovering over the heads of the disciples and the disciples then telling all and sundry in their own languages about the revelation of God in Jesus.
The image of being breathed on by Our Lord, risen from the dead, is powerful. Breath is essential for life. We know the distress we undergo when we cannot catch our breath or after a blow the breath is knocked out of us. We know the joy of sucking in air when we have been dumped while surfing and burst forth on the surface. We know the importance of the kiss of life when trying to resuscitate someone after an accident.
Hopefully because of our commitment to our faith in Christ we have a fire in our belly to make him known in actions and in words. We will use every means at our disposal but to proceed by gently breathing on those around us is part of the proclamation of the revolution of tenderness Pope Francis sees as integral to the proclamation of the gospel.
At this celebration of Pentecost let us breathe Christ in and then gently let his presence through us touch all those who are part of our world.
Fr Adrian Farrelly
|Oct 20, 2014||Pentecost Sunday 08.06.2014||Listen||Download|