Our patron Cardinal Vincent Nichols has provided us with his thoughts for this Pentecost Sunday in his reflection “May the Holy Spirit invigorate our wills and our determination to act.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of WestminsterPentecost

The opening lines of the Book of Genesis are a great source of inspiration and reflection. They speak of our beginnings, our origin, as the work of God who draws the ‘heavens and the earth’ from an earth that was ‘without form and void’. Two creative forces are named: the ‘Spirit of God’ which ‘was hovering over the face of the waters’ and the Word of God, spoken at each phase. We read ‘And God said…’ eight times as the wonders of creation are unfolded.

Here is a reflection of such importance. Without that Holy Spirit and that Word, all we have is ‘without form and void’. It is the Holy Spirit and the Word who bring forth a cosmos, an ordered world.

St John names that Word for us, in the Prologue of his Gospel, saying that ‘All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made’ (Jn 1.3). And, of course, he proclaims that ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’ (Jn1.14).

Spirit and Word. Without them our lives remain lacking in their fundamental shape and purpose. Without them our lives are oriented towards death and oblivion. With them our lives take on a new purpose, a new meaning. We have a road to follow and a pattern to live by. With Spirit and Word we go from darkness to light, from death to life.

Easter and Pentecost, then, belong together: the feast of the Word, in the triumph over death, and the feast of the Spirit, poured out again on the face of the earth, with new vigour, from the side of Christ. Here we are at the very core of our faith, a truth that reaches to our deepest realities: created by God, given light and meaning by God, destined for eternity with God and all put without our grasp by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, in and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Land is the place on earth where the events we celebrate at Easter and Pentecost first took place. This is a Land precious to us for ever. This is the Land which draws us back, again and again, to touch and feel the realities that Jesus touched. Here is the Rock of Calvary, the Tomb from which he was raised, the Upper Room from which poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of our wonderful Gospel message.

Every place on earth is marred by our failure and our sinfulness. Violence and unending conflicts are the fruit of that failure. So it is that today we pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth, for peace and good order, for redemption from the chaos that we cause. And our prayer can and should have particular intensity for the Holy Land and for its people.

May God bless us all this Pentecost. May the Word of God find a fresh lodging in our hearts and minds. May the Holy Spirit invigorate our wills and our determination to act according to the will of our Heavenly Father, forsaking all other motives and serving Him alone, through Christ our Lord.