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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, May 25, 2012
Our Official Birthday

Pentecost is sometimes referred to as the birthday of the Church. On the surface, it seems quite a sensible title given that it is the day when the power of the Holy Spirit emboldens the disciples to emerge from their isolation and preach the Good News to the devout men and women living in Jerusalem.

However, that’s not entirely true. The real birth of the Church takes place while Christ is on the cross when He Baptises with water from His side and His last breath, the Holy Spirit, and gives His Mother Mary to St John and vice versa. That’s why we call Mary the Mother of the Church – if the Church wasn’t present in those two people then the title would make no sense. Unsurprisingly, Good Friday isn’t really an appropriate day for celebrating a birthday and so, like the Queen, we adopt another day, Pentecost, as our official birthday.

I suspect that most of us celebrate our birthdays less and less as we get older – the novelty wears off and the reality sets in! But that can't be the case with the birthday of the Church. Why? Because the Holy Spirit comes with real power on the disciples and they emerge to preach the news that the ultimate limit on the number of birthdays we will have has been overcome. Therefore, as Christians, we should celebrate the birthday of the Church with more vigour each year because with it we move a step closer to the coming of Christ and our sharing more fully in the Kingdom of God.

Thus, as we celebrate the emergence of the Church into the world today, let us ask for a share in the gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, understanding, right judgement, knowledge, reverence, wonder and awe, and above all, courage – that we may be bold disciples of the Good News in our world of today. Each in our own way is called to do this for as Blessed John Paul II once wrote, “no talent is too small to be used.” Having reached the end of the Easter season and our catechetical programmes I am struck once more by how many people are involved in our parish. From preparing the church and everything in it for the worthy celebration of liturgies, ensuring their smooth and prayerful running, preparing others for their fullest participation in the life of the Church, countless other practical, administrative and spiritual things, and to performing the miracle of being able to bring yourselves and your families to Mass, you all witness to the blessed Pope’s observation that, “Each member of the Church has a unique task which no-one else can take on.”

Recently one of my priest friends was visiting from Norway. He hadn’t seen our church before and after a few moments of reflection he turned to me, smiled and said, “This is a loved church.” I know you do all these things for the love of God, but I hope you will allow me to thank you for whatever your ministry might be. To quote Blessed John Paul again, “The eyes of faith see marvellous things today – countless lay people, women and men, engaged in all sorts of work and activities. They are mostly quite unknown, tireless labourers in the vineyard, who go steadily, through God’s grace. These are the people at once humble and great who are building the Kingdom in our time.”

That means you. God bless you. And happy birthday.

Fr Kevin

posted by Sinead Reekie at 12:26 pm