19th May 2021
Last Thursday we celebrated the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into the heavens and next Sunday its Pentecost or Whitsun, where the powerful flames of Pentecost swoop in from heaven to transform the human soul from temporal to eternal! Amidst all this Heavenly activity we have the disciples and believers being shaken and woken up to the reality of God, though not too real as human beings cannot take too much of the pure thrilling burning transforming life of God, but lovingly given to each it restores the human soul to life. When I was teenager if I put pure petrol into the tank of my BSA Bantam instead of adding the squirts of oil the engine would seize up and overheat, similarly if you add pure Holy Spirit to the soul l don’t believe it would be able to cope with the real life and reality that is Jesus Christ.
St Augustine said, The happy day has dawned for us on which Holy Church makes her first radiant appearance to the eyes of faith and sets the hearts of believers on fire. It is the day on which we celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit by our Lord Jesus Christ, after he had risen from the dead and ascended into glory. In the Gospel it is written: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, rivers of living water shall flow from his heart.” (Jn 7:37-38).
As we see the Holy Land once again immersed in conflict and pray for peace we remember that conflict and tension are nothing new for Jerusalem, in fact in ordinary times when there is no war there is always a tension which exists where the three great faiths come together with Jews, Muslims and Christians in one place. The city has been built sacked and rebuilt over the centuries. The Western Wall is all that is left of the original Temple. Like a shaft from heaven to this place its where the faithful pray at the wailing wall. It carries something so powerful within its walls. Yet each religion has its own unique claim to Jerusalem. It is also a deeply Holy place for Christians who see the place where Christ, lived preached and died and is Resurrected, with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which was consecrated on 13th September 335 covering the place where Jesus was Resurrected.
It is also the acutely sacred place of the Muslims; Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest Islamic structures in the world. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Holy Temple previously stood.
Having visited Jerusalem and leading pilgrimages on a number of occasions I can say that without doubt it really is one of the most extraordinary places in the world. As a Christian Priest, to me it is of course a place where even though two thousand years have passed it carries the deep fragrance of the life of the eternal one, Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Prayer – from St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-202)
I appeal to you, Lord, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob and Israel, You the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Infinitely merciful as You are, it is Your will that we should learn to know You. You made heaven and earth, You rule supreme over all that is. You are the true, the only God; there is no other God above You.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fr Ron Corne.