Welcome to Saint Mary’s Church, Harborne, Birmingham, UK.

Order of St. Augustine.

Archdiocese of Birmingham

“Before all else, live together in harmony, being of one mind and one heart on the way to God.”  St. Augustine.

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                                       Fr. Bernard O’Connor’s Homily

                                               for Sunday 20th May

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John 20:19-23


When Jesus, the Son of God, was on this earth, he was restricted by time and space.  He could only be in one place at any one time.  He could only be with the people who were physically present with him.


Before he left this earth finally, he promised his followers ‘I shall always be with you’  He promised he would send the Holy Spirit. His followers did not know what he meant at the time until they actually experienced it.


The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus is now with each believer, with each community of faith.

Just as the air is everywhere, invisible, is real, powerful, energy-charged, so is the Spirit of God.

Just as the sun shines on everyone, everywhere and is undiminished, so too the Spirit of God.

Just as the rain falls everywhere, and nourishes the oak tree to become an oak tree, a cabbage to become a cabbage, so the Holy Spirit nourishes each one of us individually, to grow and realise our full potential, each one as individual human beings, made in God’s image.


The Spirit of God is a real and powerful presence in each one of us, even when we do not avert to its presence.  God’s Spirit in you is the reason you are here at Mass today.

It is the force within that not only discerns right from wrong, good from evil, but urges you to choose what is right, reject what is wrong,, to do what is good, refuse what is evil.


The Spirit of God enables us identify with the person of Christ.  At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, we conclude ‘Through him and with him and IN him’.  Through him and with him can express any collaboration, but IN him expresses a level of intimacy not possible even with the closest and dearest of human beings, so that I can say with St Paul, ‘I live now not I but Christ lives in me.’

 The Holy Spirit is my soul’s delightful guest.


The Spirit of God is Love.

Love is invisible, has no bodily form or colour, cannot be measured, but is real.  Love is a powerful force that can overcome all obstacles.  Love means being concerned for the well-being of the other person, transcending self-interest.

The Holy Spirit is Love.



The Spirit of God is manifested not only in us individuals, but in the Church of God.

We heard in the first reading the effect the Holy Spirit had on the apostles. The passage continues telling about Peter in particular.  All that he had heard from Jesus and experienced of him, culminating in his crucifixion and resurrection, now suddenly it all came together.  Now he understood.

With understanding, came a powerful urge to proclaim Jesus Christ to the   world at large.  Straightaway he went out and began to proclaim to the people about Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead.


Such was the appeal of his words and of his message that the people responded in great numbers.


And so began what was to become the Church of Christ.

Paul and his companions travelled along the coast of Eastern Mediterranean.  They preached Christ crucified, and risen from the dead.

Such was the appeal of their message that the people responded with great enthusiasm and in great numbers.


And the pattern has continued throughout the centuries.  Men and women leave home and country and go abroad to where Christ was not yet known.

They preach, people respond in great numbers and with great enthusiasm, and the People of God grow in numbers and in faith.


It would be hard to exaggerate the power of the Holy Spirit.

The attraction, the appeal of the Gospel resonates in the hearts of men and women, as they recognise that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

The People of God have persisted in their faith through over two millennia, in spite of persecution, in spite of cynicism, in spite of ridicule, in spite too of scandals and sin even within the Church institution.

The Holy Spirit will not be frustrated by human wilfulness.


The Sequence, which we recited before the Gospel is a poetic praise of the existence and action of the Holy Spirit:


Come with treasures which endure;

Thou the soul’s delightful; guest;

Light immortal, light divine, our inmost being fill;.

On our dryness pour thy dew;

Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill

Give us comfort when we die; Give us joys that never end,

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