In a beautiful translation from the French of La prière de toutes les heures (Prayer for All Times) by Pierre Charles, S.J. (1929, p. 88), Maud Monahan poetically expresses the idea that even had we had the privilege of living in Galilee when Christ walked its dusty paths, most likely we would have remained on the outskirts of the crowd, unable even to catch the echo of his words. Never could we have come as close to him as we can now, for he has sent his Spirit to us, and thus we can all become his disciples. “You will receive power”, Jesus promised as he said farewell to the grieving Apostles on Mount Olivet, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1, 8).
Lord, I think of how your disciples lay their hands on the sick, and they recover (Mark 16, 18). It is your Spirit who moves in your followers today as they care for people in hospitals, in nursing homes and doctors’ surgeries, and at home with their families. I have seen the beautiful smile on the face of a care assistant as she gazes at a patient confined to bed, and lights up the whole room with the affection and concern shining out of her eyes. I remember the missionary in Brazil who trained nurses in the biblical custom of the laying on of hands, and how the government there promoted this ancient practice because the sick did indeed get well again and were able to leave their hospital beds sooner. It is your Spirit who inspires the compassionate volunteers who go out night after night to prepare huge cauldrons of soup which they serve to men and women huddled on the bridges and in the parks of my neighbourhood.
Help me, Lord, to recognise the presence of your Spirit, living and working in the unsung heroes among us. You did not leave us orphans when you ascended into heaven; you sent us your Spirit and now you remain very near to us, lifting our hearts and sharing our journey as you did long ago when you walked and talked with your companions on the road to Emmaus.