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I think it would be fair to say that most of us are complicated individuals



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Preparing for Pentecost

My mum’s dad was called Robert French. Born in Dublin, Grandad Bob appeared in England just after the Easter Rising. There were tales of a shooting and a desperate escape from Dublin. Whatever the truth, Bob never returned to, or spoke about, Ireland. He was a complex man who had many foibles. He controlled my grandmother.


Every night at 10pm he would stand up, wind the clock and say to her, ‘Come on Kate, up the stairs, time for bed’, whether she was ready or not. He was given to fits of melancholy and occasionally would lose his temper. At other times, his Irish wit and charm would come to the fore and he would laugh and chat, the life and soul of any gathering. I only have one or two pictures of him, and he looks a difficult man, unhappy with himself, his face set in a permanent frown. Whatever happened to Bob French, he was a man who was difficult to fathom and who, it seems, always had an edge to him.

I think it would be fair to say that most of us are complicated individuals. It is definitely not a simple reality to be a human being. Our motivations and intentions are often subtle and varied and sometimes dependent on the circumstances of our lives. Our complex minds mean we often find ourselves doing what we do not want to do – or not doing what we do want to do. Being a follower of Jesus makes it all the more difficult, as we try to follow His example and give of ourselves beyond what comes naturally to us either physically, morally or spiritually.

Part of our complexity lies in our make-up. Within all of us is the ego desperately crying out to be fulfilled, the ego that makes me and my desires the centre of the universe. We are products of what has happened within our lives, so the little child who experienced great joy at the gift of nature and great pain at the crushing of dreams is still there and often governs our adult reactions. It really is quite wonderfully extraordinary and complicated to be a human being.

It is into these lives that the word of God is spoken, calling us to discover what it means to be truly human. One thing I am sure about is that it is only the word, and the power of the spirit that lies behind it, that can enable us to be transformed into a human being filled with love, compassion and mercy despite our uniqueness and peculiarities. Preparing for Pentecost, during these weeks of Eastertide, is a chance to face ourselves and entrust ourselves into the hands of God who will shape us and mould us into the image of His son, the icon of humanity.


Fr Chris Thomas

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