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The Holy Shadow


7th Sunday of Easter 16/05/2021 Jn 17 11-19


Throughout the Easter season we are reminded how much God loves us and we are encouraged to spread that love wherever we go and in whatever we say or do.


Listen to a story:

There once lived a saint so good that the angels came from heaven to see how someone could be so godly. This saint went about diffusing virtue as the stars diffuse light and the flowers scent, without being aware of it. His day could be summed up in the words — he gave and forgave — yet these words never passed his lips. They were expressed in his ready smile, his kindness, forbearance, and charity.

The angels said to God, “Lord, grant him the gift of miracles.”

God replied, “Ask what the saint wishes.”

They asked the saint, “Would you like the touch of your hands to heal the sick?”

“No,” answered the saint. “I would rather God do that.”

“Would you like to convert guilty souls and bring back wandering hearts to the right path?”

“No, that is the angels’ mission, not mine.”

“Would you like to become a model of patience, attracting people by the lustre of your virtues, and thus glorify God?”

“No,” replied the saint. “If people were attracted to me, they would become estranged from God.” “What do you desire, then?” asked the angels.

“What can I wish for?” asked the saint smiling. “That God gives me his grace so that I have everything?”

The angels said, “You must ask for a miracle, or one will be forced upon you.”

“Very well,” said the saint. “I wish to do a great deal of good without ever knowing it.”

The angels were perplexed but eventually decided that every time the saint’s shadow fell anywhere, but unseen by him, it would cure disease, soothe pain, and comfort sorrow. Wherever the saint walked, his shadow made arid paths green, caused withered plants to bloom, gave clear water to dried-up brooks, fresh colour to pale children, and joy to the unhappy. The saint simply went about diffusing virtue as the stars diffuse light and the flowers scent, without being aware of it. The people, respecting his humility, followed him silently, never speaking to him about his miracles. Soon they even forgot his name, and called him “The Holy Shadow.”


Maybe we are called to be a holy shadow, a shadow of God. This would mean no longer being our own centre. God becomes our centre and we will live as God’s shadow, without power, because we lack any centre to be powerful. We are no longer virtuous because we lack any centre to be virtuous. We are not even religious, not having any centre to be religious. Emptied of ourselves, we no longer have any barriers and blocks, so divine love can flow through us unhindered, uninterpreted, untouched, allowing God to be present as God is, not as we would like God to be. Will you be a Holy Shadow??

by Fr Thomas O'BRIEN a.a

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