Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. He was symbolically pictured as moving on water bringing life out of chaos at the beginning of creation (Genesis). This is why the Creed calls Him the "giver of life" physical, spiritual and eternal. The Holy Spirit inspired the prophets to utter the message of God and the Bible writers to write the message of God in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is called by Christ "The Spirit of Truth" for "He will guide you in all truth". So powerful is the Holy Spirit that the incarnation of God came about through His power and the cooperation of Mary the mother-to-be of Jesus. Jesus's public life started by the power of the Spirit who led him to the wilderness to be prepared for his Messianic mission and confirmed him in his baptism. Jesus calls him the Advocate for "When they bring you to trial and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak but the Holy Spirit" (Mark 13, 11). It is said that God's relationship with Man can be traced in three ages based on how it is perceived: The Age of the Father since creation and His preparation of the Chosen People in the Old Testament to the coming of the Son, The Age of the Son since the incarnation of Christ to his Ascension, and the Age of the Holy Spirit from the time of Christ's sending of the Spirit at Pentecost to the end of the world. We live in the Age of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit did not have a role in the Old Testament or in the life of Christ. It is only how it was perceived by people. The Divinity of the Holy Spirit was challenged by Macedonius in the 4th century. The entire Church condemned his teaching at the Second Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople in 381 AD. We know of the gifts of the Holy Spirit from the event of Pentecost when he came upon the disciples and they started speaking in languages. There are many gifts of the Spirit, which we continue to see to-date, but what is more important here is his fruits. For example he brings joy to people. What is most significant is his work in each one of us to lead us into repentance. St. Augustine referring to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12), interpreted it in a non-literalist way. He wrote that the Holy Spirit urges us to repent day and night. Blasphemy is the continuous rejection of the Holy Spirit's urge for me to repent until death. This means that the Holy Spirit works always to bring us back to God. The most joyful description of the Holy Spirit is that he is "The Spirit of Love." He signifies the essence not only of Christianity but of the Holy Trinity - God's inner life. This love is the eternal self-emptying (extacy) giving that the Father and the Son share. This binding force of self-emptying love is the Holy Spirit (St. Augustine). The Holy Spirit, since the beginning, has been working in every human, every tribe, every culture, and every civilization to bring them to the love of God. He chose the People of God to reveal to them himself (the fullness of light). However he has been giving a ray of this light to other religions, cultures and nations. According to Rahner, God's self-revelation is given to every individual regardless of their heritage, religion or culture in as much as they can perceive his light. Those who act in good conscience on the urges of the Spirit will eventually become Christian. Saints are people who respond to the Spirit even if they are not explicitly Christian. Those, according to Rahner, are anonymous Christians. But how do they find God? It is only in Christ that anyone can be saved. The Catholic Church firmly believes that Christ is the sole mediator between God and Man. And the Holy Spirit is the agent who actualizes Christ in the redeemed human race. It is the Holy Spirit who acts in the sacraments of the Church to make us holy. When Christ instructed the apostles to preach the Gospel, he said to them "Go, teach the nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." One of the signs of the Holy Spirit is unity. We find full unity only in the Catholic Church. Although the Eastern Orthodox Churches and Protestant communions have much in common with the Catholic Church, they lack this unity, found in the Petrine office, which is essential to the one catholic Church defined in the Creed. May the Holy Spirit lead all Christians to unity.
May His glory shine in us.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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