John 15:26-27, 16:12-15
The Fullness of the Spirit by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning."
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."
I had the privilege of visiting the Grand Canyon some years ago. I vividly remember standing in complete awe of the beauty and mystery that was flooding my mind. I also recall a profound sense that my brain was unable to capture in that moment the fullness of all that was being presented to my senses, the colors, the depths, the distances, the sounds and the majesty. There is a similar reality for Christians when we gaze upon the feast of Pentecost and the mystery of the Holy Spirit. The beauty and mystery of the Holy Spirit is vast and wide. Let’s look at a few snap shots in order to capture a glimpse of its beauty.
First of all, we cannot even believe in Jesus Christ without the aid of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul reminds us in the first letter to the Corinthians, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 12:3b) Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that enables us to cry out “Abba, Father,” So then, we believe that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, given first at Pentecost and today in baptism and confirmation, makes faith in God possible. Consequently, the Holy Spirit has an irreplaceable role in the life of a Christian.
The next picture has the Holy Spirit and love appearing together, but not as if they are separate entities. The Holy Spirit enables us to be faithful to the great command to love God and neighbor because the Holy Spirit is, in fact, the love that exists between the Father and the Son. The love that exists between God the Father and God the Son is so real and so powerful that it bursts forth from them. That love is the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Together, the Father and the Son pour out their Spirit upon us to dwell in our hearts and makes us their adopted children. Jesus says in John’s Gospel, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” (Jn 14:23) God’s love dwelling within us, heals us, strengthens us and sends us out to love God in return and to love our neighbor in imitation of Christ. Pope John Paul II refers in a homily to the effects of baptism in a homily directed at young people: “God acknowledges you as his children and transforms your existence into a story of love with him.”
The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of truth. Jesus says to His disciples in today’s Gospel that He has much more to reveal to them but they are not able to bear it at this time. So, He makes a promise. “But when He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to all truth.” (Jn 16:12) Jesus entrusts the Holy Spirit to the Church and her leaders, the Apostles, so that the Church can understand, preserve and hand on the truths revealed by Him concerning God and His plan for our lives. Jesus pledges the Holy Spirit to the Church as a guarantee that she will never teach what is contrary to the will of the Father in matters of faith and morals.
A final snapshot is provided by the description of Pentecost given today in the Acts of the Apostles. A direct reference is made to the tower of Babel in the book of Genesis that serves as a symbol of the tragic disunity in our world caused by the sin of pride. Before humans started to build the tower, they speak the same language and live together in the same land. Following the start of its construction, God becomes upset because they disregarded Him and went about “doing whatever they presume to do.” (Gen 11:6) As a result, they become confused, start to speak different languages, and are scattered to the ends of the earth. The message is simple: the pride of man led to disunity. One of the principle effects of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as related by St. Luke in Acts is that everyone from around the world hears the Apostles proclaim the mighty deeds of God in their own language. God chooses to renew the whole world and to restore unity to humanity through the outpouring of the Spirit of love and the gift of faith in Christ Jesus.
As I stood some years ago learning against the rail and looking upon the Grand Canyon, I realized that I had to focus on certain specific scenes because I just could not take in the majesty of the whole canyon at once. Today, it helps to do the same as we ponder the great gift of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord assist us with His grace to see clearly the majesty of the Holy Spirit, especially as the Source of faith, love, truth and unity for all of mankind.
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