I Believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life
What better day to reflect on this mysterious profession of our faith then on Pentecost, the day we liturgically celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and therefore also the birth of the Church!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “…Jesus uses the sensory image of the wind to suggest to Nicodemus the transcendent newness of Him who is personally God’s breath, the divine Spirit. ‘Spirit’ and ‘Holy’ are divine attributes common to the three divine persons. By joining the two terms, Scripture, liturgy, and theological language designate the inexpressible person of the Holy Spirit.
If I exhausted all possibilities in attempting to explain what could be said of the ineffable, inscrutable, inexpressible Holy Spirit of the Lord this little reflection would turn into several books and in the end we would be left as dry as the dry bones on the plains of the Prophet Ezekiel; whereas, the Holy Spirit of the Lord is truly the giver of Life!
In the Gospel reading for the vigil of the feast of Pentecost (John 7:37-39) we read: “Jesus stood up and exclaimed, Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. As scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me. He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive.”
Other translations use even stronger terms: Jesus stood and cried out or Jesus took a stance and shouted! Not only that, but we know that this proclamation occurred “on the last and greatest day of the feast” when there would have been a vast gathering of people from all parts. Jesus’ stance, his manner and the timing of the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles all indicate the intensity, the great earnestness of his plea. How deep was and is his desire to make us understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no true happiness except in Him! Come and drink, you shall have what you come for, and abundantly more, you shall have that which will not only refresh, but replenish, your soul that desires to be happy. St. Augustine will later highlight this dimension of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity by saying, “In the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the sweetness of the Begetter (the Father) and the Begotten (the Son), pours out upon us mere creatures His immense bounty and wealth.” (De Trinitatae VI, 10)
But the Gift of the Holy Spirit and the marvelous manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit come to us at a great price. At the end of our Gospel reading John says, “There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” And for John, reference to Jesus’s glorification is reference to his crucifixion. Elsewhere, John gives another hint of the fearful cost to Jesus when we hear on his lips, “Unless I go, the Advocate will not come; but when I have been taken from you, I will send him to you.”
In saying this, I think the most important thing we can do on Pentecost Sunday is to reflect gratefully on the beauty of our lives as Christians and how it is that we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, our comforter and guide. He is the pledge of our hope for a bright future, the light of our minds and the splendor that irradiates our understanding. The Holy Spirit prays in us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech and best of all, the whole infinite Love of God is poured out into our heart by this Spirit who is LOVE & GIFT in the Blessed Trinity. And let us never forget the passion of the Lord Jesus through whom all these good things come!
Sr. Denise Marie, OP
Vigil of Pentecost, May 18, 2013