Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
From the very beginning the Holy Spirit has been a mysterious presence and power in the Church that it little understood. Many have little understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, in the life of the Church, and in their own lives. We seem to think that the Holy Spirit came upon the scene at Pentecost in mighty winds and fiery tongues and then just as suddenly disappeared never to return. The truth is that the Holy Spirit has been at work from the very beginning to creation and will continue that work until the end of time.
And contrary to what we may think not every operation of the Holy Spirit is spectacular. It is not only the mighty winds of Pentecost but also the gentle breezes of the present moment that constantly refresh and renew the Church and its members. And not every operation of the Holy Spirit is instantaneous. Most of the time the operation of the Holy Spirit is gradual and progressive like the seed planted by the farmer.
To understand the working of the Holy Spirit we have to turn to Jesus, he is our model. Jesus came not only to redeem us but to give us an example of what it means to be authentically human. He was like unto us in all things but sin. And the human Jesus was Spirit-led. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit at the Annunciation and lived his whole life under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. “He went down to Nazareth and was subject to them. And he grew in age and wisdom and grace before God and men.”
He was the product and heir of what the Holy Spirit had been doing in Israel for years. During the long years at Nazareth the Spirit taught him by means of the law, the prophets and the prayers of the Chosen People. He heard the Word of God in the synagogue at Nazareth. From his mother he learned how to ponder in his heart these treasured records of God’s way of dealing with His Chosen People and how to pray the Psalms. It was the realization of being within the Chosen People that he came to see that he was the Chosen One of the Chosen People, the promised Messiah, the anointed, the Christ.
When he left Nazareth to begin his public life he was baptized by John in the Jordan. Then it was that the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove. And his Father said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Then he was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He returned to Galilee where he went to the synagogue in Nazareth. He read from Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…because he has anointed me to bring good tidings to the poor.” And then he said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your presence.”
It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that he expelled demons although the Pharisees claimed that he did it by the power of Beelzebub. By the power of the Holy Spirit he healed the sick, forgave sinners and raised the dead to life. At the Last Supper he promised his apostles that he would send them the Holy Spirit to teach them all he had said and to remain with them to the end. After his resurrection he delegated the power to forgive sins to the apostles, “Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you shall forgive are forgiven…” Before he died on the cross he said, “Father into thy hands I commend my Spirit.”
Jesus life on earth was Spirit-led. He is our model; He is “the way, the truth and the life.” This means that our lives also should be Spirit-led. Spirit-led gives us a different idea of what the imitation of Christ means. It does not mean to imitate him externally in his actions but to imitate him internally by being led by the Holy Spirit as he was. This will fill our lives with love, joy and peace which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your divine love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray: O God who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever to rejoice in his consolations, through Christ our Lord. Amen”
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