The Holy Spirit

The Easter Season gradually builds toward a crescendo. The Resurrected Lord prepares the Apostles for His ascension into heaven, but assures them that the new creation He had promised in the kingdom will be given through them.

On the sixth Sunday of Easter we hear Our Lord’s words: “whoever loves me keeps my word, and my Father will love him and make our dwelling with him.” Jesus uses the first person plural “our,” echoing back to the Book of Genesis when we hear God, speaking to the Son in the Holy Spirit, say “let us make man in our image and in our likeness.”

Jesus goes on to say that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” Jesus’ departure at the ascension is not a “goodbye” and “best of luck.” He promises that He and the Father will remain in the world through the Holy Spirit.

The faith of the Church is that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son by way of spiration, a word which means the action of breathing as a life-giving function. This is exactly how the Book of Genesis says God made the first man, Adam: “the Lord God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life.”

This indicates that the life-breath of God has been in the world since the beginning, but Jesus promises to send it in a new way after His ascension because, in a way, the Father and the Son are recreating mankind and, indeed, the whole world through the Church. This gift of recreation will, as Jesus tells us, “lead us into all truth.”

One comfort the Church offers through its magisterial, or teaching function, is that it protects us from errors. If we accept the Church’s interpretation of Scripture then it gives us assurance that we live lives pleasing to the Lord. If we rely on our own  interpretations, however, difficulties arise.

The Acts of the Apostles shows how the Apostles listened to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in deciding that Gentile-Christians did not have to first be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law in order to then become Christians. There was no personal interpretation, but rather a decision made in prayer remembering the words of the prophet Isaiah indicating that the Messiah would come as a light to all the nations, non-Jews included, as well as Jesus’ invitation to the adulterous Samaritan woman to leave behind her sinful ways and follow Him.

Personal interpretation could be one explanation for the recent atrocity in Boston. The Quran has at least 245 verses that exhort believers to respect non-adherents and live peaceably with them. The Quran has at least 109 verses that exhort believers to destroy the unbeliever. Some believe that the 109 violent verses abrogate, or supersede the 245 peace verses because the violent verses come after the verses of peace in order of chronology. This seems to have been the interpretation of the alleged bombers in Boston.

God loves us so much that He sent us His only Son, who in turn died to give birth to the Church, which has the Holy Spirit as its guarantor of truth. If we can find the courage to accept Him and His Church then we are a new creation in this same old world.