PENTECOST THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
May 18, 2018
The feast of Pentecost brings to an end the Easter season. What began on Easter Sunday with the bodily resurrection of our Lord culminates with Jesus’ ascension into heaven and initiates the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost.
The Catholic catechism puts it this way:
“The Church was made manifest to the world on the day of Pentecost by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit ushers in a new era in the “dispensation of the mystery” – the age of the Church, during which Christ manifest, makes present, and communicates his work of salvation through the liturgy of his Church, “until he comes.” 1Cor. 11:26. In this age of the Church Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church, in a new way appropriate to this new age. He acts through the sacraments in what the common Tradition of the East and West calls “the sacramental economy”; this is the communication (or “dispensation”) of the fruits of Christ’s Paschal mystery in the celebration of the Church’s “sacramental” liturgy.” CCC 1076
The primitive Church has always understood the importance of this event in their writings. The bishop Saint Hilary (no relation to Hillary Clinton) was a bishop and doctor of the Church. He confronted many of the theological errors of his day especially the heresy of Arianism. Arianism was a teaching that denied the divinity of Christ and taught that there was a time when Christ did not exist but was created at some point by the Father. This is the heresy of Arianism. Saint Hilary wrote extensively on the subject of the Trinity in order to demonstrate that Jesus and the Father are of one substance with the Holy Spirit, and that all three persons act in unison to bring about the will of God, which is the triumph of love in the world.
Here are just a few comments taken from Saint Hilary’s treatise On the Trinity:
The Father’s gift in Christ
Our Lord commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, then, we profess faith in the Creator, in the only-begotten Son and in the gift which is the Spirit. There is on Creator of all things, for in God there is one Father from whom all things have their being. And there is on only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist. And there is one Spirit, the gift who is in all. So all follow their due order, according to the proper operation of each: one power, which brings all things into being, one Son, through whom all things come to be, and one gift of perfect hope. Nothing is wanting to this flawless union: in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, there is infinity of endless being, perfect reflection of the divine image, and mutual enjoyment of the gift.
Our Lord has described the purpose of the Spirit’s presence in us. Let us listen to his words: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. It is to your advantage that I go away; if I go, I will send you the Advocate. And also: I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. He will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine. Jn. 16: 12-15
From among many our Lord’s sayings, these have been chosen to guide our understanding, for they reveal to us the intention of the giver, the nature of the gift and the condition for its reception. Since our weak minds cannot comprehend the Father or the Son, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our intermediary and advocate, to shed light on that hard doctrine of our faith, the incarnation of God.
We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. Not that these senses would lose their own nature if they were not used; rather, they demand objects of experience in order to function. It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.
This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world, and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.
Just a short reflection on the inner working of the Holy Trinity and Spirits role in that work for us to reflect on for the next two weeks.