As we prepare for the great feast of Pentecost, we turn our minds to a consideration of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity and the powerful impact the Spirit has on the lives of believers.
We cast our minds back to the opening pages of Scripture in which we are told that God and Adam enjoyed one another’s presence in the Garden of Eden especially in the evening hours when they would walk through the garden enjoying the evening breezes. After the fall of Adam and Eve through the duplicity of the serpent, they lost the privilege of walking with God and were expelled from the garden. From that point onward, the human race has struggled to maintain a relationship with the Creator. God initiated several attempts to reestablish that relationship in the various covenants that were made with the children of Israel. The promise was always the same: if the children of Israel would be God’s people, God would be their God. For thousands of years, that covenant relationship was constantly tested, often resulting in devastating results as the people failed to live up to the dictates of the Law.
In Jesus, God sets aside the notion of a covenant based upon the Law and embraces a covenant based upon Love. For ages, the children of Israel had sung that God’s love was everlasting. Yet when the singing stopped, it was difficult for them to embrace the message. In the dying and rising of Jesus, God’s love became the basis of a new covenant in the person of Jesus, God among us. However, Jesus’ time on earth was brief. In order to remind those who believed that Jesus was God in the flesh of the fact that He was still with them, God imparts the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, upon all those who believe and are baptized.
Not only does that Spirit remind us that Jesus is still among us, the Spirit also bears the gifts promised in an oracle of Isaiah and imparts them upon all who are members of the Body of Christ. “The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:2-3a). The Apostle Paul also enumerates various gifts of the Holy Spirit in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Through the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are able to develop a lasting relationship with God, a relationship that was part of the design at the moment of creation. God desires nothing more. Throughout this week we would benefit greatly if we spent time praying about the various gifts we have received in the Holy Spirit and how best to use them.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator