Oct 19, 2011
For the past several weeks, our reflections have focused on the suffering Lord according to St. Paul’s hymn in Philippians 2:5-11. This week, we shall expand on the last two verses in this hymns: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”(vv 9-11).
The cross of Jesus was his resurrection; he burned himself out to give us his light. His life was the candle that burned itself out in order to give its light to all. In Psalm 22, though we see the faithful soul suffering and forsaken, we also see that soul who places itself entirely in the hands of the Lord who will deliver it. The psalm closes with the afflicted one praising the Lord. On the cross, Jesus expressed the meaning of Psalm 22 in his prayer to the Father. Jesus foretold his last hours on the cross: “If I be lifted up, I will draw all things to myself” (Jn 12:32). The Father transforms and raises up Jesus’ death into resurrection glory. The Father glorifies him and proclaims him to be Lord of the universe. Jesus’ humility and obedience of faith, total trust, and love are transformed and raised to God’s glory, and henceforth, “there is an upward movement in the whole of creation” (Sermon of St. Maximus of Turin, Office of Readings, “Liturgy of the Hours,” Volume II: 817). The folly of our human suffering becomes our glory as well, but we see this after the fact, after we have been elevated—raised to God’s glory. When people suffer out of love for God, it is only the fact that they have been inflamed by the most sublime of beauties–a beauty crowned with thorns–that justifies their sharing in that suffering.
As the Son was sent in the Father’s name to redeem the world, so the Spirit stands in relation to the Son who makes the world whole and holy (Jn 5:43; 10:25). At the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples that he will ask the Father to send them the Advocate, who will not come until he (Jesus) goes away (Jn 14:14; Jn 16:7). Then the Spirit will teach the world all things (Jn 15:15).
The Holy Spirit is God’s own Self giving life to the world. The creative and life-giving energy of God is also the source of movement and life in the created world.
The Spirit is our Advocate. Now an advocate is one who is called to help someone in need of counsel who imparts wisdom and fortitude in us. The Spirit comforts and consoles, supports, prods, protects, pleads, and intercedes for us before the Father (1 Jn 2:1). Bearing witness to Christ (Jn 15:26), our Advocate shames the unbelieving world, and enlightens its darkness (Jn16:8-11). The Spirit-Advocate serves as the jury and judge. Upholding the truth (Jn 16:9), our Advocate teaches us right from wrong and helps us interpret the glamour of sin and the deceits of Satan “who prowls about disguised as an angel of light” (2 Cor11:14;1Jn 4:1). Where is the Spirit? The Spirit is at work always and everywhere leading us forward to the eternal, always seeking new ways of bringing forth new fruit (Jn 16:13). In Eastern Christianity, the following prayer is chanted on Pentecost and at other times during the year: “Heavenly King, Consoler, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, the Treasury of Blessings and the Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, cleanse us of all stain and save our souls, O Good One!” (“Byzantine Daily Worship,” compiled by Joseph Raya and José de Vinck (Alleluia Press, 899) The hymns honoring the Spirit, Veni, Creator (Come, Holy Ghost) Spiritus and Veni, Sancte, Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit) repay meditation and prayer for they describe the life-giving creative Spirit who, as the Holy Spirit, also fills the heart of the entire world. For beautiful translations, see: www.preces-latinae.org.
Images of the Spirit
The Scriptures name the Spirit as breath and wind, energy and power, as fire and water, justice, art, and artistic creativity. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” teaches that the Spirit is present in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, the Magisterium, the Liturgy, charisms, signs in apostolic and missionary life, in the witness of the saints. The Spirit dwells within every person as the principle of life. The Spirit blows freely in extra-biblical religions, giving abundantly to man and woman who live the new commandment of love. In fact, men and women will do far greater works than Jesus himself (Jn 14:12). The Spirit builds up the community of love, not just as a mere personal gift but also as a personal giver of gifts.