Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
This week we find ourselves in the heart of the Novena to the Holy Spirit, as we sharpen our senses and listen more intently for his instruction. I truly believe that the world is desperately in need of a new Pentecost when the truth will be heard clearly and people will respond in love.
I thought I would include in the column today a quick catechesis of the Holy Spirit that Pope Francis gave while in the Holy Land this past weekend.
“Today’s Gospel and this place to which, by God’s grace, I have come as a pilgrim, invite us to meditate on the Holy Spirit and on all that he has brought about in Christ and in us. In a word, we can say that the Holy Spirit carries out three actions – he prepares, he anoints and he sends.”
He explained, “At the baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus to prepare him for his mission of salvation. … Yet the Holy Spirit, present from the beginning of salvation history, had already been at work in Jesus from the moment of his conception in the virginal womb of Mary of Nazareth … and acted in Simeon and Anna on the day of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. … They gave prophetic expression to the joy of encountering the Redeemer and, in a certain sense, served as a preparation for the encounter between the Messiah and the people. These various works of the Holy Spirit are part of a harmonious action, a sole divine plan of love. The mission of the Holy Spirit, in fact, is to beget harmony – he is himself harmony – and to create peace in different situations and between different people. Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches. So today, with fervent hearts, we invoke the Holy Spirit and ask him to prepare the path to peace and unity.”
Secondly, “the Holy Spirit also anoints. He anointed Jesus inwardly and he anoints his disciples, so that they can have the mind of Christ and thus be disposed to live lives of peace and communion. Through the anointing of the Spirit, our human nature is sealed with the holiness of Jesus Christ and we are enabled to love our brothers and sisters with the same love which God has for us. We ought, therefore, to show concrete signs of humility, fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation. These signs are the prerequisite of a true, stable and lasting peace. Let us ask the Father to anoint us so that we may fully become his children, ever more conformed to Christ, and may learn to see one another as brothers and sisters. Thus, by putting aside our grievances and divisions, we can show fraternal love for one another.”
Finally, the Holy Spirit sends. “Jesus is the one who is sent forth, filled with the Spirit of the Father. Anointed by the same Spirit, we also are sent as messengers and witnesses of peace. The world has much need of us as messengers of peace, witnesses of peace! The world needs this. The world asks us to bring peace and to be a sign of peace! Peace is not something which can be bought or sold; it is a gift to be sought patiently and to be ‘crafted’ through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives. The way of peace is strengthened if we realize that we all of the same stock and members of the one human family; if we never forget that we have the same heavenly Father and are all his children, made in his image and likeness.”
“It is in this spirit that I embrace all of you.”
Pope Francis’ comments go right to the heart of our understanding of right relationship with God and with one another. To be made in his image and likeness in every way, we acknowledge that, as persons, we have a role in finding our own fulfillment in the context of the community that forms out of the love of the Holy Spirit – the Church. We must, therefore, always turn to him for our help, the words to say, the inspiration to act. Most of all, we discover that he is love, and we seek him everywhere we go.
May God bless you.