From today’s first reading:
“… Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
From today’s Gospel:
“…the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”
Dear fellow pilgrims,
As I’m meditating about today’s readings, I see a common thread of the Holy Spirit through the first reading and the gospel reading. In the first reading, the Holy Spirit is described as both a “witness” to Christ’s death and resurrection and a gift from God granted to those who are obedient to Him. In the gospel reading, the Holy Spirit is described as a gift that never runs out, a gift that is always given out of abundance, a gift that is never given from a miserly, calculating heart. I think the Holy Spirit is the least understood member of the Trinity, and I think that is in part because he is the least embodied; we have an idea of the personhood of the Father, the Son, but who really is the Holy Spirit? I had to refresh myself on some theology out of the Catechism:
745 The Son of God was consecrated as Christ (Messiah) by the anointing of the Holy Spirit at his Incarnation (cf. Ps 2:6-7).
746 By his Death and his Resurrection, Jesus is constituted in glory as Lord and Christ (cf. Acts 2:36). From his fullness, he poured out the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the Church.
747 The Holy Spirit, whom Christ the head pours out on his members, builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church. She is the sacrament of the Holy Trinity’s communion with men.
There is something new about the Holy Spirit that was revealed to me as I read more…. the inseparability between the Holy Spirit and Christ, likened to how the oil of anointing seeps into the skin of the anointed. Christ and the Holy Spirit are inseparable, and each informs the other’s identity: the Anointed and the anointing cannot be so without the other. And this anointing is the divine nature of Christ given by the Father to be enmeshed with Mary’s immaculate DNA to create the Incarnate God, Jesus. This is the reckless love of God, to be united with His creation in such a way.
But the Incarnation was not the whole mission of Jesus, it was the qualifying state of His Being that enabled the larger mission of unleashing the deepest possible union between humans and their God through being the type of son that humans could never be: completely obedient, because Jesus submitted Himself to death completely to serve the will of the Father.
Jesus did not want to die. And yet, He did, and did so completely out of love for us because He trusted the Father’s love for us and for Him. Only because of His humanity did He know that His mission of obedience was inseparable from ours, and only because of His divine anointing and union with the Holy Spirit did He know that His mission of atonement was inseparable from the Father’s. And somehow, through the culmination of these inseparable missions in His passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven, an overflowing channel of the Holy Spirit was released into the hearts of obedient believers following after Him.
The barrier between Man and God was broken by Christ’s broken Body and became the chasm through which the Holy Spirit can now be embodied by non-divine people like us. Within this new relationship between God and Man, the Holy Spirit has one mission: to continue the Incarnation within us. And this gift is recklessly given, it is not rationed or divided because God’s love is never proportioned to what we deserve, God’s love mirrors the infinite mercy of the Giver. But this Spirit cannot be given to those who do not believe in Christ because of the inseparability of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and this is why obedience to Christ makes way for the movement of the Spirit: the Spirit cannot move through channels that have not conformed to Christ’s wounds.
Gracious God, You Who make all things new,
Create in us hearts of flesh,
Holding close to the beat of your Heart,
Which never ceases to live in pursuit of ours.
Good Jesus, may we learn from your perfect Sonship,
Your Sacred Heart, that did not deny the will of your Father’s.
Hide us in the wounds of your passion,
teach us the way of your glorious scars,
And bring us closer to your perfect obedience here within time
So that we may not have to wait any longer for eternity when You come.