Today is the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the Church. In my homily I spoke about the Holy Spirit as THE LORD, THE GIVER OF LIFE and expanded this with reference to what St Paul had to say in the second reading (copied at the very end).
The Holy Spirit is the giver of spiritual life. The Hebrew word for spirit is Ruah which also means ‘breath’. At baptism God breathed his spirit of life into us. It is like the physical breathing that gives us biological life.
The first mark of being spiritual alive is that we recognise God as our loving Father. As St Paul said in the second reading: Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’
The second mark is that we have an appetite for spiritual things like prayer and self-giving love: People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. Correspondingly we loose our appetite for the unspiritual like the sometimes worldly chatter in the tabloid press and magazines, the TV and Radio chat shows, etc.
The third mark of being spiritually alive is that we have respect for the commandments of God – like what we heard in the gospel: ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments… If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him.’ I then went on to refer to Mrs Higgins’ call last week that abortion should be legalised for unborn babies with life limiting illnesses. The fifth commandment THOU SHALT NOT KILL makes no such distinctions. Such babies should be given the same love and respect as say terminally ill patients in a hospice.
So after all that, how do we describe the Holy Spirit? Because of the nature of the Spirit, poetry serves us best. Ponder prayerfully the following SEQUENCE from today’s liturgy. If you are pressed for time, do so later in the week.
Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.
Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure;
Come, thou light of all that live!
Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow;
Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:
If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend:
Give us comfort when we die;
Give us life with thee on high;
Give us joys that never end.
SECOND READING: Romans 8:8-17
Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God .
People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God. Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him. Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
So then, my brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives. If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.
Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God. And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.