The Most Holy Spirit11 June 2020
‘He said this concerning the Spirit’
On the last day of the feast of the Tabernacles, Christ revealed that He Himself is the source of life. Because people would be leaving to go back to their homes, Christ’s words were provisions for their salvation. The Lord said that those who were thirsty should come to Him and that rivers of living water would flow from their bellies (John 7, 38). The word ‘belly’ here means the heart. Clearly, the ‘water’ is the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is the unfailing fount of the grace of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our heart, Christ’s gifts and talents flow incessantly. As He said to the Samaritan woman: ‘the water that I shall give will become a spring of water welling up within them to eternal life’.
Christ became the cause of the Holy Spirit’s descent onto us
Christ became the first-fruit of the new human person, that is of our renewed human nature. By His death and Resurrection He cleansed the human race of its sin and made our nature worthy to receive the grace of the Holy Spirit on a permanent basis. Formerly, our ancestor Adam lost the grace of the Holy Spirit and sullied his image through his disobedience to God’s will and command. At that moment, the whole of the human race lost the God-given benefit of the grace of the Comforter. This is why the Lord became human: in order for the grace of the Holy Spirit to take root in each one of us. Saint Cyril of Alexandria writes that, among the Prophets we simply have a rich illumination and flares of the torch of the Holy Spirit, since they were given both the ability to understand the future and also the knowledge of the secret mysteries of God. Those who believe in Christ and become members of His Church don’t receive the Holy Spirit merely from time to time, but have Him with them always, actually becoming His temple. We’re the temple of ‘the Holy Spirit within us’. (1 Cor. 6, 19).
Signs of the Holy Spirit
The ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ declare that those who have acquired the Holy Spirit will have Him continuously abiding in them, provided they remain worthy and pure. But if He departs from people, the following occurs: they become devoid of God’s grace and fall prey to the evil demons.
The Holy Spirit is in all places and fills all things, but He shows His power only to those who are worthy. Whom does the Holy Spirit visit? Not unbelievers, nor the ambitious, nor the orators, nor the philosophers, nor those who are great names, nor the law-breakers. He descends upon the humble and those who have a pure heart. He dwells with this who are plain in their speech and even plainer in their lives, whose views are pure and direct and who avoid praise. The Holy Spirit is the gift of our freedom, granted to us by Christ, through His Resurrection.
The Holy Spirit is in the Church
We can retain the Holy Spirit permanently in the Church through prayer, ascetic efforts and the wondrous mystery of the Divine Eucharist. The faithful are given a ‘dose’ of grace but whether we retain its fullness depends on our inner purity. Some people may preserve thirty per cent, some sixty and others one hundred. Some have it permanently, others from time to time, others hardly at all. The signs of the Holy Spirit’s residence within us are the experience of adoption- that is, that we’re God’s children- the peace we find within ourselves, the forgiveness we show to our enemies, our desire for salvation, the control over our passions, the serenity of our thoughts, the increase in our talents, disdain for wealth, purity of the body, the proper faith and so on.
My sisters and brothers,
Our struggle to retain the grace of the Comforter permanently is life-long. Let’s make sure that we’re conscientious in our lives and that we have trust in God, so that we may experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in our heart.