A Vincentian View: “The Gift of the Spirit”
The readings in the Scripture for these days have directed our attention more than once to the gift of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promises the Christian community. On this past Sunday, we heard:
“The Advocate, the holy Spirit
that the Father will send in my name—
he will teach you everything
and remind you of all that [I] told you.” (Jn 14:26)
And in the Gospel reading from Monday, we hear something similar:.
“When the Advocate comes
whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.” (Jn 15:26)
Then on Wednesday, Jesus announces:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.” (Jn 16:12-13)
While he was with them, the disciples could not comprehend all Jesus’ teaching and the meaning of his actions. They were just not ready to hear and see. But they would be ready after Jesus had suffered and died and been raised to new life. Jesus promised them, and us, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This Holy Spirit does not say anything new. She simply helps the reader to understand the meaning of the words which Jesus spoke. We are in the season of the year when we await the gift of the Holy Spirit as the first disciples did. Two weeks from today, we will celebrate Pentecost—the great feast of the Spirit which reminds us that God dwells with us and speaks to us through his Spirit.
When St. Vincent de Paul spoke to his community about the action of the Spirit, he had this to say:
“When it is said that the Holy Spirit acts in anyone, we mean that the Holy Spirit, abiding in such a person, bestows the same inclinations and the same dispositions as Jesus Christ had on earth, and causes this person to act in the same way. I do not say with equal perfection, but according to the measure of the gifts of this Divine Spirit.”
Let us ask for some measure of that Spirit in these days. Our deep desire calls for the Spirit to enable us to listen to God’s word and know the way in which it leads and strengthens us. This word can set us on fire as we hear its challenge in new ways; it can give us the strength to do new things as it nourishes us along our journey. In Advent, we say “Maranatha”—Come, Lord Jesus. In the Easter season, we can say “Veni Creator Spiritus”—Come, Creator Spirit! We pray to be better hearers and doers of God’s word.