The “grammar” of the Holy Spirit
This Vincentian Mindwalk went down an entirely different path than I expected! (I still hope to explore that path in my next Mindwalk.) The following quote from a sermon of Pope Francis led me down the path of the title of this post.
These nouns come before any adjectives. Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults. It could be said that we are living in a culture of adjectives that forgets about the nouns that name the reality of things. But also a culture of the insult as the first reaction to any opinion that I do not share.
This post might be considered a “Papal Mindwalk” since it uses his words from his 2019 Pentecost homily. So let me back up a moment and start where Pope Francis started.
Stark divisions in today’s world
In today’s world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to a hundred and those who cannot even be born. There is always a temptation to build “nests”, to cling to our little group, to the things and people we like, to resist all contamination. It is only a small step from a nest to a sect, even within the Church. How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something!
The spirituality of nouns and adjectives
The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, brings together those who were distant, unites those far off, brings home those who were scattered. The Holy Spirit blends different tonalities in a single harmony, because before all else he sees goodness. The Holy Spirit looks at individuals before looking at their mistakes, at persons before their actions. The Spirit shapes the Church and the world as a place of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These nouns come before any adjectives.
Nowadays it is fashionable to hurl adjectives and, sadly, even insults. It could be said that we are living in a culture of adjectives that forgets about the nouns that name the reality of things.
But also a culture of the insult as the first reaction to any opinion that I do not share. Later we come to realize that this is harmful, to those insulted but also to those who insult. Repaying evil for evil, passing from victims to aggressors, is no way to go through life.
Those who live by the Spirit, however, bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict. Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism with encouragement. To be spiritual, to savor the harmony of the Spirit, we need to adopt his way of seeing things. We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as Church, as God’s People and as a human family. May he regenerate us!
Pope Francis’ Pentecost Plea
Brothers and sisters, let us daily implore the gift of the Spirit. Holy Spirit, harmony of God, you who turn fear into trust and self-centeredness into self-gift, come to us. Grant us the joy of the resurrection and perennially young hearts. Holy Spirit, our harmony, you who make of us one body, pour forth your peace upon the Church and our world. Holy Spirit, make us builders of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope.
The Spirit shapes the Church and the world as a place of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
This reflection first appeared on Vincentian Mindwalk.