Previous Next

But, who is the Holy Spirit?

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Dear Brothers.

After having celebrated the exaltation of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father in the solemnity of the Ascension, we celebrate today the solemnity of Pentecost and with it the sending of the Holy Spirit on the Church. Therefore, the liturgy pedagogically leads us to the experience of the entire Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ in each celebration. Today, when we celebrate the mystery of Pentecost, we conclude the celebration of the Easter season, although its effects will continue to be present in the liturgy and in the life of the Church. In the liturgy, we not only celebrate and update the Mystery, but we contemplate it, we enter in it and thus we can live what Saint Paul tells us in the Acts of the apostles: We live, move and exist in God. 

But who is the Holy Spirit? This question is urgent and more necessary than ever. Now we can not only say that the Holy Spirit is unknown to many but even ends up identifying him with one thing. Does not a very repeated song in Spanish say “something” is descending, “something” is descending, “something” is descending from above the heavens. That is the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt, it is a doctrinal error because the Holy Spirit is not something, it is someone because the Holy Spirit is a Person, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. It is true that we find it very difficult to identify the Holy Spirit as a person because we reduce the term "person" to the human person. But no. There was an ancient philosopher named Boethius who said: a person is an individual substance of a rational nature: substance, individual, rational. This definition of person can be applied to God, angels, and human beings. Therefore, there is the divine person, the angelic person, and the human person.

In the Creed, we say: I believe in the Holy Spirit, Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son receives the same adoration and glory, and who spoke by the prophets. When we say that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son, what we confess is that this Holy Spirit is the love that exists between the Father and the Son. For that reason, Saint Paul, in the Letter to the Romans, tells us: The love of God has been poured into our hearts with the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God's love in our lives. Then, we hear in the second reading of today's mass that no one can say Jesus is Lord unless it is with the force of the Holy Spirit. In other words, no one can be and live the Christian life if not by the force of the Holy Spirit. 

Human language is extremely limited to speak of God. There are not enough words to allow us to speak properly of God. Hence, Jesus used the genre of the parable, theologians use analogies and comparisons, and mystics use images and symbols to express the reality of God. But always with the awareness that the human word is insufficient to express the mystery of God. Therefore, in the New Testament, we find that the Holy Ghost is compared to a dove, even though He is not a dove. In today's first reading it is compared to tongues of fire, but He is not a tongue of fire. Saint Basil the Great compares Him to the rays of the sun, which being one and unique, distributed throughout all of creation and achieves His own effect on each of the elements of creation. Saint Cyril of Alexandria, explaining why the Holy Spirit is like water, says that just as water the Holy Spirit is one and unique, He fertilizes each of the plants according to the specific nature of each one: to the vine, as the vine, to the palm tree like a palm tree. 

As Christians, we are called to know the Holy Spirit, according to what is expressed in Holy Scripture, in the tradition of the Church and in theology. But beyond a theoretical knowledge of the Holy Spirit, we are called to live the presence of this Spirit in each of our hearts. The Holy Spirit is the one who animates the life of the Church in the action and commitment of men and women who are faithful to their vocation within the Church. It is the Holy Spirit who strengthens the witness of the martyrs, the consecration of the virgins, the wisdom of the doctors, the audacity of the missionaries, the commitment of those who commit themselves to charity. The Holy Spirit encourages the lives of bishops, priests, and deacons. The Holy Spirit makes us religious witness to the life and holiness of the Church. The Holy Spirit fertilizes the life of the spouses and makes each family a domestic sanctuary in which God is praised and glorified.

May the Virgin, Mother of Mercy, who was in the midst of the disciples on the day of Pentecost, make possible with her maternal intercession the constant presence of the Spirit among us, so that we may be able to live the experience of a new Pentecost.

By Fr. Ángel Villasmil, OP.