Friday, June 10, 2011

Come Holy Spirit

As we approach the Solemnity of Pentecost we realize that the Holy Spirit is about speech. In the Creed we say of the Holy Spirit that 'he has spoken through the prophets' and we read that the Spirit of the Lord fell on the disciples ... Jesus taught his disciples that they were not to worry about what they should say when called to bear witness to their faith, for the Spirit would give them the words they needed. We read that the gift of speech was given to the disciples so that each person listening heard them in his own dialect telling about the mighty works of God. So the Holy Spirit is about speech.

But the Holy Spirit is also about depth. St Paul says that the Spirit searches the depths of everything, even the depths of God. So the Spirit is radical. As the psalmist puts it, 'the foundations of the world are laid bare at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.' The foundations of our lives are laid bare and so Jesus, in breathing the Holy Spirit on his disciples, says 'the sins you forgive are forgiven and the sins you retain are retained.' The Spirit reaches the place from which words come and in which they originate. He has to do with motivation, intention, conception of words and deeds. He has to do with the thoughts that lie beneath words and deeds and omissions, and even with what lies beneath thoughts. We are given the Spirit to drink and so, just as we are immersed in the Spirit in baptism, the Spirit is immersed in us. Saint Paul tells us that 'the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.'

The Spirit is about speech and depth, and so He builds a new community. He establishes communities established on speech. St Thomas Aquinas says 'communication makes the city.' Community building are largely about this: getting people to talk, finding words on which people can agree, creating structures so relationships hold it together.