Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Holy Spirit: Who? What?

This Sunday, May 24, is Pentecost Sunday.  It is the day that Christians once again celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles and the Blessed Mother in the upper room in Jerusalem all those years ago.  At that event, the apostles were inspired in their task to evangelize the world.  The Holy Spirit is to remain with us until the end of time so that the Church and its members will forever be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth.  Also at that event, the Holy Spirit apparently took the form of “a strong, driving wind” and “tongues of fire.”

The Holy Spirit sometimes also takes the form of a dove in Scripture.  All four gospels give an account of this when Jesus is baptized.  In the Gospel of Luke, we read the following:  “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.’”  The photograph below is a depiction of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. 

So, what or who is this Holy Spirit exactly?  The Church teaches that the Holy Spirit is God, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity.  And so we have the assurance that God Himself, through the Church and in the person of the Holy Spirit, continues to guide us to our eternal destiny of being with God in heaven.  In the quote from Luke above, all three members of the Trinity were apparently present.  These are beautiful thoughts and should inspire all of us to acknowledge God and to continually strive for holiness.

Sometimes I like to think of the Holy Spirit as a “what” as well as a “who.”  We often use the word “spirit” as a “what,” as in an action that gets our adrenaline flowing, like the strong, driving wind in Scripture.  We have “spirit” when our favorite sports team competes.  Or we have a “spirited” discussion with someone who has certain views that oppose ours.  A Christian congregation can have this “what” kind of “spirit” when it has a charismatic experience.  In this kind of experience, it can be the holy spirit and can also inspire us to strive for holiness and can help bring us closer to God.  In this sense, the “who” Holy Spirit and the “what” Holy Spirit seem to merge.

Here is my prayer for today:  Holy Spirit, please come upon us in whatever form you choose and keep us under your protective wing so that we never falter in our striving for holiness.  Amen.

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