Docility to the Holy Spirit

Our Lord Jesus wants it: we have to follow him closely. There is no other way. This is the task of the Holy Spirit in each soul, in yours too. You have to be docile, so as not to put obstacles in the way of your God. – St Josemaria, The Forge

Let us describe, at least in general, the way of life which will bring us to deal in a familiar manner with the Holy Spirit, and together with him, the Father and the Son. We can fix our attention on three fundamental points: docility, life of prayer, and union with the cross.

First of all docility, because it is the Holy Spirit who, with his inspirations, gives a supernatural tone to our thoughts, desires and actions. It is he who leads us to receive Christ’s teaching and to assimilate it in a profound way. It is he who gives us the light by which we perceive our personal calling and the strength to carry out all that God expects of us. If we are docile to the Holy Spirit, the image of Christ will be formed more and more fully in us, and we will be brought closer every day to God the Father. “For whoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God.”

If we let ourselves be guided by this life‑giving principle, who is the Holy Spirit in us, our spiritual vitality will grow. We will place ourselves in the hands of our Father God, with the same spontaneity and confidence with which a child abandons himself to his father’s care. Our Lord has said: “Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is the old and well‑known “way of childhood,” which is not sentimentality or lack of human maturity. It is a supernatural maturity, which makes us realize more deeply the wonders of God’s love, while leading us to acknowledge our own smallness and identify our will fully with God’s will.

– St Josemaria, Christ is passing

Why did Jesus offer himself as “food and drink” to his disciples?

Comunione degli apostoli by Guido Cornini
Comunione degli apostoli by Guido Cornini

Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced earlier at Capernaum – giving his disciples his body and his blood (Jon 6:51-58). Jesus’ passing over to his Father by his death and resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Last Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of God’s kingdom.

This is the most significant meal of Jesus and the most important occasion of his breaking of bread. In this meal Jesus identifies the bread as his body and the cup as his blood. When the Lord Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites us to take his life into the very center of our being (John 6:53). That life which he offers is the very life of God himself. Jesus’ death on the cross, his gift of his body and blood in the Supper, and his promise to dine again with his disciples when the kingdom of God comes in all its fullness are inseparably linked.

Jesus instructed his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me”. These words establish every Lord’s Supper of Eucharist as a “remembrance” of Jesus’ atoning death, his resurrection, and his promise to return again. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper anticipates the final day when the Lord Jesus will feast anew with his disciples in the heavenly marriage feast of the Lamb and his Bride. Do you know the joy of the drinking Christ’s cup and tasting the bread of his Table in sincerity?

Mark ties the last supper meal with Jesus’ death and the coming of God’s kingdom. Jesus transforms the passover of the old covenant into the meal of the “new covenant in my blood”.

In the Old Covenant bread and wine were offered in a thanksgiving sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to the Creator as the giver and sustainer of life. Melchizedek, who was both a priest and king (Genesis 14;18, Hebrews 7:1-4), offered a sacrifice of bread and wine. His offering prefigured the offering made by Jesus, our high priest and king (Hebrews 7:26; 9:11; 10:12). The remembrance of the manna in the wilderness recalled to the people of Israel that they live – not by earthly bread alone – but by the bread of the Word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3).

The unleavened bread at Passover and the miraculous manna in the desert are the pledge of God’s faithfulness to his promises. The “cup of blessing” at the end of the Jewish passover meal points to the messianic expectation of the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Jesus gave a new and definitive meaning to the blessing of the bread and the cup when he instituted the “Lord’s Supper” or “Eucharist”. He speaks of the presence of his body and blood in this new meal. When at the Last Supper Jesus described his blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:28), he was explaining his coming crucifixion as a sacrifice for sins. His death on the cross fulfilled the sacrifice of the paschal lamb. That is why John the Baptist called him the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus made himself an offering and sacrifice, a gift that was truly pleasing to the Father. He offered himself without blemish to God (Hebrews 9:14) and gave himself as a sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). This meal was a memorial of his death and resurrection,

When we receive from the Lord’s table we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ, who makes us sharers in his body and blood. Ignatius of Antioch (35-107 A.D.) calls it the “one bread that provides the medicine of immortality, the antidote for death, and the food that makes us live for ever in Jesus Christ” (Ad Eph. 20,2). This supernatural food is healing for both body and soul and strength for our journey heavenward. When you approach the Table of the Lord, what do you expect to receive? Healing, pardon, comfort, and rest for your soul? The Lord has much more for us, more than we can ask or imagine. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ. As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens us in charity and enables us to break with disordered attachments to creatures and to be more firmly rooted in the love of Christ. Do you hunger for the “bread of life”?

“Lord Jesus, you nourish and sustain us with your very own presence and life. You are the “Bread of life” and the “Cup of Salvation”. May I always hunger for you and be satisfied in you alone.”

How can we know God?

Jesus revealed to his disciples the great mystery of our faith – the triune nature of God and the inseparable union of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus’ mission is to reveal the glory of God to us – a Trinity of persons – God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and to unite us with God in a community of love. The ultimate end, the purpose for which God created us, is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the blessed Trinity.

The Jews understood God as Creator and Father of all that he made (Deuteronomy 32:6) and they understood the nation of Israel as God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22). Jesus reveals the Father in a unheard of sense. He is eternally Father by his relationship to his only Son, who, reciprocally, is Son only in relation to his Father (see Matthew 11:27). The Spirit, likewise, is inseparably one with the Father and the Son.

The mission of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit are the same. That is why Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit will reveal the glory of the Father and the Son and will speak what is true. Before his Passover, Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit as the “Paraclete” and Helper who will be with Jesus’ disciples to teach and guide them “into all truth” (John 14:17,26; 16:13). In baptism we are called to share in the life of the Holy Trinity here on earth in faith and after death in eternal light.

Clement of Alexandria, a third century chuch father, wrote: “What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos (Word) of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her ‘Church’.”

How can we personally know the Father and his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ? It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the Father and the Son to us and who gives us the gift of faith to know and understand the truth of God’s word. Through the Holy Spirit, we proclaim our ancient faith in the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until he comes again. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit as our divine Teacher and Helper that we may grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God. Do you seek the wisdom that comes from above and do you willingly obey God’s word?

Jesus’ departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus’ physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus’ presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time. He assured them of his power – a power which overcame sin and death. Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Saviour, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to give them the power of his Holy Spirit, which we see fulfilled ten days later on the Feast of Pentecost (Luke 24:49 and Acts 2:1-4). When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left alone or powerless. Jesus assured of his presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ last words to his apostles point to his saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of his saving death and his glorious resurrection and to proclaim the good news of salvation to all the world. Their task is to proclaim the good news of salvation, not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations. God’s love and gift of salvation is not just for a few, or for a nation, but it is for the whole world – for all who will accept it. The gospel is the power of God, the power to forgive sins, to heal, to deliver from evil and oppression, and to restore life. Do you believe in the power of the gospel?

– Don Schwager

Reflections for Trinity Sunday

We can celebrate this great solemnity, not by thinking about or arguing about concepts about how the Trinity works, but by opening our hearts to a deeper relationship with our God, who is love. We can have a relationship with each of the Persons in the Trinity.

Certainly the God who made us can fill us with grateful love. All of creation can give glory to God for the wonders which surround us. As we reflect on the gift of life itself, we may be tempted to feel overwhelmed with life’s struggles. Today we can celebrate a merciful and faithful Father who never forgets that we are his gift of life for the world and for all eternity. Today is a great day to speak to our Father and Creator and to give thanks and praise. A step beyond acknowledging the relationship and giving thanks is to rest in and enjoy our Father’s embrace. There can be nothing more consoling and healing, however we want to imagine it and relish in it. This embrace allows us to surrender our doubts and fears, our small-scoped wants and needs, even our wounds, our judgments and our angers.

Jesus is God’s love who has become one with us in our journey in the flesh on this earth. We can unpack and enjoy that today. We simply are not able to say that God doesn’t understand what it is to be human. Being human, is one of the ways God is for us and with us. And, today we can celebrate the life, death and resurrection gift that Jesus continues to be for us. We can let ourselves long to know him better, to fall in love with our brother and saviour. And we can ask him for the grace to be like him in laying down our lives for others. Being with him will draw us into being more deeply in love with his way of loving those most in need and it will certainly offer us the deepening desire and freedom to love the same way.

Jesus promised that he would not leave us orphans. As we celebrated last weekend, the Father and the Son sent us the Holy Spirit to gather us in this Trinity of love. We all know that we can orphan ourselves, by clinging to independance and the illusion of “freedom” and identifying ourselves with what we accomplish and what we possess. The spirit which is evil loves to divide and scatter us. But the Holy Spirit offers gifts to heal our wounds and bring us a peace that world’s attractions can’t give. Today we can celebrate the work of the Spirit within us and among us. Sometimes, it is a small movement, a simple awareness, a conviction which troubles us, or an inner peace we can count on. We can let the Spirit speak the words, the feelings, the deep deisres we can’t get out and express. We can let the Spirit help us discern small and great choices we make each day – the choices identified by mercy and reconciliation, care for those on the margins, and a deep peace which acknowledges that God is the Father of us all and that Jesus is the Lord. We can let the Spirit transform us from mediocrity to being on fire, allowing our hearts to be part of the Spirit’s work of renewing the face of the earth.

Trinity Sunday can be a day of celebration, of intimate conversation with our three-personed God, who is love. It can be a day of gifts which bring us closer to our origin, our salvation and our life together in community for others.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity, fresco by Luca Rossetti da Orta
Holy Trinity, fresco by Luca Rossetti da Orta

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, or Trinity Sunday.

The fundamental dogma, on which everything in Christianity is based, is that of the Blessed Trinity in whose name all Christians are baptized. The feast of the Blessed Trinity needs to be understood and celebrated as a prolongation of the mysteries of Christ and as the solemn expression of our faith in this triune life of the Divine Persons, to which we have been given access by Baptism and by the Redemption won for us by Christ. Only in heaven shall we properly understand what it means, in union with Christ, to share as sons in the very life of God.

The dogma of faith which forms the object of the feast is this: There is one God and in this one God there are three Divine Persons; the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three Gods, but one, eternal, incomprehensible God! The Father is not more God than the Son, neither is the Son more God than the Holy Spirit. The Father is the first Divine Person; the Son is the second Divine Person, begotten from the nature of the Father from eternity; the Holy Spirit is the third Divine Person, proceeding from the Father and the Son. No mortal can fully fathom this sublime truth. But I submit humbly and say: Lord, I believe, help my weak faith.

The Father sent His Son to earth, for “God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son.” The Father called us to the faith. The Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, became man and died for us. He redeemed us and made us children of God. He ever remains the liturgist par excellence to whom we are united in all sacred functions. After Christ’s ascension the Holy Spirit, however, became our Teacher, our Leader, our Guide, our Consoler.

The feast of the Most Holy Trinity may well be regarded as the Church’s Te Deum of gratitude over all the blessings of the Christmas and Easter seasons; for this mystery is a synthesis of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. This feast, which falls on the first Sunday after Pentecost, should make us mindful that actually every Sunday is devoted to the honour of the Most Holy Trinity, that every Sunday is sanctified and consecrated to the triune God. Sunday after Sunday we should recall in a spirit of gratitude the gifts which the Blessed Trinity is bestowing upon us. The Father created and predestined us; on the first day of the week He began the work of creation. The Son redeemed us; Sunday is the “Day of the Lord,” the day of His resurrection. The Holy Spirit sanctified us, made us His temple; on Sunday the Holy Spirit descended upon the infant Church. Sunday, therefore, is the day of the Most Holy Trinity.

– Excerpted from  Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace

Note that today is also the Feast of the Visitation which is superseded by the Sunday liturgy.

Prayer of the day

God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in profession the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.