Spirit of Filial Adoption and Prayer / Spirit of Mission and Charismatic Gifts

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Session 3 & 4 of "New Life in the Holy Spirit"

Talk 3: Spirit of Filial Adoption and Prayer

Talk 4: Spirit of Mission and Charismatic Gifts

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AI Summary: 






Our topic is the spirit of filial adoption and prayer, as the Sonship of Jesus is the
source and model of our filial adoption. And as Jesus' filial relationship with the Father
is best expressed by His prayer life, I shall first reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit
with regard to Jesus' Sonship and prayer. Then I shall deal with the same role of the
Holy Spirit in relation to our filial adoption and prayer life. The word adoption applies
to us only, for the Sonship of Jesus is not by adoption. He is a Son by birth, or the
natural Son of God. The first visible manifestation of the Holy
Spirit in the New Testament takes place during the baptism of Jesus at the river Jordan.
Just as Jesus was coming out of the water, He saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit
descending like a dove on Him. And a voice came from heaven, saying,
You are my Son, the Beloved. With you I am well pleased.
Mark 1, verses 10-11. The voice from heaven reveals Jesus as the
Beloved Son and the Servant of God. For the second part of the voice, with you I am well
pleased, is a reference to the first song of the servants of Yahweh in the book of
Isaiah. Together with the heavenly voice, the descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove
has to do with the revelation of Jesus' Sonship and mission, which He was going to accomplish
as the Servant of God. Mark begins his Gospel with the account of
the baptism of Jesus. But in order to avoid ambiguity that Jesus first became the Son
of God through the descent of the Spirit upon Him at the time of His baptism, Matthew and
Luke go further back to begin their Gospels with the events related to the birth and childhood
of Jesus. It is explicitly stated by both evangelists
that the Holy Spirit intervened at the birth of Jesus through the miraculous virginal conception
of Mary. The Holy Spirit empowered the Virgin Mary to conceive and bear a son. On account
of His birth through the power of the Spirit, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and
was Son of God right from the beginning of His life. And the Holy Spirit was the one
who guided Jesus in His filial relationship with the Father.
One of the essential features which we reflected upon during our opening talk is the Spirit's
characteristic as responsive love. He is called the bond of love between the Father and the
Son. From eternity, the Father generates the Son, communicating to Him His whole being and
life. Having received everything from the Father, the Son constantly returns to the
Father with gratitude and love. The Spirit is the one who inspires the Son in His return
movement towards the Father through a responsive love. But this eternal relationship between
the Father and the Son is hidden from us. The purpose of the Incarnation is to reveal
this intimate relationship to us and to enable us to share in the same relationship.
The Incarnation of the Son is, in a certain sense, the extension into the world and history
of the eternal dialogue between the Father and the Son. Just as the Spirit is the bond
of love in the immanent life of the Trinity, so also, after the Incarnation, it is the
same Spirit who inspires Jesus' filial dialogue with the Father.
It has been well said that a religious person is most truly himself in his private prayers.
Jesus' intimate relationship with the Father is best revealed through his prayer life.
The importance of prayer for Jesus becomes apparent both from his teaching on prayer
and from his own praying. Thus, for example, he showed his zeal for the Temple precisely
as a house of prayer. The disciples were encouraged to an astonishing boldness in prayer. They
were exalted to ask, seek, and knock with the countenance of children before their Father.
He urged them to have perseverance in prayer through parables. He taught the disciples
the Lord's Prayer. Since Jesus encouraged his disciples so emphatically to make use
of prayer, it can hardly be doubted that prayer was at the basis of his own relationship with
God. Particularly noteworthy is the consistent
emphasis that Jesus liked to get away to be alone in his prayer, either in the desert
or on a mountain away from the crowd, sometimes going off very early in the morning, sometimes
spending much of the whole of the night in solitary prayer. Jesus is also reported to
be in prolonged prayer, especially in times of stress and crisis or on occasions of great
movement and decision. The most distinctive feature of Jesus' prayer
is that he always addressed God as Father in his prayer. The only exception is the prayer
said by him when he was dying on the cross, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
But as commentators have pointed out, here Jesus was simply praying with the opening
verse of Psalm 22. Whenever he prayed in his own words, he constantly called God Father.
Jesus not only made use of the formal word Father, but he called God Abba. The word is
recorded to the most decisive moments of his life when he was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Abba, Father, for you all things are possible, remove this cup from me.
Yet, not what I want, but what you want. Mark 14, verse 36.
Jeremias, the German biblical scholar, made thorough research into the use of the word Abba.
Abba, which is an Aramaic word, the dialect of Jesus, is a familiar form of addressing
one's own father, like our daddy or papa. It is used by both children and adults.
Although the word Abba itself is recorded only once in the Gospels, namely in the prayer we have
just quoted, commentators agree that whenever we have parted the Greek word for Father appearing
in Jesus' prayer, the actual word on the lips of Jesus should have been this familiar Abba
in his mother tongue. It is an original and distinctive way of Jesus' prayer,
for no Jew during his time would dare to address God as my father in his prayer.
According to Jeremias, this distinctive way of Jesus' prayer reveals his consciousness of a
unique, intimate relationship with the Father. We have been talking about Jesus' prayer,
but what about the Spirit? In the prayer in Gethsemane, Mark does not tell us that Jesus
was inspired by the Spirit when he called God Abba. Fortunately, the word Abba appears in the
letters of Paul. Paul is encouraging the Christians in Rome and in Galatia to continue to address God
as Abba in their prayer. This was probably a practice originated in the Jewish community
of Jerusalem, following the example of Jesus himself. In both cases in which the word appears,
it is always related to the Holy Spirit. You have received a spirit of adoption in whom we cry
Abba Father. Romans 8 verse 15. Or, the proof that you are children,
God has sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba Father.
Galatians 4 verse 6. If it is the Spirit of the Son who enables us to say Abba, even for so,
it should have been the same Spirit who inspired Jesus, the author of this prayer, to address God
Abba Father. On one occasion, at least, Luke says explicitly that Jesus prayed to God the Father
under the inspiration of the Spirit. On the return of the Seventy from their mission,
Luke says, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.
After giving thanks to the Father, Jesus went on to give us the most profound revelation
found in the Synoptic Gospels. All things have been handed over to me by my Father,
and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Luke chapter 10 verses 21 to 22.
Here, Jesus discloses to us the exclusive reciprocal knowledge between him and the Father.
As we know that knowledge in the biblical sense is not limited to abstract intellectual knowledge,
rather, it implies the vital relationship of intimate communion between two persons.
Jesus was conscious of this unique relationship with the Father, and he made it known to us
through the Spirit, as Luke is introducing the whole passage in the name of the Spirit.
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said all these things.
After considering the Spirit and Jesus' spiritual relationship with the Father,
let us now reflect on our own adoption as children of God through the Spirit.
The purpose of Jesus revealing to us his intimacy with God is to introduce us into the same
relationship with the Father. So John tells us in the prologue of his Gospel that Christ has come
to reveal his Father to us, and that to all who received Jesus, who believed in his name,
he gave power to become children of God.
When John speaks of our being born of water and spirit to become children of God,
Paul uses the term adoption, which originally refers to a legal practice common among the
Greco-Romans of his time. While using the same term, Paul has deepened its significance.
For him, our adoption to be children of God does not only mean an external,
juridical relationship. Rather, it denotes an intimacy with the Father,
which implies a profound transformation in us.
In order to become children of God, we should receive the Spirit of adoption,
who establishes in us a new relationship with God and inspires in us our filial response to God.
As Paul writes,
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received
a spirit of adoption, in whom we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8.15.
The idea that the Spirit is the one who accomplishes our adoption is also clear
from the letter to the Galatians, in the important text which we have quoted earlier.
The proof that you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, Abba, Father.
Paul also indicates as condition for our adoption, our conformity to the filial image of Christ.
He says that God predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son,
in order that we might be the firstborn within a large family. Romans 8.29.
It is interesting to note that even if in this particular verse,
Paul does not mention the Spirit, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church commenting on this text
indicate the Spirit as the one who conforms us to the image of the Son.
They employ the biblical theme of putting on the seal. Thus, for Athanasius,
the Spirit is the seal which bears the image of Christ. Those who are sealed by it receive
the same imprint of Christ. But what does this conforming to the image of the Son mean?
Our configuration with Christ should be understood as conforming to
and sharing in his filial consciousness and inner disposition.
In the same letter to the Romans, Paul teaches that it is the Spirit of adoption
who attests to our spirit that we are children of God and at the same time
inspires us to cry, Abba, Father. Namely, to repeat the same prayer of Jesus towards his Father.
St. Jerome says that we would not even be able to say the Our Father
unless we have heard the Spirit crying Abba in the depths of our hearts.
The Spirit of adoption or the Spirit of his Son may be described as the Spirit
of the filial relationship of Jesus with the Father. To receive the Spirit of the Son
means to participate in the very Sonship of Jesus in relation to God.
Through imparting his Spirit into us, Jesus communicates to us his own experience
of intimacy with the Father during his life on earth.
When Thomas Merton says that the Spirit perfects the likeness to God in us by conforming us to Christ,
he has in mind especially of a new self-consciousness and a new orientation to God.
The Spirit enables us to know our true identity as children of God,
recreated in the likeness of the only Son.
This self-awareness of the Christian, says Merton, means a sharing in the orientation
which directs Christ entirely to his Father.
I believe that the essence of being Christian consists precisely in sharing in the intimate
relationship of Jesus with the Father, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit forms the humanity of Jesus,
conforming it to the eternal world, so that the life of Jesus may be a transfer into the world
and history of the eternal dialogue between the Father and the Son.
In a similar way, through our filial adoption, the Spirit accomplishes our configuration with Christ
by making us participate in his filial consciousness and attitudes, so that our Christian existence
may be a prolongation of the same dialogue of Jesus with the Father.
The Spirit introduces us into the return journey of the Son towards the Father,
in adoration, thanksgiving, trust, total adherence, and dedication.
As Ignatius of Antioch says, the Spirit, like living water, unceasingly murmurs to our hearts,
Come to the Father.
In his dialogue with the Samaritan woman, Jesus speaks about living water and true worship of God.
According to commentators, Delapateri in particular, the two themes are joined in one,
for the living water is precisely the water of the Spirit and of genuine worship.
In answering to the woman's question concerning the place of worship, Jesus relativizes the
importance of the external sight of God, which he considers as something secondary.
On the contrary, he focuses on the real meaning of Christian worship.
He says, but the hour is coming and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship
the Father in spirit and truth. John 4.23. This is probably one of the most discussed
texts in the whole New Testament. The difficulty is especially with the expression,
in spirit. Here, Jesus cannot be advocating a purely interior spiritual worship as opposed
to external worship, for the Gospel of John gives great importance to rituals and sacraments.
Nor is Jesus simply affirming the primacy of interior disposition in our worship.
If Jesus is here proposing a new worship for the Messianic time, then the expression,
in spirit, should mean something more than the primacy of interiority
in true worship, for this was always true even in the Old Covenant.
According to Delapateri, the statement that we should worship the Father in spirit and truth
must be taken as a Trinitarian formula. The great Fathers of the Church have already given
such interpretation to this text. According to them, the statement means to worship the Father
in the Holy Spirit and in the truth of Christ. Truth means the revelation brought by Christ.
The kernel of this revelation is precisely his intimate relationship with the Father,
which is to be shared with his followers. The verse immediately preceding the text and
the discussion is important. Jesus says to the woman, you worship what you do not know,
we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. Here, the word to know is essential.
Jesus is the truth which reveals God as the Father and himself as his loving Son.
Christian worship must be based on the knowledge of this basic truth.
But it is the special task of the Holy Spirit to lead us into this truth.
Remember the expression, in your light we see light? According to Saint Basil the Great,
it is in the light of the Holy Spirit that we see the true light of Christ.
Hence, the phrase to worship the Father in spirit and truth really means to worship the Father
in the Holy Spirit and in the truth which is Christ.
As spirit of adoption, he enables us to know, namely to experience God as loving Father
and ourselves as his beloved children. He introduces us into Jesus' video sentiment
and inspires us to pray with the same prayer of Jesus, calling God our Father.
This is the real meaning of worshipping the Father in spirit and truth.
The entire Christian existence must be a worship of the Father in spirit and truth.
Our whole Christian life should be an expression of a continuous worship of praise,
thanksgiving, total abandonment to the Father, and unselfish service to our neighbors.
The prayer of abandonment of Charles de Foucault, for example,
powerfully expresses the attitude of true worship which comprises one's entire life.
This prayer of abandonment reminds me of a story about a fire of a tall building.
A child was caught up on the top floor of the building.
It was impossible for the firemen to climb up for the rescue.
So they extended a huge safety net in the street below for the child to jump down.
But it was dark and it was impossible to see the safety net below.
People were shouting to the child to jump down before it was too late,
but the child was afraid to do so.
Finally, there came a powerful voice calling aloud,
Tom, don't be afraid. It's me. Jump down.
Is it really you, Dad?
With that, the child jumped and was saved.
This act of jumping in the dark is an expression of total abandonment to God, our Father,
which should embrace our whole lives.
However, the attitude of worshiping the Father in spirit and truth
should above all animate our Christian prayer.
Candela Mesa, a Franciscan Capuchin and official preacher of the Vatican,
speaks of the need of spiritualizing our prayer.
By this he means that, quote,
we act in such a way that in us it is ever more the Spirit and ever less we ourselves who pray,
that our prayer is ever less active and ever more passive,
ever less discursive and ever more contemplative,
till we reach, if God so wishes, the prayer of quiet,
in which we simply place our hearts next to the heart of Christ and cry with him, Abba, Father.
End quote.
Hence, to spiritualize our prayer means to let our prayer be guided by the Spirit,
or better, to let the Holy Spirit himself pray in us.
In a similar way, Merton, the great master of prayer, teaches that through baptism,
Christians are immersed into the Trinitarian life and have become a living prayer.
For this reason, the best way of prayer is to stop praying and let the prayer itself pray within us.
This requires from us a profound realization of our own true inner identity.
According to Merton, our relation with God is that of Christ with the Father in the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the best prayer is to let Jesus pray to his Father in the Holy Spirit in the silence
of our hearts. This is the deepest meaning of worshipping the Father in Spirit and truth.
End quote.
In a passage of the Letter to the Romans, Paul employs the word groaning three times. He says,
The whole creation has been groaning in labor pain until now. And not only the creation,
but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait
for the fulfillment of our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Then Paul continues,
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but that very Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans chapter 8, verses 22 to 26.
In this passage, Paul wants to say that it is the groaning of the Spirit too deep for words
that around the groaning in us and the whole creation.
Groaning is the expression of strong desire. Here it is a desire for being liberated from
corruption and decay, and for returning to God the origin and goal of all things.
This profound journey is inspired by the Spirit, who, as the responsive love of God,
is the vital dynamism which leads us and the entire universe in a return movement to the Father.
The groaning of the Spirit is the very essence or the soul of all prayer.
Carbart, the great Protestant theologian, has pointed out the similarity between
the unutterable groaning of the Spirit and the gift of praying in tongue.
To pray in tongue means to pray with sounds which are in themselves without meaning.
It is a prayer which transcends words and concepts by using wordless sounds to express
the inner sentiments of praise, thanksgiving, and petition. For this reason, it is a more
simplified and a deeper kind of prayer than the ordinary vocal prayer.
Praying in tongue somehow gives expression to the Spirit's groaning within us too deep for words.
At other times, the groaning of the Spirit may also be manifested through short invocations,
such as Abba, Father, or Maranatha, Lord, come, 1 Corinthians 16, verse 22.
Both invocations were used by the early Christian communities.
As has been shown, the invocation Abba, Father, is inspired by the Spirit. It is also true with
other invocations, as attested to by the Book of Revelation. The Spirit and the bride say,
Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation, chapter 22, verses 17 and 20.
In the letter to Prober, Augustine teaches us not to use too many words in prayer,
away with much use of words in prayer. For brevity is needed in order to preserve
fervent concentration in prayer. Saying much when we pray means doing a necessary thing
with superfluous words. What is important in prayer is the devout stirring of the heart.
According to Augustine, the task of praying is often carried on more by groaning than by speaking,
with more tears than words. He also tells us that the monks in Egypt are said to have offered
frequent prayers. Their prayers were very brief and in the style of quick ejaculations,
lest their vigilant, alert concentration might be weakened and blunted if too long drawn out.
The saying of Augustine about ejaculatory prayer reminds us of the two conferences
of John Cassian, in which he gives an account of Abba Isaac's teaching on prayer.
Abba Isaac was revealing to Cassian a secret of prayer handed down by the oldest of the Desert
Fathers. In order to cultivate continuous and fervent prayer throughout the day,
one needs a formula to keep it constantly before one's mind. So Abba Isaac says,
To keep the thought of God always in your mind, you must cling totally to this formula for piety.
Come to my help, O God. Lord, make haste to my rescue.
This short prayer repeated throughout the day, under all circumstances, is like a fiery arrow
piercing into heaven and setting our hearts on fire.
From the ancient practice of continuous repetition of short prayers,
it gradually developed the so-called Jesus Prayer, or Prayer of the Heart.
The Jesus Prayer is central to the Eastern Orthodox spirituality. In our own time,
it has become very much diffused also in the Western Church. By the way, a good number of
monks in this hermitage are also very much dedicated to the practice of this prayer.
The full formula of the Jesus Prayer says, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me a sinner. It may be shortened in different ways, such as, Lord Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me. Or simply, Lord Jesus, have mercy.
The scope and benefits of the Jesus Prayer are manifold. First, the constant repetition of the
prayer will concentrate, or become centered, as Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington would say,
during our prayer time. This is by no means an easy task. The function of the Jesus Prayer,
to use a Chinese saying, is to replace 10,000 words, 10,000 thoughts, with one single thought.
Secondly, the name of Jesus has sacramental power. It enables us to deepen our sense of the
Lord's presence in us, and to experience his healing and transforming power.
Thirdly, the expression, have mercy on me, nourishes in us the spirit of pantheos,
or compunction, so central to the spirituality of the Desert Fathers.
Finally, by dedicating each day some formal periods to reciting the Jesus Prayer,
the prayer will gradually take root in our hearts, and will eventually repeat itself
throughout the day. This should be the special aim of saying the Jesus Prayer.
Besides, in order to facilitate the practice of Jesus Prayer, as suggested by William Johnston,
one may also combine with some oriental meditation technique, such as posture and breathing rhythm.
The idea is that the whole person, mind and body, should be involved in prayer and meditation.
In point of fact, there is a certain similarity between the Jesus Prayer and the Pure Land
Buddhist meditation, which consists in a constant repetition of the invocation of Buddha.
But some of you may ask, what is the connection between the Jesus Prayer and the Holy Spirit,
which is our topic today? Well, the connection is only too clear. Paul states emphatically,
no one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12.3.
Therefore, any invocation of the Lord Jesus can only be uttered under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit. The groaning of the spirit too deep for words may take different forms of
expression. It may manifest itself through praying in tongue. It may take the form of
short invocations, such as Abba Father, Maranatha, or the Jesus Prayer. At times,
it may also introduce us into a kind of more silent, wordless prayer. I am suggesting the
prayer of breathing. By adopting some oriental technique of meditation, we may practice a kind
of Christian meditation simply through breathing. Sitting quietly in the posture of the lotus,
or otherwise, keeping our back straight, we breathe deeply from our abdomen,
all the time, while concentrating on our breathing. Instead of counting the breathing,
as one normally does when practicing Zen meditation, we just pay attention to our breathing
with the awareness of its sacramental function. With the inhaling of breath,
we are letting in the Holy Spirit, the life-giving breath, into our whole being.
And when breathing out, we are letting out our inward groaning, united to that of the universe,
and being inspired by the very groaning of the Spirit, too deep for words.
It does not mean that we are identifying the air or our breath with the Holy Spirit,
but just as water can become a sacramental element for the presence of the Holy Spirit
and His saving grace, in an analogous manner, we may also make use of our breathing
as a quasi-sacrament for the life-giving breath of the Spirit.
After all, the reason Jesus himself made use of the gesture of breathing to impart
the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the day of his resurrection. After greeting the disciples,
Jesus breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.
And so, under the sign of Jonah, namely, from the belly or the tandem of creation,
the risen Jesus unceasingly breathed the life-giving breath into us and the entire universe,
introducing us and the whole creation into his return movement to the Father,
with groaning too deep for words.
Good morning to all of you, and we are going to present the last talk of our retreat.
The Spirit of Mission and Charisms.
At the baptism of Jesus, the descent of the Spirit, together with the voice from heaven,
revealed Jesus to be the Son and Servant of God, entrusted with a special mission by the Father.
This mission, as will be seen, was accomplished in the power of the Spirit.
For this reason, the Holy Spirit is Spirit of the mission, as well as of the Sonship of Jesus.
Just as the baptism marked the beginning of Jesus' public ministry,
so later, the Pentecost will inaugurate the mission of the Church.
The Spirit is the one who guides and assists the missionary activities of the Apostolic Church
with an outpouring of charismatic gifts.
This talk will first consider Jesus' ministry in the power of the Spirit,
then it will deal with the Spirit and the mission of the Church,
and finally, a reflection on the charisms or charismatic gifts of the Spirit will be made.
We often think that the baptism of Jesus has significance for us only,
to set an example of repentance for us, and to sanctify the water for the future sacraments of
baptism. But in reality, it has important significance above all for Jesus himself.
It is a decisive moment of the Spirit's intervention on Jesus. It is true that Jesus
was filled with the Spirit right from the first moment of his earthly existence. But it is equally
true that this boldness could increase together with the growth of Jesus. He is truly God, truly
human, and followed the human law of growth and gradual development. In the life of Jesus,
there were various privileged moments, the so-called Tyrone, for receiving anew the gift
of the Spirit. Baptism was one of these moments. The title Christ actually means anointed.
The baptism of Jesus is interpreted by Peter as the moment of his anointing by God
with the Holy Spirit and with power. Acts 10.38.
During the baptism, the voice from heaven declares,
This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.
This statement is an adaptation from the first servant's song in the book of Isaiah,
where it says, Behold my servant, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. Isaiah 42.1.
The voice indicates the mission of Jesus to be the prophetic mission of the servant of God,
on whom the Spirit reposes, and to whom is entrusted with the teaching of all nations.
At the moment of baptism, Jesus became aware of being the servant of the Lord,
entrusted with the prophetic mission. This can be seen from his opening discourse in the synagogue
of Nazareth, where Jesus, applying another text from Isaiah, declares that he was anointed and
sent by God to announce the good news to the poor, to restore sight to the blind,
and to bring liberation to people under various kinds of oppression. Luke 4.18-19.
His mission is that of preaching the kingdom of God by deeds as well as by words.
Now, by joining the image of the Son to that of the servant, the heavenly voice also indicates
the close connection between Jesus' Sonship and mission. He must live out his Sonship,
especially by fulfilling the mission entrusted to him by the Father.
The fulfillment of the mission is the concrete way of living his own Sonship.
Anointed by the Spirit, Jesus carried out his mission in the power of the same Spirit.
During the public ministry, as we have seen, Jesus was continuously turned towards the Father,
through intimate prayer. But at the same time, he was also constantly
conscious of being led by the Spirit in the fulfillment of his mission.
In this sense, one may say that Jesus was a charismatic person.
According to the testimony of John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and
remained on him. After the baptism, Jesus was filled with the Spirit and was led by the Spirit
into the desert for the immediate preparation for his public mission.
Again, it was in the power of the Spirit, as Luke tells us, that Jesus returned to Galilee
to commence his teaching ministry, which he carried out with authority.
Later, while he was casting out demons, Jesus was aware of acting by the finger of God,
Luke 11.20, or more explicitly, by the Spirit of God, as Matthew puts it, Matthew 12.28.
For this reason, he considered a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit,
the fact that the Jews should accuse him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub.
Practically, these people were attributing to Satan the working of the Holy Spirit.
And finally, a summary statement describing the ministry of Jesus in the power of the Spirit
right from the moment of his baptism can be found in the discourse of Peter, which we have referred
to. Peter says, that message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John announced, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power,
how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
Acts 10.37-38.
If the Spirit who came upon Jesus during the baptism manifested himself as the Spirit of
prophetic mission, his descent upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost revealed the same character
of his. Just as the baptism signaled the moment of the anointing of Jesus at the beginning of his
public ministry, so also Pentecost had a similar significance for the mission of the Church.
In the promise made by Jesus, the Spirit was described as a prophetic power of testimony
and of preaching. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1.18.
In point of fact, this prophetic power actually took the form of tongues of fire
and moved the apostles to proclaim in languages the mighty deeds of God on the day of Pentecost.
It is true that great commission is represented in the context of the appearance of the risen Christ
to the apostles before the ascension, when Jesus ordered them to go and make disciples of all
nations. However, while the sense of mission is already derived from the encounter with the risen
Lord, the power to accomplish the mission comes from the Holy Spirit. John has actually joined
these two aspects in his account of the first appearance of the risen Christ to the apostles
gathered together in the evening of Easter Sunday.
Jesus said to them, as the Father has sent me, even so I sent you.
Then Jesus breathed on the faces of the apostles, saying, receive the Holy Spirit.
John 20.21-22.
It is clear that the Spirit is bestowed on the disciples for the sake of their mission.
If the Synoptic Gospels describe the public ministry of Jesus
as a ministry in the power of the Spirit, the Acts are like a gospel of the Spirit,
which narrates the missionary activities of the apostles in the power of the same Spirit.
The Holy Spirit bestowed on the apostolic church an outpouring of charismatic gifts of service,
such as tongues, prophecy, cures and exorcisms, preaching, works of mercy, and others.
The Spirit especially confirmed the apostolic preaching with signs and wonders.
He empowered Peter and the other apostles to confront boldly the same powers which crucified
Jesus. The Spirit guided the expansion of the church outside Jerusalem as a consequence of
persecutions which took place in that city. He also presided over the Gentile mission by setting
aside Paul and Barnabas and sending them on missionary journeys to Asia Minor. He further
confirmed the whole of Paul's ministry with abundant signs of healing and deliverance.
Thus, the ministry and missionary activities of the apostles
were essentially carried out in the power of the Spirit.
As the bond of love between the Father and the Son,
the Spirit is also the bond of any personal relationship between God and humanity.
As the title of the well-known book written by John Taylor indicates, the Holy Spirit is
the go-between God. In the Spirit, God becomes a God for humankind.
And in the same Spirit, humanity is able to respond to God's offer of himself.
The Spirit is at once the outflowing of God into the world and the latter's entry into God.
The Spirit is the dynamic force moving from one to many, diffusing the life and love of God
to all humans and to the whole universe. At the same time, He is also the unifying force
bringing the entire creation back to its source and origin, the Father.
As Vatican II teaches through its various documents,
the Church, under the impulse of the Spirit, is by her very nature a missionary church.
Likewise, each baptized Christian shares in the mission of the Church,
imbued with the Spirit of Christ. Christian existence has an essentially missionary character.
For Carbart, the scope of Christian life is not so much to achieve personal salvation
as to bear witness. In fact, our personal salvation will not be obtained without a
missionary drive to spread and share the same salvation of Christ with our fellow human beings.
First of all, Christians must bear witness to Christ in their own lives. Conforming our lives
to that of Christ is the best way to expand His saving presence in the world.
Our prophetic mission is to be carried out also through proclaiming the Word of God.
As blessed, the Spirit is inseparably united to the world. The Spirit did not offer words to Jesus,
but conferred authority and power on them. The prophetic role of the Spirit is in function of
the words of Jesus. The Spirit is called Spirit of Truth because He leads the disciples into the
fullness of truth by reminding them of the words of Jesus and making them understand what He has spoken.
In the proclamation of the Gospel, the Spirit works from both directions.
He inspires those who proclaim the Word to announce the Good News with efficacy,
and at the same time, He disposes the listeners with inner illumination to believe in Jesus the Lord.
The mission of the Church is identified with evangelization or preaching the Good News of Christ.
But it is necessary to have a wider view of evangelization. Together with preaching the
Gospel of Jesus Christ according to the official teaching of the Church, evangelization includes
as its integral elements dialogue with other religions and participation at the construction
and transformation of the secular world.
The Vatican Council affirms the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the world outside
the visible confines of the Church. To all human beings of goodwill, the Holy Spirit,
in a way known to God, gives the possibility of coming into contact with the paschal mystery of
Christ and enables them to come to salvation. This holds true especially for the followers
of the great religions of the world. Dialogue with other religions should be mutually enriching.
In making dialogue with other faiths, one not only comes to know the wisdom of other religious
traditions, but also deepens the understanding of one's own faith. By dialoguing and confronting
with one another, one comes to a deeper understanding of one's own faith.
In our dialogue with other religions, it is important to maintain the two fundamental
tenets of Christian faith, namely, first, God truly wishes to save all people, and secondly,
Jesus Christ is the mediator of salvation for all humankind. These two tenets can be found in a text
in the letter of Paul, 1 Timothy 2, verses 4-6.
To explain the universal saving significance of Jesus Christ for the world, theologians like
Caruana propose theories of the so-called anonymous Christians, or the unknown hidden presence of
Christ in other religions. This means that believers of other religions can achieve salvation
if they are sincere in following their own conscience,
and their religions have positive meaning for their salvation. For in reality, according to
these theologians, they are also under the saving influence of Christ even without knowing it.
This universal saving significance of Christ can be better explained through the universal presence
of the Spirit of Christ. In his encyclical Letter on the Holy Spirit, Dominum et Vivificandem, Pope
John Paul II, reaffirming the teaching of Vatican II, invites us to contemplate the universal action
of the Holy Spirit in the world, both before the coming of Christ, and even today, outside
the visible body or the visible confines of the Church.
For the Spirit is like the wind, it blows where it wills.
The influence of the Holy Spirit in the world is not limited to the religious initiatives of human
persons. Vatican II, in its pastoral constitution of the Church in modern world, repeatedly refers
to the action of the Spirit present in the cultures and aspirations of peoples, and in different fields
of human activities. In like manner, the Synod of Bishops of 1971, recognizing the presence of the
Spirit in the efforts of human persons to promote authentic human values, and in their aspiration
for universal brotherhood, declared that action for the cause of justice and participation in
the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the announcing
of the Gospel. Synod of Bishops of 1971. In fact, anointed by the Spirit, Jesus was sent to preach
the good news to the poor, and to bring about liberation to people under different kinds of
oppression. His mission was to establish the Kingdom of God in worlds and in liberating actions.
With the person and ministry of Jesus, this Kingdom is already present on earth,
and will reach its final fulfillment at the second coming of the Lord.
There will be continuity, as well as novelty, between the present world and the definitive Kingdom.
For this reason, the same pastoral constitution of Vatican II teaches that expectation of a new earth
must not weaken, but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one.
For the transformation of the present world is a kind of foreshadowing of the new age,
or a prefiguration of the future Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the creative breath
that inspires the process of transformation of the world. As an inner dynamism, the Spirit,
with signs too deep for words, arouses in the hearts of humans and in the entire creation
an unsuppressible groaning, and urges them to break down any kind of enslavement,
marching towards the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Apart from proclamation of the Gospel, dialogue with other religions, and participation in
constructing a better world, the Church also has the important task of building up Christian
communities through preaching, administering sacraments, conducting worship, strengthening
the bond of unity, and promoting mutual service among her members.
In order to assist the Church to fulfill her mission in building up Christian communities,
in announcing the Gospel, and in spreading the Kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit bestowed
abundant charisms, or charismatic gifts, to the early Church. The acts of the apostles,
as has been shown, offer evident testimony to the presence of the manifold charisms.
In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul also dedicated a lengthy section
to deal with questions regarding special gifts of the Spirit,
which were causing some confusion and concern in that community.
Both the Acts and the Pauline letters give us the impression that charisms were normal phenomena
in the early Church. Unfortunately, the situation in the Church changed. After some generations,
the charisms of the early Church seemed to have gradually disappeared, so that in the 5th century
we find St. Augustine suggesting the idea that the charisms were intended only for the first
generation of believers. Up to the time of Vatican II, it was customary to believe that charisms of
the Spirit were reserved for special saints and extraordinary persons in the history of the Church.
Thanks to the charismatic movement started by the Pentecostals in the middle of the century,
and soon followed by the Catholics, there has been a revival of interest in the charisms
in Christian churches. Vatican II has contributed, so to speak, to popularize the idea of the
charism. During the Council, as we know, there was a heated discussion between two cardinals.
While Cardinal Ruffini considered charisms to be rare and extraordinary gifts,
and hence reserved to a few, Cardinal Sunan believed it possible to distinguish
between the most outstanding charismatic gifts and the more simple and widely diffused ones.
He also held that charismatic gifts are indispensable for the life of the Church.
The Council has adopted the view of Cardinal Sunan in its dogmatic constitution on the Church,
which states,
Allotting his gifts to everyone according as he will,
the Holy Spirit distributes special gifts among the faithful of every rank.
By these gifts he makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks or offices
advantageous for the renewal and up-building of the Church.
The document adds that these charismatic gifts
are exceedingly suitable and useful for the needs of the Church.
So, we should thank Vatican II for this effort of popularizing the idea of charism or charismatic
gifts, which is not something reserved to a very limited number of saints or extraordinary persons
in the Church, but it is a gift given to faithful of every rank and is indispensable
for the service of the Church.
In dealing with charismatic gifts, it is extremely important not to separate the gifts from the giver,
the Holy Spirit. If we should focus our attention on the gifts while neglecting the Holy Spirit,
we are simply turning the gifts into independent objects which we believe to possess.
But in reality, it is not we who possess the gifts,
rather it is the Spirit who takes possession of us and operates in us with his gifts.
Paul rightly calls charisms the manifestations of the Spirit given to each one for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12.7
It means that the gifts are the manifestations of the power
of the Spirit who is present and at work in the individual faithful.
The relationship between the Spirit and the gifts may be likened to that between the sun
and the sun rays, which are continuously coming forth from the sun and are inseparable from it.
We should also say that the Holy Spirit is the most fundamental gift.
He is called love and gift in tradition. Besides the title bond of love, Augustine also designates
the Spirit as the mutual gift of the Father and the Son, as well as their gift to the world.
In the New Testament, the Spirit is often joined to the ideas of love and giving. Thus, for example,
Paul states in the Romans, God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
that has been given to us. John states in his first letter,
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us his Spirit.
1 John 4.13
In his discourse on the day of Pentecost, Peter indicates the effects of baptism
as to receive forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The gift of the Holy Spirit means the gift which is the Holy Spirit himself.
Concluding his exhortation to pray with persevering faith, Jesus says,
If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?
Luke 11.13
Jesus is here, pointing out that the Holy Spirit is the good gift of the Father par excellence.
In some ancient texts of the Lord's Prayer, as recorded by Luke,
instead of the phrase, Your kingdom come,
we find the expression, Your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.
All this is to indicate that the Holy Spirit is the gift of God in person,
while the charismatic gifts are but the different manifestations
of this one fundamental gift of God.
In the classical text in which Paul deals with the charisms,
he teaches that the variety of gifts is distributed by the same Spirit
for the common good, namely for building up the Church.
All the charismatic gifts mentioned by Paul
are intended for serving and building up the community.
They may be classified into three groups.
There are the gifts of action, such as faith, healing, and working of miracles.
They are obviously given for the purpose of service,
to seek the spiritual and bodily well-being of our neighbors.
Then, there are the gifts of speech, such as prophecy,
speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
The gift of prophecy does not mean primarily for telling things of the future,
rather it means to pronounce a message of God to the assembly,
or to speak words of encouragement and upbuilding for others.
The gift of tongue, glossolalia,
is to speak not in a foreign language as is commonly supposed,
but to utter language-like sounds without vocabulary, grammar, or syntax.
It cannot be understood by others.
For this reason, Paul ranks it below the gift of prophecy
and insists that speaking in tongues would not be profitable to the community
unless there is also the gift of interpretation to translate the message of God.
Even the gifts of knowledge, the third group, such as wisdom, knowledge, and discernment,
are for the purpose of serving the community.
Paul actually calls the gifts of wisdom and of knowledge
utterance of wisdom and utterance of knowledge.
This means that they are also related to speech,
these gifts not only enable people to penetrate into the mysteries of God,
perceiving his serific plan regarding individuals as well as the entire world,
they also assist them to explain to others with clarity and efficacy.
And finally, it is clear that the gift of discernment of spirits
is important for all the other gifts as it offers a guide and criterion for judging their authenticity.
This list of the charismatic gifts, the nine charismatic gifts, is not meant to be exhaustive.
For soon after, Paul also includes as charisms various ministries and offices in the church,
such as the ministry of the apostles, prophets, and teachers,
and also forms of assistance and of leadership.
We may probably add to the list of charisms,
such as speaking on behalf of the poor and the oppressed, concern for safeguarding human dignity,
courage in fighting for human rights, and working for peace and social justice.
This can be considered as gifts of prophecy, both in speech and in action.
Each Christian is endowed with one or more charismatic gifts from the Spirit.
The gifts will grow or develop through their exercise.
They are meant first of all for serving and building up the community,
both that of the church and of the world.
However, through serving others, the gifts also contribute to the personal growth of the individuals themselves.
For the Christians, service and personal holiness are closely related and grow hand-in-hand with each other.
So, gifts are given mainly for service, but through service, one grows in personal holiness.
Both as a correction for the Christians at Corinth and as a climax to his teaching on charisms,
Paul invites them to strive for the greater gifts
while pointing out love as a still more excellent way.
Paul indicates love as the soul of all charismatic gifts.
Without love, charisms such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, and faith
are but empty shows, which will be profitable neither to the individual nor to others.
For this reason, Paul encourages them to pursue love as well as to strive for spiritual gifts.
If to each is given some special gift of the Spirit for the common good, love is indispensable to all.
The community born on the day of Pentecost was endowed with various charismatic gifts.
The most outstanding among these gifts was love, which united the faithful in one heart and one soul,
thus offering the most distinctive sign of the community born of the Holy Spirit.
In the last two talks of our retreat, we have reflected on the special role of the Holy Spirit
as a spirit of filial adoption and of mission. As a spirit of adoption,
he introduces us to Jesus' own intimate relationship with the Father. He also inspires
us to respond according to this relationship, especially through a vital prayer life.
As a spirit of mission, he urges us to share in the mission of Jesus and of the Church.
With special charismatic gifts, he assists us to serve our neighbors and to spread the kingdom
of God in various ways. As Paul says, to each one is given a special manifestation of the Spirit
for the common good. So, each of us must ask himself which particular gift or gifts have
been given to him so that he may make the best use of them for the service of the brothers and sisters.
But it often happens that the gifts which we have received at the baptism remain dormant and
inactive in us because of not being made use of. For this reason, we must pray earnestly to the
Holy Spirit to reawaken, to activate the gifts given us during baptism so that we may make use
of them for building up the community and for spreading the kingdom of God.
I would like to conclude with a prayer.
God our Father, we praise you, we thank you for having created us in your own image
and according to your likeness. We thank you for having given us a share of your own Spirit
to enable us to lead the life in the Spirit.
Your Spirit is a life-giving breath, illuminating light, and is your own love
becoming our responsive love.
We pray that the Spirit may deepen in us the sense of our filial adoption
and inspire us to call you Abba, Father, together with Jesus.
We also pray that the Spirit may deepen our sense of mission
and help us to make use of the special gifts given by him to serve our brothers and sisters
for the benefit of the community.
Through Christ our Lord.