When we love Jesus, we submit to his commandments. It is, Chrysostom reminds us, easy to say these things, but we need to act upon his words – hence Jesus says that if we really love him will will follow him, and we will love one another, and do to each other as he does to us. Our obedience is an expression of love, and paints a portrait of love in our lives which displays the beauty of what God has created (St Cyril of Alexandria). There is no love without the Holy Spirit, so the disciples already had the Spirit, but not the fulness as Jesus promises here (Augustine). Jesus continues, Bede comments, to petition the Father for the Spirit to dwell in their hearts – and in ours. He promises them the Spirit because he is now about to leave them and knows they will need the comfort and strength which the Spirit will bring them. (St Gregory Nazianzus). He refers to the Spirit as the Comforter so that no one can confuse Him with the Son (Ambrose). Jesus himself intercedes, hence Him saying that the Paraclete is ‘another intercessor’. The Spirit is God, and as the consubstantial third person of the Trinity (Augustine) completes the work of the Father and the Son (Athanasius). Truth is a characteristic of the Spirit and he reveals the Truth of the one who sent Him (St Basil). The sinful world caught up in the worship of its own image cannot receive the Spirit of Truth, but the followers of Christ can and he reveals all truth to them (Augustine).
If we say we love God and do not keep his cpommandments then we lie (1 John 4:20). If we love him we keep our self-will in check (Gregory the Great). God will not dwell in the midst of the filth of sin, so we must prepare our hearts to be a fit and proper place for his dwelling (St Cyril). When the Spirit resides in us, we are united with God, and what the Spirit testifies to is what God says to us – there is no separation between Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Gregory the Great).
Leo the Great tells us that Jesus withdraws his bodily presence for a while to abide at the right hand of the Father until the time when he will come again to judge the living and the dead. Until then, what was visible in Christ is now veiled in mystery, and so that faith might be more perfect and steadfast, vision was succeeded by revealed truth whose authority the hearts of the faithful, illuminated by light from above would now begin to follow.
Chrysostom says that, knowing they would be desolate and sad, Christ promises them the Comforter, so they will will know that there will be some good coming as he leaves this world for now. Gregory the Great reminds his readers that the Greek ‘paraclete’ means advocate or counsellor in Latin. he is an advocate because he intervenes with the Father on our behalf – as Paul testifies in Romans (8:26). He consoles because he offers the hope of pardon for our sins.
Wonderful, thank you C.
When I was much younger, I read a book called “The Cloud of Unknowing” which put my mind into a spin. The author (unknown) found those who sought the consolations of God rather than the God of Consolation anathema to his way of thinking.
Thanks be to God for sending us His Holy Spirit and all His gifts and fruits.
I found this homily of Facebook this morning which takes in both Pentecost and Fatima x
FR BRENDAN PURCELL’S HOMILY FOR PENTACOST SUNDAY
Last Friday, May 13th, was the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, which got me thinking of the prayer that the three little children were taught by Mary to say, and which we often add on at the end of each decade: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, and save us from the fires of hell, especially those with most need of thy mercy.’ The first two parts of that little prayer, ‘O my Jesus’ and ‘forgive our sins’ are worth thinking about on this feast of the Holy Spirit or Pentecost.
St Paul in our second reading tells us that ‘No one can say “Jesus is Lord” unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.’ So let’s see how the Holy Spirit may have inspired the first three words of the prayer, ‘O my Jesus.’
It’s not a way of addressing the Lord that we find in the Gospel. You could ask, how could it be? Who dares to speak to the one St Paul calls the ‘Lord of glory’ in such a familiar way? Who’d presume to be on first-name terms with the one St Athanasius calls ‘saviour of the universe’?
In fact, in the Gospels, not a single one of our Lord’s closest followers addresses him directly by name. Most often, they call him Kyrios: ‘sir’ or ‘Lord’. Peter, for example, uses ‘Lord’ all the time, whether crying out in panic when he thinks he’s sinking, to pledging his everlasting love. Even when actually arguing with Jesus, ‘God forbid it, Lord!’ he’s still careful to use that respectful title.
The disciples and others use titles like rabbi, rabbouni, or teacher. The devils, showing their spiritual insight into who he is and why he’s come, address him as ‘Jesus of Nazareth…the Holy One of God.’ And strangers, humbly begging Jesus to have mercy on them, like the ten lepers, beg him, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ So that if they address him as Jesus, they add a more formal title just after that. But there’s nothing like that in the Fátima prayer: just ‘O my Jesus.’ Peter and the disciples, Mary Magdalene, the desperately hoping for a personal cure, even the demons… no one is so bold as to speak so informally with ‘my Lord and my God.’ So how then can we?
At the end of Luke’s gospel, the God-man himself, scourged and humiliated, hangs dying on two rough planks of word. He hears respectful titles, but now they’re used as terms of abuse and contempt. His claims to be the Saviour, indeed ‘the Christ, the chosen one of God’ are turned against him in mockery. Over his head, a sign sarcastically declares he’s ‘the king of the Jews’.
It’s only now, the only time in all of the Gospels, that the Messiah is addressed by just his first name: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ These words, of course, are said by the repentant thief. They’re spoken out of true humility. The one who says them admits his own guilt, and considers himself as fairly condemned. He’s beyond hope of being let off. Given the chance to ask Christ for anything at all, he doesn’t ask to be rescued or redeemed, just to be remembered.
But the one that miserable criminal speaks to, the one whom he believes will soon ‘come into his kingdom,’ is a condemned criminal like himself. Jesus is indeed the ‘Christ, the chosen one of God,’ he’s ‘the king of the Jews.’ He’s these things so that he can be spoken to as a social equal by miserable, condemned, sinner. The two men – one executed, the other murdered – hang side-by-side as social equals.
Of course this is the point of the Incarnation: God himself comes to hang beside us, St Irenaeus says, as a ‘man among men.’ Sharing in our miserable condition, he’s the only one who we might actually dare to ask for mercy from. And this is one way of seeing the message Mary taught those three illiterate shepherd children of Fátima: that while all of us are in dire need of mercy, we’re on first-name terms with the one we have to call on. Of course there was at least one other person in the Gospel who’d have addressed him as ‘O my Jesus.’ Mary was teaching Lúcia, Jacinta and Francisco to speak to her Son with the same words she used. Of course, as Spouse of the Holy Spirit, she did so, as St Paul said, inspired by the Spirit, and wants all her children to speak to him with her own loving words.
Forgive us our sins: This second phrase is also a phrase to think of at Pentecost. When Jesus breathes on the Apostles, we’re being reminded of the account of creation in the Book of Genesis: ‘The Lord formed man out of the clay of the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils.’ Now he’s giving them the breath of God in a new and greater way, the breath of his love and forgiveness. In our world that’s full of the toxic gas of corruption that’s always threatening to suffocate us, if we invoke his Son in love, ‘O my Jesus,’ he’ll send his the Spirit, the gift of his complete forgiveness that re-creates us again: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ It’s already clear from the Gospels that only God can forgive sin, but now he gives that same power of infinitely merciful love he showed to the Good Thief on the Cross to his Apostles and through them to every priest: ‘whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven…’
Let’s never get tired of saying those few beautiful words Mary, full of the Holy Spirit, inspired those three little children of Fatima to say: ‘O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, and save us from the fires of hell, especially those with most need of thy mercy.’
FR BRENDAN PURCELL’S HOMILY FOR PENTACOST SUNDAY
Pentecost Sunday, St Columbkille’s, Woolloomooloo, 15/5/16
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Bosco the Great said:
When we love Jesus, we submit to his commandments.
Call no man on this earth father.
When you come to an understanding of what Jesus meant, you will see he was not saying don’t call your male parent father.
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