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6/5/2003
WORD OF FAITH
Gospel message of love
REV. ROGER KARBAN


Sunday’s Gospel from John contains one of Jesus’ most overlooked, yet most important scriptural statements (Jn 15: 26-27; 16: 12-15).

“I have much more to tell you,” He informs His disciples during the Last Supper, “but you cannot bear it now. When He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you in all truth.”

It’s far easier being a disciple of the historical Jesus than a disciple of the risen Jesus. If we follow the historical Jesus, we simply have to collect everything He said, codify and circulate His statements, then spend the rest of our lives trying to carry out what they teach.

But we, like our sacred authors, follow the risen Jesus, not the historical Jesus. The risen Jesus not only is alive among us, but also, as we discover in Christian Scriptures 101, He’s constantly opening doors and asking us to go down roads which didn’t even exist when He walked the earth. That’s what John’s Jesus is talking about when He tells His followers on the night before He dies that there’s still “much more” out there they have yet to learn.

Spirit’s role

If our next question is, “How do we find out the much more Jesus wants us to know?” the biblical answer is, “The Holy Spirit.”

“He will declare to you the things that are coming,” Jesus promises. “He will glorify me, because He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

This is why the Holy Spirit quickly became the most important force in early Christianity. Only the Spirit could size up what was going on in the community and let its members know how the risen Jesus expected them to react to the unique circumstances in which they are living.

Paul believes we can’t even proclaim “Jesus is God!” without the Spirit’s help (I Cor 12: 3-7, 12-13). But the Spirit’s influence doesn’t stop there. It not only molds us into the body of Christ, but also distributes the gifts which help that body function and grow. We can’t be the risen Christ’s body without the Spirit.

But then, going deeper into his reflection, Paul reminds his Corinthian community, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” He believes that, unless each person uses the gifts the Spirit’s given him or her, the community isn’t the complete body of Christ.

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” he writes, “whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”

Wind and fire

If the Spirit is essential for surfacing the risen Jesus’ mentality and forming us into the body of Christ, why is the Spirit the Trinity’s least utilized member? We find out by listening carefully to the first reading (Acts 2: 1-11).

Luke believes the Holy Spirit never enters our lives in a peaceful, secure way. Notice the three disturbing phenomena which accompany the Spirit’s arrival in the upper room on that first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection.

“Suddenly,” Luke reports, “there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.”

Noise, wind and fire are elements which normally are very destructive. Yet, in this case, they’re elements which accompany the arrival of the force that opens up the will of the risen Jesus for the community.

The Holy Spirit always has been a threat to those institutions and people in the Church that offer us peace, tranquility and complete certitude, those institutions and people guaranteeing that we already know everything Jesus wants us to do. What for them is simply a destructive disruption is, for the body of Christ, a sign of the Spirit’s presence.

(06-05-03)












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