How are we to think of the Holy Spirit who comes from God the Father and Son to help us share in divine life? Jesus definitely told us that the Spirit of God was coming. What did he mean? I like the image on the great stained-glass window in St Peter’s in Rome. The Spirit is depicted as a fluttering dove which comes mysteriously out from a background of splendid light and brightness. That image helps me to think about the mystery of God the eternal Creator as a marvellous source of Light; God is the origin of all that exists and God wants to share that life and light with us. In God’s divine light we now can see more clearly what is good and bad in our world, we can see the difference between right and wrong and we are given the strength to do better. We can encourage those who have done wrong to seek forgiveness.
As Jesus said to the apostles in the gospel, “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven”. He wants the Church to be a sign and instrument of forgiveness. The Holy Spirit comes from God the Father and God the Son to enable us to get rid of all sinful actions or habits that keep us away from God. We need to be forgiven to be at peace with God and our neighbour because there is something within us that makes us turn away from God and behave in an unacceptable way. It may be because we want the wrong things or that we go about getting our own way no matter what the cost to others. Here are a few examples.
A county football player writing in the newspaper after a recent game described in detail all the fouling and unsporting behaviour that went on behind the referee’s back. Somebody said you could feel the hatred and see it in the players’ faces. Anything was acceptable as long as your team got an advantage. Shouting in their faces, tripping them up, pulling their jerseys, generally treating them with contempt.
You were asking your own players to push themselves beyond exhaustion and the best motivation is hatred of the other team. At the feast of Pentecost we are told that such attitudes are all wrong. The game degenerates when you tell yourself to hate somebody else.
Look at what is happening in Palestine. Hatred of the enemy is used to justify actions which are inhumane. We can learn from that tragedy to plan for the future of our own country. Many keep saying that only violence brings progress. In fact it only brings more heartache. I remember talking to a man who had been a hero during the world war. War was justified as a last resort but his experience of what happened had altered his views forever. The demons pursued him for years. For him the Christian message is actually the most sensible. Before falling into the hell of war every effort must be made to follow the rule of law. Wise people should use their ingenuity to get wrongdoers to face up to their guilt and realise the great blessing of God’s forgiveness. To achieve justice it is best to accept the direction of the Holy Spirit. Make your own the Pentecost hymn which tells us what God’s Spirit does to drive away ‘the deadly foe’ of hatred. The Holy Spirit takes possession of souls, guides minds, inflames with love, makes us strong. It is good to ask the Spirit to come into our hearts.
Come Holy Ghost Creator come, from thy bright heavenly throne
Come take possession of our souls and make them all thy own.
O guide our minds with thy blessed light, with love our hearts inflame
And with thy strength which ne’er decays confirm our mortal frame.
Far from us drive our deadly foe, true peace unto us bring
And through all perils lead us safe beneath they sacred wing.
The Spirit of God, the gift of God’s love comes into our minds and hearts and helps to be honest, be strong, do good and hope for new beginning. Our hope is not imaginary because Jesus promised to send the Spirit of truth and forgiveness into hearts and minds if only people would ask.