The Holy Spirit, The Comforter (II)

Thus from the heart as from the greatest altar of the Holy Spirit a life giving stream flows through the man in his whole body and spirit. From this it results the fact that the body of the believer will become a weapon for his spirit and his spirit a weapon for the Holy Spirit. The whole man will be cleansed, enlightened, strengthened and made immortal by these streams of the Spirit so that all his thoughts, all his love and work will be directed towards the eternal life. The stream of his life will flow in eternity and that of eternity will flow into his life. But at the time when our Lord Jesus Christ said this ` the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.` Meaning that the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to the believers although He was with Jesus. The Holy Spirit had not yet begun His work in the world in all His plenitude and all His might since Lord Jesus had not yet been: His sacrifice for mankind had not yet ended, nor His work as a Savior of mankind.
In the orderliness of salvation of the man, the Father is a plenary worker in the world when He sends His Son for the salvation of men. The Son is a plenary worker in fulfilling the salvation as Man-God and the Holy Spirit is a plenary worker in founding, sanctifying and continuing the work of the Son. But this doesn’t mean that while the Father is operative, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not; that while the Son is operative the Father and the Holy Spirit are not; and that while the Holy Spirit is operative the Father and the Son are not. When the Son was in the whole plenitude of His work on earth, the Father and the Holy Spirit were co workers with Him as it is seen at the Baptism from the water of Jordan and as the Lord said it Himself: ` My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.` (John 5:17). The Father and the Son work together and in the same time. The Holy Spirit does the same as it is shown in the promise of Lord Jesus that He will send the Spirit, the Comforter of His disciples and that He will remain with them ` I am with you each and every day, to the end of the age.`The triune God is of one inseparable essence but in relation with the created world God accomplishes His work sometimes more significantly through one of His hypostasis and other times through another. Thus when Lord Jesus promised the descent of the Holy Spirit over the Apostles, the Holy Spirit was present in Him so it may be said the promise came from both the Holy Spirit and the Son.
Let’s see now how it was fulfilled this promise and how it took place the descent of the Holy Spirit to whom we dedicate this holy feast.

And when the Day of the Pentecost came they were all together in one place. At the command of their Lord, the Apostles remained in Jerusalem and waited for `the power from above `to tell them what they had to do. They were united in spirit and prayer all of them like one man, like one soul. The way in which the soul is satisfied it makes the men be distinct or alike. And the satisfaction of the souls of all the Apostles at that time was one work only; their souls were full of praise for God for everything had happened and waiting those which were to happen.

`And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. `They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.

What noise is that ? Isn’t it the noise of the angelic orders? Isn’t it the roar of the wings of the cherubims which was heard by prophet Ezekiel (1:24) No matter what would it be, it does not come from earth, but from the skies, not from the earthly winds, but from the heavenly powers. This noise shows the descent of the heavenly King, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. The Spirit is neither fire nor a dove. He appeared at Jordan like `a dove` and now He appears as `a fire`. In the first case to signify the entire wisdom and purity of Lord Jesus over whom He descended and here to signify a power like fire, warmth and light: a power which burns the sin, a warmth which kindles the heart and a light which enlightens the mind. The Spirit has no body and He does not receive any body only He appears according to the need in a material way which symbolizes perfectly the meaning of the moment. Why on this occasion the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire so that a tongue of fire rested on each one of the Apostles it is clearly explained in what follows:

` And began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.` Here is how it is explained the fact that the Spirit appeared as tongues of fire.

His first work was to give to the Apostles power to speak in tongues. From this it is clearly understood the fact that from the foundation of the Church of Christ, the Evangel of Salvation addressed to all the peoples of the earth as the Lord had showed it explicitly after His Resurrection, commanding to His disciples:

`Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit `(Matthew 28:19). Because the Jews, the chosen people persecuted the Lord and crucified Him on the Cross, the triumphant Lord Himself made a new election from all the peoples of the earth, forming a new chosen people which would not have one tongue but one spirit, `a holy people, the Church of God` How could the Apostles of Christ have gone to teach all the peoples if they had not known their languages. Thus these missionaries of the Evangel used at the beginning of their mission the first power, that of understanding and speaking foreign languages. As plain men they knew only Aramaic, their mother tongue and no other. If they had learnt many other tongues in a natural way, when would they have learnt them? Their whole life would not have been enough to learn so many languages they were learnt in a moment by the Holy Spirit. For at that time there were so many different peoples gathered in Jerusalem:  Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism; Cretans and Arabs. We hear them declaring the mighty works of God in our own tongues. Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?`…

They saw in front of their eyes some plain men with a plain behavior, a plain look, plain clothes and everyone heard God was praised in his own tongue. How not to marvel? How not to be amazed? Some of them not knowing how to understand what happened started to say that the Apostles were drunk. But as it often happens the honest men seem drunk to the drunk and the men with a righteous mind seem mad to the mad. Attached to the earth and drunk of earthly things how could they judge in another way the men who had been filled by Holy Spirit and who as bearers of Spirit said what they were given to say by the Spirit? Ordinary people don’t like surprises and when surprises come they receive them either with anger or with scorn. But the Holy Spirit is not like the fighting man who dashes in the house of another one. He enters the house whose door opens willingly and where He is waited as a dear long-expected guest. The Apostles waited for Him longingly and He descended over them and made His shelter within them. He did not descend over them with a threatening shout, but with a joyful cry.

Oh, my brothers, the Holy Spirit rejoices so much with an inexpressible joy when He finds pure souls which are open for Him and long for Him! With a joyful cry He shelters within them and gives them his plentiful gifts. He enters them like a fire to burn the last remnants of the seed of sin, so that the light may enlighten them with heavenly light which never sets down, so that the heat warms them with the holy warmth of love with which warm themselves the divisions of angels in the Kingdom of God. Saint Simeon the New Theologian says: `As the lamp, although it is filled with oil and has a wick, remains in the dark if it is not lit by fire, the soul is extinguished and dark until it is touched by the light and the grace of the Holy Spirit.` (Mystical treaties 59) He gave to the Apostles the gift of the tongues as His first gift this being of the greatest use in that time.

Later, as an answer at the other missionary needs of the Apostles, He poured in them other gifts as well: the gift of making miracles, of prophecy, of wisdom, of speech, of mercy, of inner peace, of steadiness in faith and hope, the gift of loving God and men. The Holy Spirit gave these gifts abundantly and with great joy not only to the Apostles, but also to their descendants and to all the saints from the Church of Christ until today all these in accordance with the need and purity of the men.

By His works on earth, Lord Jesus brought a great joy to the Father and to The Holy Spirit as well. The Holy Spirit has not felt this joy He felt on Pentecost, when God the Son created for Him the occasion to be worker among men in the plenitude of His power since the first days of Adam’s living in heaven. He indeed acted all the time upon the people who were enchained by sin since Adam’s fall into sin until the Resurrection of Christ. But His work was hindered and stopped by the sins of the people. He followed a narrow path among men pouring plenty of oil in the lamp of life so that it would not cease completely. He worked through the laws of nature and the laws of men as well, through prophets and emperors, artists and wise men – in the measure they could and wanted to sacrifice themselves for His work. Anywhere in the world tears longing after God’s justice were falling on earth, this was from the heat with which He kindled the hearts of men. Anytime a wise man had a sparkle of knowledge about the One Immortal God, this was His sparkle in his soul. Anytime an artist sang, carved or painted an allegory of life which in a way or another opened the eyes of the blind mankind to see the divine truth, there He touched the spirit of the man with His life giving breath.

Everytime the man who is really dignified, with faith in God and spirit of sacrifice defended the persecuted truth and justice, there He poured His power in the man’s heart. But this occurred without much enthusiasm or joy. These were only breadcrumbs thrown to the hungry prisoners.

However when Lord Jesus destroyed the hell of sin and death and He brought His twelve Apostles before the Holy Spirit as twelve wonderful royal servants, then God the Spirit with a cry of joy and in the plenitude of His power sheltered within them. The Holy Spirit who was still saddened by Adam’s sin began once again His unhindered work of power and liveliness among people. For a better understanding this comparison may help you: the sun shines in winter and in spring but its light and heat cannot make anything grow through the winter snow.

 However, the same sun which spreads the same heat and light makes all the sowed seeds germinate and grow. The scientists tell us that the part of the earth where is winter moves away from the sun, that the zones covered by snow are located farther from the sun and they receive sunlight in an inclined plane and its rays don’t reach them straightly. In spring that part of the earth turns to the sun, the zones covered by snow get closer to the sun and its warmth and light reach them straightly.

From Adam to Christ, the souls of men were like the earth in winter. The Holy Spirit gave light and warmth but because of the sinful twisting of the man’s soul and of his estrangement of God this remained frozen and no fruit could sprout and grow from it.

Lord Jesus guided the man’s soul and brought it close to God, removed the ice and snow which was on it, ploughed and sowed in it the holy seed. Then the Holy Spirit began as the springtime sun to give and display by His power, sweet and wonderful fruit in the soil of the human soul. Winter can never make the miracles with which spring adorns the earth. In the same way the men turn away from the Holy Spirit, living with their souls deceived by the ice and snow of self-deception.  They can never believe in the wonderful gifts with which the Holy Spirit adorns those who approach Him and sit under the straight rays of His divine light and warmth. How could an Eskimo who was born and lived all his life in ice and snow believe the traveler from the Southern lands when this one speaks about trees in bloom and meadows covered by colorful flowers and green hills? In the same way the men from a country which was away of God, frozen and darkened by sin did not believe the Apostles when these began to announce the joyful news about the Living God from the Sky: about the Father Who calls to Him all those who want to be His sons; about the Son of God Who came in the world as a man, lived among people, suffered for people, was resurrected from the dead in power and ascended in glory; about the Holy Spirit Who descended over them and gave then the heavenly gifts, about the country full of light, without death from heaven from which we are separated by sin; about the purity of life which is sought at us for being able to return in our heavenly homeland and become companions and brothers of the angels in the eternal life.

Some believed in these joyful news, others no. From the Holy Apostles flowed rivers of living water through all the world. Some of the men approached and drank enough of this living water, others didn’t drink. The Apostles walked among people like some gods, making miracles, soothing any grief and healing any weakness, preaching repentance and the absolution of sins. Some men received them gladly and others persecuted them angrily and contemptuously. Those who received them felt their communion with the Holy Spirit and His work in them. Thus the Holy People increased in number and the Church of God became wider and was founded in the world. Thus the seed germinated and gave fruit. Therefore the house of truth which had Lord Jesus as foundation stone, was sanctified by the Holy Spirit and spread in all the corners of the world, its towers reaching the greatest heights of the Sky.

Celebrating today the feast of the Holy Spirit Who out of His endless love for God the Son with unlimited joy and obedience willed to descend on earth and take in His almighty hands the work of salvation of the man, let us invoke glorifying praises towards the Most Holy Virgin Mary over whom the Holy Spirit descended before He descended over the Apostles.

The Holy Spirit descended over the Apostles as a Church as the communion in one thought of the saints while the Spirit descended over the Holy Mother of God as over the most excellent one.

`The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you `(Luke 1:35), Archangel Gabriel announced the Most holy Virgin and she by the power of the Holy Spirit gave birth to the most glorified offspring, whose scent crossed the sky and the earth and by whom all the believers are fed from the first to the last.

Oh, Most Holy and Most Immaculate Mother of the Lord, you, the morning and the cradle of our salvation, our image of humbleness and obedience, our protector and intercessor before the throne of God, pray for us without cease with the Holy Apostles!

`Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth come and shelter and abide in us as power, light and warmth, as our life and joy! Cleanse us of all our sins and and save our souls, O Good One. Fill our hearts of joy and our mouths of praises to glorify You with the Father and the Son – the one in essence and inseparable Trinity, now and forever. Amen.