On the evening of Easter, ' He breathed on them'...
The Spirit has certainly stirred things up, hasn't he? I'm referring to the light that has come into the Church with Pope Francis. It seems to me the Pope notes the 'upheaval' in his Easter Vigil homily, when he refers to something new happening to the women at the tomb... comparing our own experience to theirs; "Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do." We are confused by this new Pope - I think all of us are trying to figure him out, and in the process we are discovering 'new' things about ourselves and our relationship to God, to Christ, to the Church, to one another, to the poor and outsiders.
The Holy Spirit and Easter night...
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"
"It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you."
I'm reminded of the Encyclical On the Holy Spirit from Pope John Paul II... I'm thinking of the Holy Spirit: "The Spirit of God," who according to the biblical description of creation "was moving over the face of the water," and how he stirred everything up at that first Pentecost as well. How unsettling his action can be. Even today.
Piously, I continue to consider the renunciation of Pope Benedict XVI and its meaning. In that regard, I reflected on Christ's revelation to the disciples on Holy Thursday: "If I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you." Of course, I'm not suggesting that the two popes are actually reenacting in a literal sense the Paschal mystery, yet the promise of Christ seems - to me at least, to be more understandable in the morning light of Easter. Oddly enough, the passage from John helps me to see a continuity, a continuum between the two popes, and again I only apply Christ's words for the sake of analogy, placing them as it were, on the lips of Benedict: "He will take what is mine and declare it to you." Without deprecating Pope Benedict in the least, I have to believe Pope Francis is doing that - although it just doesn't look the same.
Implementing Vatican II: The work of the Pope.
That was the work of the new Pope's predecessors, and it is his work too:
As the Council writes, "the Spirit dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple (cf. 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19). In them he prays and bears witness to the fact that they are adopted sons (cf. Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15-16:26). The Spirit guides the Church into the fullness of truth (cf. Jn 16:13) and gives her a unity of fellowship and service. He furnishes and directs her with various gifts, both hierarchical and charismatic, and adorns her with the fruits of his grace (cf Eph 4:11-12; 1 Cor 12:4; Gal 5:22). By the power of the Gospel he makes the Church grow, perpetually renews her and leads her to perfect union with her Spouse."Pope Francis seems to me to be the one ushering in the 'New' Pentecost envisioned by the Council, and 'predicted' by JPII and B16. So far his actions have upset nearly everyone in the Church. But that fact alone, on some level - I'm convinced, is the action of the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus during the discourse in the Upper Room foretells the coming of the Holy Spirit "at the price of" his own departure, and promises "I will send him to you," in the very same context he adds: "And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment."102 The same Counselor and Spirit of truth who has been promised as the one who "will teach" and "bring to remembrance, " who "will bear witness," and "guide into all the truth," in the words just quoted is foretold as the one who "will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement."Convincing the world concerning sin... righteousness... judgement.
Charismatics use the term 'convicted' when describing the action of the Holy Spirit convincing them concerning sin. I love that expression. Such convincing brings repentance, contrition, enflaming the heart with compunction - it's a great 'light', a grace, a ' divine touch' of love. So far Pope Francis' actions have convicted me of my sin - or propensity towards it, my inconstancy, as well as my self-righteousness... and judgement. I wonder how many others he has touched in this way - without their understanding it?
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." This revelation of freedom and hence of man's true dignity acquires a particular eloquence for Christians and for the Church in a state of persecution-both in ancient times and in the present-because the witnesses to divine Truth then become a living proof of the action of the Spirit of truth present in the hearts and minds of the faithful, and they often mark with their own death by martyrdom the supreme glorification of human dignity.**All quotes taken from Dominum et vivificantem, Bl. Pope John Paul II
NB: These are just my 'pious' reflections of course - and I'm probably wrong. Pray for me.