Reflection & Dialogue: The Holy Spirit and dialogue with the modern age
In recent decades in Catholic spirituality and liturgy there has been renewed interest in the role of the Holy Spirit in Christian life. This is particularly in evidence in the new Eucharistic prayers. One of them recalls that Christ by rising from the dead has destroyed death and restored life. And that we may live no longer for ourselves but for him, he sent the Holy Spirit from the Father, as his first gift to those who believe, to complete his work on earth and bring us the fullness of grace. Before the words of consecration in the new Eucharistic prayers the celebrant prays to God the Father to send the Holy Spirit on the offerings so that they may become the Body and Blood of Christ, and after the consecration a similar prayer is addressed to the Father to look upon this sacrifice and by his Holy Spirit to gather all who partake of the Eucharist into the one Body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise—a prayer that the community becomes a living Eucharist..
Central to New Testament and Christian teaching is the unity between God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and creation. The death of Christ is evidence of God’s love for the world. The life of the Father is fully in the Son, and Jesus’ wish is that this his own life and love, and that of the Father, be in believers.
For dialogue with our own age this implies that all that is good in the world is from God, loved by God. All the manifold gifts and traits of humanity are from God, even in those who may not advert to this, or even believe in God – all the social concerns, the service of one’s fellows.
Believers are carriers of this message in our own day or in any other. But together with this very positive message, and the call of believers to be witnesses to it, Jesus makes it very clear to his disciples that they should be prepared to bear this message in hostile surroundings and even in persecution. Part of the hostility they are told to be prepared for is indicated as attacks on Jesus’ person and message. They will need strong faith conviction, and this Jesus promises with come through the Holy Spirit, the Advocate for the truth of Jesus’ message, and the Comforter in their trials. The two great commandments according to the First Letter of John are faith and love of the neighbour, faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God against all opposition. All this can be of significant help to us to day in our dialogue with questions of our age.