One of the great dangers of our Catholic faith is to dehumanize it. It is to break it down to a system of rules that we all follow and nothing more. So, we turn it into a two-dimensional moral system that comes with a reward at the end of our life.
However, in today’s Gospel we see Jesus tell us that He will send the Holy Spirit who will teach you everything. What does he mean by everything? This means that the Holy Spirit comes to make our faith alive for every generation and culture.
Who is the Holy Spirit? Well we know He is the third person of the Holy Trinity. Jesus also calls him the Advocate and the Spirit of Truth. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is God coming to us and guiding us and leading us through our lives to unity with the Father. Remember at Christmas, Jesus is Emanuel, which means God is with us. It does not mean just Jesus is with us, but God is with us and now through the Holy Spirit.
He is the spirit of truth and, therefore, he is the spirit of what we know to be true and what we do not yet know to be truth.
Socrates explained that the wisest man was the one who knew that he did not know. That is to say that there was so much truth that is greater than our ability to grasp it.
The Holy Spirit is the spirit of that truth. It is this truth that Jesus sends to us. He is the spirit of what we know with certainty, but also the spirit of what we do not know. He is the one who guides us through what we do not know.
What makes the difference between the atheist and the Catholic is that the atheist believes that everything there is to know is either known or soon to be known. The Catholic understands that there is much more to universe than what we already know or will know. This becomes the great difference.
I always bring up the issue of angels. The atheist will say that they don’t exist and the proof of that statement is that none of us can see angels. The question of angels is not whether or not they exist however it is rather is there a reality that is beyond our ability to perceive it. If we assume that answer to that question is true, then we assume that there is more to the universe around us than we can fully understand, hence the need for the spirit of truth and our faith in that spirit of truth. If we assume that the answer to that question is false, then we assume that everything that exists in limited to what we specifically can perceive. That is a limited take on the world.
Once we understand that there is so much in our world that we do not understand and we know that our universe is bigger than our ability to perceive it, we realize the reason why Christ sent his spirit of truth to guide us on how to live in such a universe.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit is there to teach us who we are and how we live in this vast universe that is beyond us. This brings us back to the simple rules. What is the greatest rule that Jesus teaches: Love one another.
It sounds simple enough, we all know that it is not that simple.
Now let me contrast that idea with something we see in our society.
You have seen the NOH8 signs. Communities boast that within their borders there will be No Hate. You realize there is nothing Christian about that idea.
Jesus taught us to Love and so His spirit, the Spirit of truth calls us to love. If you choose to love, you will not act on feelings that call you to hate. You just won’t. You may feel hate at times, even justly, but if you are going to live as Christ calls us you will not act on those feelings. Why? Jesus does not call us not to act against feelings of hate, he calls us to love. If you do not act on any feelings of hate, either to a friend, stranger or even an enemy, but do not love, you are not doing what Jesus says.
This is because what is the more socially destructive force is not hate, it is indifference. Indifference is worse than hate. It is intensely destructive because of the population’s indifference to those who are being targeted. The sin of indifference is a sin of omission.
It is the sin detailed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he talked about when they came for others, etc and I said nothing.
Indifference is not hate, but it is also not love. St. Paul told you to be kind even to your enemies. These are acts of love. Indifference is not love.
The world is filled with indifference more than any form of hate. However, Jesus calls us to love and the Holy Spirit guides us to understand not only how to love but how to be courageous so that we may love.
He also helps us to have a healthy sense of sin, because when we avoid sin, we grow in our ability to love.
Everything the Church teaching us to do is rooted in love in one form or another.
Our form of love is rooted in sacrifice for others.
One of the priests in the Archdiocese who is now deceased was an Air Force Chaplain. He purposely choose not to go up the ranks quickly to give room for protestant chaplains to raise in rank. The reason, he explained is that as a priest he did not need to support a family. The protestants did, so he sacrificed money and rank for his brother chaplains.
Jesus calls us to a sacrificial and witnessing form of love and the Holy Spirit guides us in how to do it.
Cover: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Photo:Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]