The Pentecost of the "called alongside" as defender, rescuer and comforter

Homiletics of the Fathers of The Island of Patmos


The Synoptic Gospels say that Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit, descended upon him in baptism, he then promised it as a gift to the disciples, in particular for the hour of persecution, when the Spirit will be their true defense: speaking into them and teaching them what needs to be said.









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The lectionary of the Italian Church presents per this Pentecost Sunday two passages taken from the Fourth Gospel which in truth are somewhat artificial constructions, as they are made up of verses belonging to different contexts. In this year B the text is composed of two verses where Jesus promises the disciples the Holy Spirit (GV 15,26-27) and by four others in which he specifies the action of the same Spirit in the days of the Church (GV 16,12-15). Jesus pronounces these words while he is still at the table with his disciples after the washing of their feet (cf.. GV 13,1-20) and communicates words of farewell, because "the hour has come to pass from this world to the Father" (GV 13,1). Here is the evangelical passage of the Solemnity:

Pentecost, fresco by Quirino De Ieso (1999)

"During that time, Jesus told his disciples: «When the Paraclete comes, which I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me; and you too bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have much more to say to you, but by the time you are not able to bear them. When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all the truth, because he will not speak for himself, but he will speak everything he hears, and he will tell you things to come. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is mine; this is why I said that he will take from what is mine and announce it to you" (GV 15,26-27; 16,12-15).

The Synoptic Gospels they say that Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit, descended upon him in baptism (cf.. MC 1,10), he then promised it as a gift to the disciples, in particular for the hour of persecution (cf.. MC 13,11 e par.), when the Spirit will be their true defense: speaking into them and teaching them what needs to be said. We find the same promise in the Gospel according to John (cf.. GV 14,26-27). It will come Parakletos (supplicant) a term that is not immediately understandable, the meaning of which is: «the one called next» as defender, rescuer and comforter. The sanctifying Spirit that Jesus, ascended to the Father, will send. Then the Spirit will bear witness to Jesus, just as the disciples themselves will do, who have been with him since the beginning of his mission. This is the decisive function of the Holy Spirit who, how he was "Jesus' inseparable companion" (Basil of Caesarea), after Jesus sent him from his glory to the Father, becomes the inseparable companion of every Christian.

He is that breath of God that Jesus breathes on the disciples after the resurrection and the very life of God which is also of Jesus becomes life in the disciples and enables them to be his witnesses. A synergy will be produced between the testimony of the Spirit and that of the disciples. And this regarding Christ. Even when men feel that Christians are strangers, in the persecutions or hostilities suffered by the world, in the power of the Spirit Christians will continue to bear witness to Jesus.

Pentecost then is the fullness of Easter. With it the Church celebrates the gift of the Spirit, on the one hand it recalls what God has already done in Jesus of Nazareth and on the other it invokes what is not yet, that is, the universal and cosmic extension of the energies of life and salvation deployed by God himself in the resurrection of Jesus. Pentecost is simultaneously celebration and invocation. The first reading of today's Solemnity (At 2,1-11) it shows the Spirit in his aspect of gift from above which makes the disciples capable of communicating the great actions of God in the languages ​​of men. It is an openness to the languages ​​and communication skills of others. The Spirit is thus at the origin of a mission that is at the same time one of inculturation, to reach the other where he is; and corresponding deculturation, so as not to announce as Gospel what is simply culture. Just as the Scripture says:

«The spirit of the Lord fills the universe and, embracing everything, knows every voice" (cf.. Sap, 1,7).

The second reading presents the fruits of the Spirit. He who is invisible makes himself recognizable by the fruits he produces in man if he welcomes his presence. The Spirit with his "indwelling" makes man go from being a closed and self-referential individuality, Paul alludes to this when he speaks of "satisfying the desires of the flesh" (Gal 5, 16-21); to be open to relationships with others and with God. Paul states: «The fruit of the Spirit, however, is love, gioia, pace, magnanimity, benevolence, goodness, fidelity, mildness, self-control… Therefore if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk according to the Spirit" (Gal 5, 22.25). Thus the Spirit shapes the face of the believer in the image of the face of Christ, guiding him on the path to holiness: fruit of the Spirit is the holy man.

In the second part of today's evangelical passage Jesus says a few more words about this divine breath which is the Spirit. He is aware of being the revealer of the Father as stated in the Johannine prologue: "It gave, no one has seen him: the only Son, who is God and is at the Father, it is he who has made him known " (cf.. exegetical Of GV 1,18, the greek explainer). He did it with events and words and above all by loving his people until the end (cf.. GV 13,1), but he also knows that he could have said many more things. Jesus warns us that there is a progressive initiation into the knowledge of God, a growth in this same knowledge, which cannot be given once and for all. In this way the disciple learns to know the Lord every day of his life, «from beginning to beginning, for beginnings that never end" (cf.. Gregory of Nyssa). The life of the disciple opens up to ever greater understanding and everything that a person experiences, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, acquires a new meaning in God. Each of us experiences it; the more we progress in personal life and in responding to the Lord's call in history, the more we know him: «In the illumination of the Spirit, we will see the true light that illuminates every man who comes into the world" (cf.. San Basilio).

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (EB 13,8), does not change, but the Spirit will guide us to the whole truth. These, sent to the disciples, remind them of his words (cf.. GV 14,26), it deepens them and new events and realities are illuminated and understood precisely thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christ is not succeeded by the Holy Spirit, the age of the Son is not followed by that of the Spirit, because the Spirit who proceeds from the Father is also the Spirit of the Son: “All that the Father has is mine”. Where there is Christ there is the Spirit and where there is the Spirit there is Christ. He is the perennial source of the Spirit who never runs out and always renews the Church, as John himself reminds us: «On the last day, the big day of the party, Jesus, pillow block feet, he shouted: «If anyone is thirsty, come to me, and let him who believes in me drink. As Scripture says: From her womb rivers of living water will flow. This he said of the Spirit that those who believe in him would receive: in fact there was not yet the Spirit, because Jesus had not yet been glorified" (GV 7, 37-39).

For this reason the Church continually invokes this water, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, which is also the ever-creating breath of life, according to the words of the Psalm: «Send your Spirit, everything will be created and you will renew the face of the earth" (Shall 104, 30).


From the Hermitage, 19 May 2024



Sant'Angelo Cave in Ripe (Civitella del Tronto)



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