MAY 27, 2012 - PENTECOST : 1 COR 12:3-7,12,13 ; JOHN 20;19-23

NO ONE CAN SAY 'JESUS IS THE LORD' EXCEPT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. A most suitable comment by Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians that we heard in the second reading today as we commemorate the all important role of the Holy Spirit. He was sent from the Father and the risen Son to be given to the early Church on this feast of Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Jesus' resurrection. He remains a permanent gift for our benefit as He will continue to be through all ages. NO ONE CAN SAY 'JESUS IS THE LORD' EXCEPT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. We realize very quickly upon hearing these words of Saint Paul, that his statement presupposes an essential truth. If Paul leaves it unstated it is because he presumes his audience will take it for granted. Paul's assertion implies that the one who says "Jesus is the Lord" is not merely repeating a formula of empty words; rather, this utterance is meant as a statement of convinced belief.  Such a profession of faith, Paul here assures us, is rendered possible by the active presence of the Spirit of God in the heart of the speaker. By the Spirit's impulse the believer is energized, making this profession that is more than a simple statement of fact, for it engages the person of the one confessing to this transcendent truth. The Greek word Saint Paul employs here is Kyrios, which is repeatedly the designated name for God in the Greek Old Testament, where the Hebrew uses the term Adonay .A striking instance of this usage that is evoked by Paul's words is found in the LX X version of the prophet Isaiah's account of his inaugural vision: "I saw the Kyrios seated on a high and exalted throne." Kyrios here translates the Hebrew Adonay, the name for God Himself as Payl well realized. This seemingly simple statement "Jesus is Lord" then is act of witness to a living faith that Jesus shares the same nature as God. As we reflect on its implications we become aware that this confession of faith, made as it is by the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit represents more than an acknowledgment of a conviction; it actually effects a transcendent relationship with the Lord whose nature it recognizes and whose person the believer adheres to. This relationship with God represents, then, a new existence that, in binding to the Lord elevates the believers, introducing them into that world beyond the universe of time, where the Lord is all in all. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul states the matter with all desirable force of conviction: "If we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we do no longer. If there is a new creature in Christ, the old has passed away, for behold! All things are made new. All is from God." (2 Cor 5:16-18)

Spoken in the Holy Spirit, our confession that Jesus is Lord, being a personal commitment to the divinity of the person of Jesus, contains a divine power. This hidden but real presence of the Spirit establishes in the person who opens the heart to this truth a relationship that, in its essence, partakes of eternity. There is nothing magical about the formula "Jesus is Lord" as a group of words. What causes it to possess this transforming power, creative of an identity that is intrinsically stronger than any merely human condition is the active involvement of the Holy Spirit by whose agency such a committed belief comes to deliberate expression. A
feature of God's wisdom and creative intelligence is His capacity for realizing the most sublime conditions by the most ordinary means. Saint Augustine had adverted to this feature of Divine Providence in directing and enabling nature. The potential dormant in a single seed that develops into a complex and voluminous plant is an unendingly fascinating process that we take for granted because it is so commonly met with. The more modern science discovers about the nature of our material universe in all its complexity of detail, the more mysterious it is seen to be.

The early Catholic Fathers were convinced that God is not only present to us through nature, but continues to sustain it in existence and function. By contemplating the living presence of God, symbolized by the presence of the Spirit hovering over the waters of primitive creation, we grow in sensitivity to divine action in the universe. Today such sensitivity to the Spirit of God within us and in the world is increasingly urgent in the face of the growing materialism with its denial of a personal God. That Christian morality and fundamental Catholic beliefs are being forced out of our public life under the present government, makes it all the more urgent that each of us welcomes with heightened conviction the indwelling Spirit who abides in our heart. As we celebrate in this Eucharist the mystery of God's love given us in his Beloved Son's sacrifice and his resurrection, may his Holy Spirit strengthen us in our daily witness that in all truth "Jesus is the Lord."

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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