Sunday 11th June 2000
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In a week's time we will keep the Feast of the Holy Trinity and on the next day especially the Feast of the Holy Spirit. We are going to ask, in our prayers, for the Holy Spirit to come down to us; more than this, to pervade, to fill us, to transform and transfigure us.
The world was created by God's word, by a call of God to come into existence and to meet Him in the mystery of the divine love that gives itself to us. And we know to what extent love divine is capable of giving without counting – think of the crucifixion, think of the life and death of Christ. This is the measure of God's love for us.
And when the world was created, we are told in the beginnings of Genesis that the Holy Spirit was breathing upon the newly-created world, bringing out all its capabilities, making it possible to unfold, to grow from glory to glory. And when sin had confused the ways of the created world, and of men in particular, the Holy Spirit was there, reminding us, calling us, making Himself tangibly known to us and bringing us in repentance to the God who loved us to the point of the crucifixion.
If we want to understand the dread words of the Gospel, that all sins against the Son can be forgiven but not the sins against the Holy Spirit, we can try to understand it in the following way.
Christ was a Word which we can hear, and we can misunderstand or understand. Christ was light that makes everything visible, but the light itself remains unseen to us. He called us to understand, He explained to us all that we are capable of understanding. But there was something more to be done, because we may confuse words and notions and understanding. But He sent to us the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit who is like fire and like warmth – warmth that pervades all it touches. And here we can understand the difference between the knowledge acquired in the Spirit and in the Son.
The Son remains the Word. He remains the truth, which we can understand to the extent to which we are ready for it. The Holy Spirit is the divine warmth, divine life, pervading us and making us to commune with what is God, and God's own. We may be confused by what we hear and do not understand but if we deny the direct experience which is given us in the gift of the Holy Spirit, if we say we are filled with the warmth of God and that it is untrue, it remains cold, then we deny not the Holy Spirit, we deny the experience which we actually have and which we do not want to recognise. And no one can save us from the denial of our own knowledge of the truth. The knowledge proclaimed we may not be ready, mature enough to understand. The knowledge experienced, if we deny it, condemns us.
Let us therefore, as we prepare for the service of Pentecost at which we will pray for the Holy Spirit to come down upon us, to fill us again, to burn all terrors, to bring warmth to what has gone cold, to melt the ice which is in our hearts and minds, let us ask ourselves: how much have I truly experienced the gift of the Holy Spirit? What has He taught us, not in words but in direct knowledge up to which I have not lived? And let us make haste to recapture it, to beg the Holy Spirit for forgiveness, to come back to the point of experiential knowledge which was ours, and open ourselves to a vaster, deeper, more profound and more perfect knowledge which we can receive from the Holy Spirit, in Christ and by the gift of the Father, next week when we pray. Amen.