We are weak vessels, broken vessels, fallen. We are not yet able to look God in the face - We are not able to bear the truth. This is why Christ often spoke to his disciples in parables. He gave us an opportunity to let things sink in, by planting seeds. However, there is more that he wants us to know, just as there was more that he wanted his apostles to know, in order to continue to spread his good news. For that reason, he sends the Holy Spirit. Once poured upon his apostles, the Holy Spirit empowers them with the ability to hear the truth, so that they may spread his truth. We, too, are enlightened in a similar way by the Holy Spirit, through our baptism, strengthened through our confirmation, and imprinted upon in our ordination.
The Holy Spirit provides clarity of truth, because the Holy Spirit is truth. He fully understands our Lord, and therefore is able to intercede on our behalf. When we cannot express the words of our innermost hearts, we can pray through the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit guides us in truth, if we let him, and directs our gaze toward Christ, as we are told he glorifies Christ. He also shows us what is to come. Just as John the Baptist prepared us for Jesus’ arrival, Jesus implied that there were things that were to come that we were not yet ready to know of, but these things would nevertheless need clarifying. The Holy Spirit provides that clarify, offering a voice of truth. Through discernment in him, we catch a glimpse. He gradually directs us, disciplines us, and perfects our understanding. This is why the theology of sola-scriptura is so difficult to comprehend, in comparison to prima-scriptura, because whilst all of Scripture is God-breathed, Christ told his disciples that some things remain hidden, and that they - and therefore we - would be taught by the Holy Spirit when he comes to us. The Scriptures are our primary source of reference, but not our only source. Sacred tradition is important not for vain reasons, but because it gives room for the Holy Spirit to do his work, as Christ prophesied he would. Sometimes it is the difference between knowledge and understanding. The knowledge of something can be revealed through the Scriptures, but the understanding of it only comes through the Holy Spirit. The theology of the Trinity is a prime example of this. Knowledge of the Trinity was hidden in the Scriptures, but understanding of it did not come until later, thanks to revelation by the Holy Spirit, literal inspiration. He taught us of his divinity, through his divine mysteries. Relying on Scripture alone, disregards the presence of the Holy Spirit, whose power has inspired tradition. It is His office, to direct us and to help the Church in its interpretation of the revelation of the Scriptures. God the Father sent us his only begotten son, the person of Christ, who revealed the Gospel and sent us the person of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who revealed the Trinity, the Godhead, the three-in-one, an ever-loving God, in an ever-loving relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
As a transitional deacon, I have been looking forward to preaching on the Trinity. Mainly because it is the one week of the year that every priest warned us about throughout our training and formation at seminary. “Trinity Sunday is the tricky one, beware!” But perhaps it is supposed to be? The Scriptures were compiled after our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection, and even they didn’t contain an explicit instruction on the Trinity. This hints at the fact that it was a truth too much to bear, even for the apostles. And if the apostles were holier than us, what is to say that we are any more worth of fully understanding? The Holy Spirit in his divinity shares his truth with us, but that doesn’t mean we have the power or authority, as mortal creatures, to articulate the very existence of God. It seems right to me, that a perfect explanation of the triune God is beyond our capabilities.
Could it be a that we are not meant to understand the Trinity, any more than we are meant to understand the Holy Spirit, but that we are to know Him, to love Him, and to let Him into our hearts. We can know fractions of the truth, but we cannot in this existence know the full truth - that is to come in the beatific vision, when we will know Him as He knows us, face-to-face.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. All things came into being from the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ. Likewise with the Holy Spirit. He comes to us not with his own authority, but that of our Lord and Saviour. He proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit speaks what He hears. The Father and the Son speak in agreement with and through the Holy Spirit. He speaks truth, by breathing wisdom into us. Christ tells us what is the Father’s belongs to him, and that includes us. We are his, he loves us, and that is why he sends his Holy Spirit to be upon us. So that we are eternally with him. His Spirit lives in us, so that we may live in him.
I am often asked by my low church friends, “are you born again?” as I am sure, are many of you. Of course, they often mean it as a trap, a kind of trick question, as it usually comes when they’re evangelical spicy senses are tingly at the sound of something catholic-sounding. But the question perplexes me, because the way it is asked people are often really wanting to know “are you an evangelical Christian” or “do you worship in the same way I do?” There is an inherently anti-Catholic sentiment behind it, as if disregarding Church tradition could somehow be a good thing, so long as one proscribes to the label of ‘born again’. The better question, I think, would be “are you baptised?” Because that is what unites us through our love of Christ, our becoming one with his body, joining his Church. The instruction he left us was to be “born again in water and the Holy Spirit”, not to be ‘born again’ in the sense of charismatic worship style, ignoring sacred tradition, as handed down to us from the apostles, but being born again in water and the Holy Spirit in the sense of being baptised in the name of the triune God. Receiving his graces, through the person of the Holy Spirit, that indemnible mark upon our souls that says to him, we are yours. We love you, Lord, and we will try our whole lives to love you as you love us, even though we know we can never succeed, because your love for us is infinite. Our baptism is a sign - quite literally, an outward and visible sign of the inward grace that we receive - but also a physical sign of our oneness with Christ. It replaces the need for circumcision as a method of setting ourselves apart for Him and our ministry toward Him. Because that is what our baptism is, really, an ordination. We, all of us Christians, laity and clergy alike, enter the Royal Priesthood of all believers. We are all called to disciple the nations. We are all called to spread the good news, that Christ died on the cross for our sins, to pay that price on our behalf, and he rose again from the dead to offer us eternal salvation, so that we might live forever in him. All we must do is repent of our sins and follow him.
To follow him is not always easy, most of us know that. It is difficult to follow a plan when we are unable to see the full picture. The Holy Spirit descends upon us as and when he pleases, for reasons we may not ever know, but we feel his presence and we are aware of his working through us for the greater good, toward his divine plan.
Let us pray for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, Did instruct the hearts of the faithful, Grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
And as we pray for the Holy Spirit to instruct our hearts, let us be reminded that June is a sacred month. The enemy is attempting to undermine the Lord by claiming the month for his favourite sin, Pride. It is on us to reclaim the month for our Lord. Let us remind people that June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In our duty as minister of Christ, I pray we all find the courage to lead our flocks away from Pride month, away from sin, and back toward venerating the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, as are called to do. Amen