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제목 The Catholics Burning by the Fire of the Holy Ghost
작성자 관리자 작성일 2022-06-05


The Catholics burning by the fire of the Holy Ghost(Pentecost)

Today, we celebrate the fulfilment of the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ to send the Holy Ghost. Indeed Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, in order to show that He, together with the Father, sends the Holy Ghost: “I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn. 16:7). The Holy Ghost is “the Spirit of the Father” (Mt. 10:20) and also “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9, see Phil. 1:19, 1Pet 1:11). This is very important, because the sending of the Holy Ghost is one of the (many) proofs of the Divinity of Christ.

Now, our Lord Jesus Christ is the “Holy of holies”, and His Spirit is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of holiness. He gives us His Spirit so that we may become holy. Hence the Holy Ghost is the One who Sanctifies, “the Life-giver”, giving us the spiritual life. That new life is essentially a participation in the life of God, a life of knowing and loving God, starting on earth by Faith burning with charity and having its full completion in the beatific Vision in Heaven.

That new life starts at Baptism, by which we are “born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:6), as our Lord Jesus Christ was “made flesh by the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary” (Nicene Creed). We need that new life in order to go to Heaven: “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5). Because, without the grace of God, we “were dead in our offences, and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

My dear brethren, by Baptism you were “born of the Holy Ghost”, what have you done with that new life which you then received? Have we let it be chocked by “the cares and riches and pleasures of this life”? (Lk. 8:14) Have we been really “dead to sin, but alive unto God, in Christ Jesus our Lord” ? (Rom. 6:11) St Paul gives to the Galatians a test for that, enumerating the fruits of the flesh and the fruits of the Holy Ghost:

“For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would.” (Gal. 5:17) He shows here the inner battle that is found in all of us – at least if we fight for good, because of the wounds of sin, i.e. these tendencies to rebel.

St Paul continues: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Gal. 5:18) that is, if by the grace of the Holy Ghost, we do the right things that he is going to enumerate below, we are not crushed by the Law (“not under the law”), but the Law of God is rather a friend that guides us on the path to heaven, as the book of Proverb says: “lex lux – the Law is a Light” (Prov. 6:23).

The Protestants often misinterpret that word of St Paul, that “we are not under the Law” (many references: Rom. 6:14,15; 1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 3:23; Gal. 4:5,21; Gal. 5:18). They often interpret this as if even the moral Law (Decalogue) would not apply to the New Testament, as if we were no longer obliged to obey the moral Law. This is very much against St Paul’s own very clear writings, such as this: “For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief. Be ye not therefore partakers with them” (Eph. 5:5-7). Hearing this, who can say honestly claim that the moral law does not also apply to the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ?

St Augustine has a much better explanation: he points out that in 1 Cor. 9:21 St Paul contrasts being UNDER the Law and being WITH the Law, saying that he is not under the Law but with the Law of Christ: and he explains that, by the grace of Christ we follow the Law, thus the Law no longer condemns us but rather approves us, it no longer “crushes us” (as UNDER a heavy weight) but rather the Law has become a friend that walks WITH us and guides us on the way to Heaven: lex lux, the Law is a Light.

So, in the passage of the epistles of the Galatians that we started to explain, St Paul continues enumerating the evil deeds of the flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21) Now, that is very clear and needs no explanation.

He continues: “But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23): that is what he said before: those who are led by the Spirit, i.e. docile to the Holy Ghost, are not under the Law. That is the true Christian life: “charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity.” These are called by St Thomas Aquinas: the fruits of the Holy Ghost.

“And they that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24-25). In order to bear these fruits of the Holy Ghost, it is necessary to oppose and fight against the flesh and its evil desires.

The Holy Ghost helps us much to live such spiritual life. First of all by prayer: in order to do good, we need the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; and grace is given in abundance to those who pray: “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (Mt. 7:7-8).

The Holy Ghost is called: “the Spirit of grace and of prayers” by the prophet Zachary: “I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace, and of prayers: and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced: and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn” (Zach. 12:10).

He is the Spirit that leads us to pray, especially contemplating the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Him whom they have pierced”, the “only-begotten Son”, the “First-born” among many brethren. A true spiritual life is a life of constant prayer: “we ought always to pray, and not to lose heart” (Lk. 18:1).

That fervent prayer makes us burn with the fire of charity: “My heart grew hot within me: and in my meditation a fire shall flame out” (Ps. 38:4). That is the fire of the Holy Ghost, fire which our Lord wants to enkindle in the whole earth: “I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled?” (Lk. 12:49). The fire of the love of God.

God has given us his gifts, faith, charity, etc. not only for our own salvation, but so that through us many others may also receive these same gifts: “I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). He is Life itself; St John says beautifully in his epistle: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life: For the Life was manifested; and we have seen and do bear witness, and declare unto you the Life Eternal, which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us: That which we have seen and have heard, we declare unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and our fellowship may be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you, that you may rejoice, and your joy may be full” (1 Jn. 1:1-4). So, St John did not only receive that Life, but he was careful to give it to others too.

The more we appreciate the gifts of God, the more we realise that we should give them to others. And St John Chrysostom tells us that the more we give them, the more we have them! The more we spread the true Faith burning with charity, the more our own faith is strengthened and charity enkindled.

You see, there is a great mystery: God “will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Yet, when we look at the world, we see many who are ignorant of Christ and far from God. Why is it so, if God really wants all men to be saved? There are many reasons for that, but one which we see today in this feast of Pentecost. Our Lord had said: “I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I, but that it be kindled?” (Lk. 12:49). He came to set the earth on fire with the Love of God, on fire with the holy Fire of the Holy Ghost, as the flames that appeared today on the Apostles manifest.

But how did He do it? He lit twelve torches, the Apostles, and sent them into the world, a little bit like Samson had attached torched of fire to the tails of the foxes which he sent into the fields of the Philistines: and everything went into flames! So, our Lord Jesus Christ wants to set the world in fire with the love of God sending YOU out, burning with that divine fire, to enkindle all those around you with that love of God, with the fire of the Holy Ghost. And how many Catholics are themselves really on fire with the Holy Ghost? How many are zealous to spread that divine Fire around them? By the example of their holy life and good works, together with their good words? The failures of many, especially among the clergy, is a first explanation why there are still so many in ignorance.

Moreover, when you actually try to spread around the fire of the Holy Ghost, you encounter the second reason why there are many in ignorance: because very many people are not interested in God, in spiritual life, in mortifying themselves on earth in order to attain eternal life in Heaven. Many say: we do not want to know about God! And others say: we do not want of a crucified God, we want a god according to our desires, that goes along with our vices, or at least lets us continue without calling us to penance.

So, what are we going to do to overcome these obstacles? Well: what did our Lord Jesus Christ do to overcome the rebelliousness of our human race, our own rebelliousness? He offered Himself as a Victim of expiation on the Cross. Hence the Saints would start their missions by prayer and penance, before even starting to preach. This is what our Lord Himself do with his forty days of prayer and fasting.

12 Apostles, it is little to convert them world! “The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest” (Lk. 10:2), labourers filled with the fire of the Holy Ghost and eager to follow the steps of the Saints, of the Apostles and ultimately of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In this time before Pentecost, with the Apostles around our Lady in the Cenacle, let us pray to receive an abundance of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, so that we may truly life that spiritual life and communicate it around us, for our salvation and the salvation of many! Amen!

Father François Laisney