May 20, 2018
Easter time does not end with the feast of the Ascension, and the mission of Jesus, the Son sent by the Father, is not complete when the Risen Lord returns to glory. Salvation would not be complete if the entire body, associated with its head, did not participate in this return home, in this final possibility of life in the communion of love with God.
But because we can ascend to the Father, because our life can be Eucharist, we need the Holy Spirit. This is why the Easter season ends with Pentecost, with the heart gift of the resurrected life of the Son to humanity, which becomes in us the first fruit and advance of that life in glory, which is our final destiny, our inheritance: with Pentecost our Ascension to the Father has begun..
The Gospel of today’s Liturgy (Jn 15:26-27; 16:12-15) tells us something about the work of the Spirit in us. Jesus, before His Passion, speaks at length with His disciples and, at a certain point, He claims to have many other things yet to be said; but He adds that, for now, the disciples are unable to bear the weight (Jn 15:5).
What man cannot do by himself?
Man, alone, cannot receive the gift of God because the gift is so great, so “weighty” that it requires a greater measure of heart. There is an “excess”, more life, that the Lord wants to give us, but that, we alone, cannot receive. This is the great drama of man.
In his solitude, man can find different solutions to this drama; he can be content with a mediocre life, inferior to his vocation; he can trust his own strengths, his own gifts, and seek life within himself; he can fill the void with what he has; or, he can despair. All these are streets without an exit. There is something we cannot achieve by our intelligence alone, by our wealth, let alone by power, by the use of force.
The Spirit is exactly the One who enables us to live a life worthy of the gift of God; He makes us capable of this “too much”, of this more. He comes right where we, alone, cannot. And He does it from the within: not imposing on us a further burden, not asking for an extra effort. He leads us to the truth, which in the Gospel is never an idea, but always a person. The truth in the Gospel is nothing other than the gratuitous love that unites the Father and the Son, and into which we are called to enter, freely.
The Spirit leads us to this truth because He is the Truth. He is the gift par excellence. To accept this gift, there is perhaps just one condition: to be poor.
And the icon of poverty that opens to the Spirit is found in the concluding verses of today’s Gospel, where Jesus tells the style of life in the Trinity: the Spirit does not speak for Himself, but announces all that He has heard, without holding anything for Himself; the Son possesses nothing from Himself, except that what the Father gives Him; and the Father holds nothing back because He gives everything to the Son, and gives everything in the Son (Jn 16:13-15).
For us, then, it is a question of entering this perspective of a new existence, in which we live the gift we receive and learn to give everything.
This is the work of the Spirit in us, the work that makes us equal to the Son, and Who fulfills our life in His own trust, in His abandonment to the Father.