MAY 28, 2003, HOMILY- ACTS 17:22-18:1; JOHN 16: 12- 15

I STILL HAVE MANY THINGS TO SAY TO YOU....WHEN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH COMES HE WILL LEAD YOU TO THE COMPLETE TRUTH. This text contains an essential lesson for all of us who are seeking God. Loving knowledge of God and so, union with him, is possible only to those who are led by God’s Holy Spirit. The Father seeks those who worship him in Spirit and in truth, Jesus said elsewhere. The truth concerning God’s existence as person is within the power of reason to arrive at. However, to live by this truth and to adhere to God in a personal union is beyond human powers. In order to adhere to God grace is essential. St. Paul in today’s first reading refers to the limits of human knowledge concerning God when he tells the Athenians that "the God whom I proclaim is in fact the one whom you already worship without knowing it." Only revelation permits man to name the true and living God, even though reasons can lead one to follow, with the help of grace, the light of truth in a way adequate for salvation.

Jesus had many occasions to discover by experience how greatly dependent people are upon the light and strength of the Holy Spirit to grasp the fuller knowledge concerning God and to fulfill his will when it is made known to us. The consequences of this fact are of the greatest significance for us all and a source of hope. For one thing it means that our knowledge of God does not depend on our natural gifts so much as upon the sincerity and purity of our faith and desire. What we gain from our spiritual reading results much more from the purity of our desire to know and serve God than on our learning or natural penetration. Jesus had already preached that God reveals himself to the lowly and humble not to the learned and wise of this world. The measure of our union with God, then, is not bounded by our human limitations or measured by our natural gifts; it depends upon the degree to which we open our hearts to the gift of his Spirit.

The gift of the Spirit is essential then for our purification and spiritual health. But his activity within us is not automatic. There will always remain the great mystery of our freedom and its relation to grace and the operations of the Spirit within us. Our cooperation with the promptings and enlightenment given by the Spirit depends upon our choice, made in freedom. We are assisted in making the right decision by recalling that we are not left to ourselves. Jesus has expressly said that the Father will not refuse to give his Spirit to those who desire him and ask for this favor. As we prepare to celebrate the Ascension of Jesus tomorrow, we are reminded that before he departed for his place at the right hand of the Father he made this promise to send his Holy Spirit to encourage us. May we experience the fulfillment of this promise already today and every day in the form of an ever stronger determination to be faithful to him. And may our resolution serve as a firm bond of love uniting our will to that of the Father . For he who would know and love God must be wholly devoted to do his will. The only true knowledge of God is the knowledge of pure love, that is nothing else than union with God himself in the Holy Spirit.

  Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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