JUNE 12, 2011- PENTECOST SUNDAY - 1COR 12; 3-7,12-13; JOHN 20:19-23

NO ONE CAN SAY “JESUS IS LORD” EXCEPT IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.   Implied in this assertion made by Saint Paul to the Corinthians, is a whole theology of the spiritual life and, indeed, of the very nature of salvation. Of course, Paul means this statement to be an act of personal belief; he obviously does not have in mind that the mere recital of these words with the lips requires the concurrence of the Spirit of God. What he conveys by this statement is that the conviction of faith that Jesus is Lord is a supernatural act; a person cannot make such an affirmation from the heart except under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Such faith is a gift and uttering it is a sign of the active presence of the Spirit in the believer.

Paul makes this positive statement immediately after a negative one that points out that “no one speaking in the Spirit of God can say “Jesus is anathema.” The context in which he sets out this teaching is that of evaluating the behavior of those who at a meeting of the congregation, speak out under some interior impulse. Paul is giving norms by which to evaluate and judge such speech. Does it represent a gift of the Spirit of God or some aberration? In Corinth there had arisen some confusion concerning various practices that were creating tensions in the communal worship services. What are the indications that an individual is acting or speaking in a manner that is pleasing to God?

Paul has no doubt that, even though some years have passed since the Holy Spirit was first sent on the community of believers, the same Spirit continues to come upon the community of believers and to act through and in them. He feels no need to raise this issue which is broadly accepted; rather, he details with considerable preciseness various practices that are not in keeping with the spiritual good of the community, and, as in the present text, sets out norms by which to form sound judgment as to the action of the Spirit. As he concludes these comments he points out that “All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit.”

The Lord Jesus, as the Gospel we have just heard informs us, after his resurrection, appeared to his disciples and commissioned them to go forth and carry on his mission. To empower them for this spiritual undertaking John tells us “He breathed on them and said “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In his letter to the Corinthians Paul takes it for granted that this transmission of the Spirit was not limited to those present on that resurrection day when the Lord imparted the Spirit, but that all who believe and profess that Jesus is Lord have been gifted with the Spirit of God. In a later letter to the same Corinthians Paul makes explicit a fundamental consequence of being in the Spirit and witnessing to Jesus as Lord. He writes that “If one is in Christ he is a new creature.” (2 Cor 5:17) The Spirit imparted by Christ, sent from the Father, is a creative energy that makes accessible to us a power that, while hidden, is more real and sublime than any other force in this world. It allows us to participate already in the new world that God is preparing for an eternal existence. In receiving the Holy Spirit, in consenting to his movements within us, and placing our trusting confidence in truths he makes known to us in Christ, we already become participants in the New Creation being prepared by God for his eternal kingdom. Convinced on these truths, then, and grateful for the faith given us, let us prove worthy of them by lives of trusting fidelity, and thank the Father, the Son and the Spirit for giving us a share in the work of building his New Creation in the Holy Spirit.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

Go to index page