THE UNDERAPPRECIATED ADVOCATE: Psalms 103:2
Brothers and Sisters,
The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, as I prefer) is the most underappreciated person of the Most Holy Trinity. God the Father is always a big deal for Old Testament actions and miracles; Christ, of course, as God the Son, gets the big Holy Days of Christmas and Easter. The Holy Spirit, however, seems to always be the forgotten member of the Godhead.
It took Christianity more than a few centuries to understand Who the Holy Spirit is and what He does. In fact, the first Creed of the Church (from the Council of Nicea) was only able to say one thing about the Holy Spirit: that He exists. Before His Ascension back into Heaven, Christ promised that He and the Father would send the Holy Spirit. In Biblical times and in the years immediately following, Christians could only seem to discern the Holy Spirit in His effects, through His works; this is often referred to as the wind-effect. We cannot see the wind precisely, but we can see its effects: it pushes branches, waves flags, fills sails, and throws dirt across entire fields. In a similar way, the early Christians saw the Holy Spirit in His impact on the world – that’s how they knew the Holy Spirit.
Sure, the Holy Spirit exists, but what has He done for me lately? A huge clue to the immense importance of the Holy Ghost is from the First Letter of Saint Peter, who calls Him “the Spirit of Glory” (1 Peter 4:14). Most often in the Bible, “glory” refers to an event in-which a slice of Heaven is made present on Earth; for example, Moses pleads with God the Father “please, let me see Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). So, in using the word “glory,” Saint Peter is telling us that the Holy Spirit brings about Heaven on Earth, gives us a taste of the delights of eternal life while we are still here below. Now that’s something special. Those are the works of the Holy Spirit.
Christ calls the Holy Spirit “the Advocate” (see John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, and 16:7). This title for the Holy Spirit demonstrates His immeasurable standing. The very word of Christ we read as “advocate” comes from the Latin “ad vocatus,” meaning: the One Who is called to my side. No we can really see how this nebulous “spirit” is beginning to take shape: the Holy Spirit is the One Who is ‘called to my side.’ The Holy Spirit is our patron, giving us the means to live. The Holy Spirit is our champion, giving us our courage to act as Christians in good works. The Holy Spirit is our advocate, Who invigorates our conscious and stirs us to prayer and desire for Heaven.
From here, we see how the Holy Spirit takes on all His other titles: the consoler (or ‘paraclete’ in First John 16:13), and the Spirit of: Truth (John 16:13), adoption (Romans 8:15 and Galatian 4:6), Christ (Romans 8:9), the Lord (Second Corinthians 3:17), and of God (Romans 8:9, 8:14, and 15:19; First Corinthians 6:11 and 7:40) . . . I could go on further, but I think you can see the point. The Holy Spirit is not a “leftover” or a smaller piece of God. Rather, He is the One Who gave a voice and inspiration to the Prophets, Who instilled bravery to all the martyrs, and Who gives us even now a chance to be great saints.
From the beginning, the Holy Spirit was hard at work; at the dawn of creation He breathed upon the waters of the Earth (Genesis 1:2), the Holy Spirit came upon Saint John the Baptist long before Saint Elizabeth gave birth (Luke 1:15), Blessed Mother was even “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:25), the Holy Spirit appeared in a visible form many times in Christ’s earthly life (Matthew 3:16, to name just one of many), and even to this very moment Almighty God is near – even at our side – as the Holy Spirit.
God being forever near is the strength of all the saints, the hope of all the martyrs, and it is our own brawn and toughness even now. I shudder to think how Christianity would fare without constant prayer to the Holy Spirit. So I pray for all humanity: “Your Holy Spirit take not from me” (Psalms 51:13) and: come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love; send forth Your Spirit and renew of the face of the Earth.
Happy Pentecost! Do not forget the works of the Lord (cf. Psalms 103:2).
God be near,