Sunday, May 31, 2020

Know your friend

Sermon for Whitsunday

We hear the rushing wind. We see the tongues of fire. We see the Church born as the breath of Our Lord Jesus Christ breathed in Easter Day ignites and changes the world forever.

We see the effects of the Holy Ghost. We We hear St Paul tell us of the war between the flesh and the spirit. But do we know what this Holy Spirit is?


Yes we can all recite our creeds and enjoy the faith that they express: we know that the Holy Spirit is fully God and yet is neither Father not Son, but this doesn't really answer the question. To see Jesus is to see the Father, but not the Holy Ghost. What kind of being is the Holy Ghost?


To understand this, we have to go back to Good Friday at its most awful and, at the same time, at the moment of greatest triumph. All four Gospels agree on one thing, when Jesus dies, He gives up the ghost.

Of course, Jesus dies only in His humanity. It is His human spirit, His human ghost, that leaves His body. This tells us a lot about ourselves. We have a spirit and this spirit is not the same as our soul.

What's the difference?

The spirit is to the soul as the breath is to the throat.

If we understand that the soul is what it means to be us - our us-ness - then it is the spirit that expresses that us-ness.

If the Holy Ghost is like the breath of God then He carries with Him all that God wants to express. Jesus is the Word of God and a word needs breath to be spoken. And so Jesus is conceived in the body of the Blessed Virgin by the Holy Ghost. 

Thus the Holy Spirit is the bringer of life to humanity for Our Lord breathes His Life into us. But Jesus says that He is the Life, and St John says that God is a spirit. Thus God is His own Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God.


St Paul and St John both say that we must live spiritual lives. The Life of the Spirit is at war with the Life of the Flesh. This does not mean that we must hate our bodies, but rather love them more by not allowing them to rule our lives. The Life of the Flesh is what our body lives when we say that we have neither soul nor spirit. The Life of the Flesh is like sailing a ship without a rudder in a storm and hoping that we will end up at our destination. The Life of the Spirit is to hold our rudder firm and directed to the light in the darkness of the storm. The Life of the Spirit is to recognise the direction of the Holy Ghost. 

It is important to remember that the Holy Ghost does not contradict what we read in Holy Scripture or in the Church's doctrine because He gives it to us. If the Holy Ghost gives us God's grace and the Holy Ghost is the expression of Who God is, then this tells us what Grace really is. Grace is God's active presence in our lives. 

To live the Life of the Spirit is to live lives of grace and sacrament. It is to allow the Spirit to take direction and lead us into Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness and Temperance. 


In this battle between Flesh and Spirit, it isn't our enemy that we need to know: it is our friend. The Friend is always with us: we just need to ask Him for help. This Friend is God Himself.

No comments: