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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Dominum et vivificantem

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    • 2. Father, Son and Holy Spirit
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2. Father, Son and Holy Spirit


8. It is a characteristic of the text of John that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are clearly called Persons, the first distinct from the second and the third, and each of them from one another. Jesus speaks of the Spirit-Counselor, using several times the personal pronoun "he"; and at the same time, throughout the farewell discourse, he reveals the bonds which unite the Father, the Son and the Paraclete to one another. Thus "the Holy Spirit . . .proceeds from the Father"28 and the Father "gives" the Spirit.29 The Father "sends" the Spirit in the name of the Son,30 the Spirit "bears witness" to the Son.31 The Son asks the Father to send the Spirit-Counselor,32 but likewise affirms and promises, in relation to his own "departure" through the Cross: "If I go, I will send him to you,"33 Thus, the Father sends the Holy Spirit in the power of his Fatherhood, as he has sent the Son34; but at the same time he sends him in the power of the Redemption accomplished by Christ - and in this sense Holy Spirit is sent also by the Son: "I will send him to you."

Here it should be noted that, while all the other promises made in the Upper Room foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit after Christ's departure, the one contained in the text of John 16:7f. also includes and clearly emphasizes the relationship of interdependence which could be called causal between the manifestation of each: "If I go, I will send him to you." The Holy Spirit will come insofar as Christ will depart through the Cross: he will come not only afterwards, but because of the Redemption accomplished by Christ, through the will and action of the Father.


9. Thus in the farewell discourse at the Last Supper, we can say that the highest point of the revelation of the Trinity is reached At the same time, we are on the threshold of definitive events and final words which in the end will be translated into the great missionary mandate addressed to the Apostles and through them to the Church: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations," a mandate which contains, in a certain sense, the Trinitarian formula of baptism: "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."35 The formula reflects the intimate mystery of God, of the divine life, which is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the divine unity of the Trinity. The farewell discourse can be read as a special preparation for this Trinitarian formula, in which is expressed the life-giving power of the Sacrament which brings about sharing in the life of the Triune God, for it gives sanctifying grace as a supernatural gift to man. Through grace, man is called and made "capable" of sharing in the inscrutable life of God.


10. In his intimate life, God "is love,"36 the essential love shared by the three divine Persons: personal love is the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Therefore he "searches even the depths of God,"37 as uncreated Love-Gift. It can be said that in the Holy Spirit the intimate life of the Triune God becomes totally gift, an exchange of mutual love between the divine Persons and that through the Holy Spirit God exists in the mode of gift. It is the Holy Spirit who is the personal expression of this self-giving, of this being-love.38 He is Person-Love. He is Person-Gift Here we have an inexhaustible treasure of the reality and an inexpressible deepening of the concept of person in God, which only divine Revelation makes known to us.

At the same time, the Holy Spirit, being consubstantial with the Father and the Son in divinity, is love and uncreated gift from which derives as from its source (fons vivus) all giving of gifts vis-a-vis creatures (created gift): the gift of existence to all things through creation; the gift of grace to human beings through the whole economy of salvation. As the Apostle Paul writes: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to US."39


28. Jn 15:26.

29. Jn 14:16.

30. Jn 14:26.

31. Jn 15:26.

32. Jn 14:16.

33. Jn 16:7.

34. Cf. Jn 3:16f., 34; 6:57; 17:3, 18, 23.

35. Mt 28:19.

36. Cf. 1 Jn 4:8, 16.

37. Cf. 1 Cor 2:10.

38. Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theo. Ia, qq. 37-38.

39. Rom 5:5.

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