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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Dominum et vivificantem

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    • 3. The Salvific Self-Giving of God in the Holy Spirit
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3. The Salvific Self-Giving of God in the Holy Spirit


11. Christ's farewell discourse at the Last Supper stands in particular reference to this "giving" and "self-giving" of the Holy Spirit. In John's Gospel we have as it were the revelation of the most profound "logic" of the saving mystery contained in God's eternal plan, as an extension of the ineffable communion of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the divine "logic" which from the mystery of the Trinity leads to the mystery of the Redemption of the world in Jesus Christ. The Redemption accomplished by the Son in the dimensions of the earthly history of humanity - accomplished in his "departure" through the Cross and Resurrection - is at the same time, in its entire salvific power, transmitted to the Holy Spirit: the one who "will take what is mine."40 The words of the text of John indicate that, according to the divine plan, Christ's "departure" is an indispensable condition for the "sending" and the coming of the Holy Spirit, but these words also say that what begins now is the new salvific self-giving of God, in the Holy Spirit.


12. It is a new beginning in relation to the first, original beginning of God's salvific self-giving, which is identified with the mystery of creation itself. Here is what we read in the very first words of the Book of Genesis: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..., and the Spirit of God (ruah Elohim) was moving over the face of the waters."41 This biblical concept of creation includes not only the call to existence of the very being of the cosmos, that is to say the giving of existence, but also the presence of the Spirit of God in creation, that is to say the beginning of God's salvific self-communication to the things he creates. This is true first of all concerning man, who has been created in the image and likeness of God: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."42 "Let us make": can one hold that the plural which the Creator uses here in speaking of himself already in some way suggests the Trinitarian mystery, the presence of the Trinity in the work of the creation of man? The Christian reader, who already knows the revelation of this mystery, can discern a reflection of it also in these words. At any rate, the context of the Book of Genesis enables us to see in the creation of man the first beginning of God's salvific self-giving commensurate with the "image and likeness" of himself which he has granted to man.


13. It seems then that even the words spoken by Jesus in the farewell discourse should be read again in the light of that "beginning," so long ago yet fundamental, which we know from Genesis. "If I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." Describing his "departure" as a condition for the "coming" of the Counselor, Christ links the new beginning of God's salvific self-communication in the Holy Spirit with the mystery of the Redemption. It is a new beginning, first of all because between the first beginning and the whole of human history - from the original fall onwards - sin has intervened, sin which is in contradiction to the presence of the Spirit of God in creation, and which is above all in contradiction to God's salvific self-communication to man. St. Paul writes that, precisely because of sin, "creation...was subjected to futility..., has been groaning in travail together until now" and "waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."43


14. Therefore Jesus Christ says in the Upper Room "It is to your advantage I go away; ...if I go, I will send him to you."44 The "departure" of Christ through the Cross has the power of the Redemption - and this also means a new presence of the Spirit of God in creation: the new beginning of God's self-communication to man in the Holy Spirit. "And that you are children is proven by the fact that God has sent into our hearts the Spirit of his Son who cries: Abba, Father!" As the Apostle Paul writes in the Letter to the Galatians.45 The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father, as the words of the farewell discourse in the Upper Room bear witness. At the same time he is the Spirit of the Son: he is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, as the Apostles and particularly Paul of Tarsus will testify.46 With the sending of this Spirit "into our hearts," there begins the fulfillment of that for which "creation waits with eager longing," as we read in the Letter to the Romans.

The Holy Spirit comes at the price of Christ's "departure." While this "departure" caused the Apostles to be sorrowful,47 and this sorrow was to reach its culmination in the Passion and Death on Good Friday, "this sorrow will turn into joy."48 For Christ will add to this redemptive "departure" the glory of his Resurrection and Ascension to the Father. Thus the sorrow with its underlying joy is, for the Apostles in the context of their Master's "departure," an "advantageous" departure, for thanks to it another "Counselor" will come.49 At the price of the Cross which brings about the Redemption, in the power of the whole Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes in order to remain from the day of Pentecost onwards with the Apostles, to remain with the Church and in the Church, and through her in the world.

In this way there is definitively brought about that new beginning of the self-communication of the Triune God in the Holy Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man and of the world.


40. Jn 16:14.

41. Gen 1:1f.

42. Gen 1:26.

43. Rom 8:19-22.

44. Jn 16:7.

45. Gal 4:6; cf. Rom 8:15.

46. Cf. Gal 4:6; Phil 1:19; Rom 8:11.

47. Cf. Jn 16:6.

48. Cf. Jn 16:20.

49. Cf. Jn 16:7.

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