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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Dominum et vivificantem

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    • 5. Jesus of Nazareth, "Exalted" in the Holy Spirit
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5. Jesus of Nazareth, "Exalted" in the Holy Spirit


19. Even though in his hometown of Nazareth Jesus is not accepted as the Messiah, nonetheless, at the beginning of his public activity, his messianic mission in the Holy Spirit is revealed to the people by John the Baptist. The latter, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, foretells at the Jordan the coming of the Messiah and administers the baptism of repentance. He says: "I baptize you with water; he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."65 John the Baptist foretells the Messiah-Christ not only as the one who "is coming" in the Holy Spirit but also as the one who "brings" the Holy Spirit, as Jesus will reveal more clearly in the Upper Room. Here John faithfully echoes the words of Isaiah, words which in the ancient Prophet concerned the future, while in John's teaching on the banks of the Jordan they are the immediate introduction to the new messianic reality. John is not only a prophet but also a messenger: he is the precursor of Christ. What he foretells is accomplished before the eyes of all. Jesus of Nazareth too comes to the Jordan to receive the baptism of repentance. At the sight of him arriving, John proclaims: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."66 He says this through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,67 bearing witness to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. At the same time he confesses his faith in the redeeming mission of Jesus of Nazareth. On the lips of John the Baptist, "Lamb of God" is an expression of truth about the Redeemer no less significant than the one used by Isaiah: "Servant of the Lord."

Thus, by the testimony of John at the Jordan, Jesus of Nazareth, rejected by his own fellow-citizens, is exalted before the eyes of Israel as the Messiah, that is to say the "One Anointed" with the Holy Spirit. And this testimony is corroborated by another testimony of a higher order, mentioned by the three Synoptics. For when all the people were baptized and as Jesus, having received baptism, was praying, "the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove"68 and at the same time "a voice from heaven said 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'"69

This is a Trinitarian theophany which bears witness to the exaltation of Christ on the occasion of his baptism in the Jordan. It not only confirms the testimony of John the Baptist but also reveals another more profound dimension of the truth about Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah. It is this: the Messiah is the beloved Son of the Father. His solemn exaltation cannot be reduced to the messianic mission of the "Servant of the Lord." In the light of the theophany at the Jordan, this exaltation touches the mystery of the very person of the Messiah. He has been raised up because he is the beloved Son in whom God is well pleased. The voice from on high says: "my Son."


20. The theophany at the Jordan clarifies only in a fleeting way the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, whose entire activity will be carried out in the active presence of the Holy Spirit.70 This mystery would be gradually revealed and confirmed by Jesus himself by means of everything that he "did and taught."71 In the course of this teaching and of the messianic signs which Jesus performed before he came to the farewell discourse in the Upper Room, we find events and words which constitute particularly important stages of this progressive revelation. Thus the evangelist Luke, who has already presented Jesus as "full of the Holy Spirit" and "led by the the wilderness,"72 tells us that, after the return of the seventy-two disciples from the mission entrusted to them by the Master,73 while they were joyfully recounting the fruits of their labors, "in that same hour [Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said: 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was your gracious will.'"74 Jesus rejoices at the fatherhood of God: he rejoices because it has been given to him to reveal this fatherhood; he rejoices, finally, as at a particular outpouring of this divine fatherhood on the "little ones." And the evangelist describes all this as "rejoicing in the Holy Spirit."

This "rejoicing" in a certain sense prompts Jesus to say still more. We hear: "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."75


21. That which during the theophany at the Jordan came so to speak "from outside," from on high, here comes "from within," that is to say from the depths of who Jesus is. It is another revelation of the Father and the Son, united in the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks only of the fatherhood of God and of his own sonship - he does not speak directly of the Spirit, who is Love and thereby the union of the Father and the Son. Nonetheless what he says of the Father and of himself - the Son-flows from that fullness of the Spirit which is in him, which fills his heart, pervades his own "I," inspires and enlivens his action from the depths. Hence that "rejoicing in the Holy Spirit." The union of Christ with the Holy Spirit, a union of which he is perfectly aware, is expressed in that "rejoicing," which in a certain way renders "perceptible" its hidden source. Thus there is a particular manifestation and rejoicing which is proper to the Son of Man, the Christ-Messiah, whose humanity belongs to the person of the Son of God, substantially one with the Holy Spirit in divinity.

In the magnificent confession of the fatherhood of God, Jesus of Nazareth also manifests himself, his divine "I"- for he is the Son "of the same substance," and therefore "no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son," that Son who "for us and for our salvation" became man by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of a virgin whose name was Mary.


65. Lk 3:16; cf. Mt 3:11; Mk 1:7f.; Jn 1:33 .

66. Jn 1:29.

67. Cf. Jn 1:33f.

68. Lk 3:21f.; cf. Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10.

69. Mt 3:17.

70. Cf. St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, XVI, 39: PG 32, 139.

71. Acts 1:1.

72. Cf. Lk 4:1.

73. Cf. Lk 10:17-20.

74. Lk 10:21; cf. Mt 11:25f.

75. Lk 10:22; cf. Mt 11:27.

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