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Ioannes Paulus PP. II
Dominum et vivificantem

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    • 6. The Risen Christ Says: "Receive the Holy Spirit"
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6. The Risen Christ Says: "Receive the Holy Spirit"


22. It is thanks to Luke's narrative that we are brought closest to the truth contained in the discourse in the Upper Room. Jesus of Nazareth, "raised up" in the Holy Spirit, during this discourse and conversation presents himself as the one who brings the Spirit, as the one who is to bring him and "give" him to the Apostles and to the Church at the price of his own "departure" through the Cross.

The verb "bring" is here used to mean first of all "reveal." In the Old Testament, from the Book of Genesis onwards, the Spirit of God was in some way made known, in the first place as a "breath" of God which gives life, as a supernatural "living breath." In the Book of Isaiah, he is presented as a "gift" for the person of the Messiah, as the one who comes down and rests upon him, in order to guide from within all the salvific activity of the "Anointed One." At the Jordan, Isaiah's proclamation is given a concrete form: Jesus of Nazareth is the one who comes in the Holy Spirit and who brings the Spirit as the gift proper to his own Person, in order to distribute that gift by means of this humanity: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."76 In the Gospel of Luke, this revelation of the Holy Spirit is confirmed and added to, as the intimate source of the life and messianic activity of Jesus Christ. In the light of what Jesus says in the farewell discourse in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit is revealed in a new and fuller way. He is not only the gift to the person (the person of the Messiah), but is a Person-gift. Jesus foretells his coming as that of "another Counselor" who, being the Spirit of truth, will lead the Apostles and the Church "into all the truth."77 This will be accomplished by reason of the particular communion between the Holy Spirit and Christ: "He will take what is mine and declare it to you."78 This communion has its original source in the Father: "All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you."79 Coming from the Father the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father.80 The Holy Spirit is first sent as a gift for the Son who was made man, in order to fulfill the messianic prophecies. After the "departure" of Christ the Son, the Johannine text says that the Holy Spirit "will come" directly (it is his new mission), to complete the work of the Son. Thus it will be he who brings to fulfillment the new era of the history of salvation.


23. We find ourselves on the threshold of the Paschal events. The new, definitive revelation of the Holy Spirit as a Person who is the gift is accomplished at this precise moment. The Paschal events - the Passion, Death and Resurrection - of Christ - are also the time of the new coming of the Holy Spirit, as the Paraclete and the Spirit of truth. They are the time of the "new beginning" of the self-communication of the Triune God to humanity in the Holy Spirit through the work of Christ the Redeemer. This new beginning is the Redemption of the world: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son."81 Already the "giving" of the Son, the gift of the Son, expresses the most profound essence of God who, as Love, is the inexhaustible source of the giving of gifts. The gift made by the Son completes the revelation and giving of the eternal love: the Holy Spirit, who in the inscrutable depths of the divinity is a Person-Gift, through the work of the Son, that is to say by means of the Paschal Mystery, is given to the Apostles and to the Church in a new way, and through them is given to humanity and the whole world.


24. The definitive expression of this mystery is had on the day of the Resurrection. On this day Jesus of Nazareth "descended from David according to the flesh," as the Apostle Paul writes, is "designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead."82 It can be said therefore that the messianic "raising up" of Christ in the Holy Spirit reaches its zenith in the Resurrection, in which he reveals himself also as the Son of God, "full of power." And this power, the sources of which gush forth in the inscrutable Trinitarian communion, is manifested, first of all, in the fact that the Risen Christ does two things: on the one hand he fulfills God's promise already expressed through the Prophet's words: "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, spirit"83; and on the other hand he fulfills his own promise made to the Apostles with the words: "If I go, I will send him to you."84 It is he: the Spirit of truth, the Paraclete sent by the Risen Christ to transform us into his own risen image.85

"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.' And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"86

All the details of this key-text of John's Gospel have their own eloquence, especially if we read them in reference to the words spoken in the same Upper Room at the beginning of the Paschal event. And now these events - the Triduum Sacrum of Jesus whom the Father consecrated with the anointing and sent into the world - reach their fulfillment. Christ, who "gave up his spirit" on the Cross87 as the Son of Man and the Lamb of God, once risen goes to the Apostles 'to breathe on them" with that power spoken of in the Letter to the Romans.88 The Lord's coming fills those present with joy: "Your sorrow will turn into joy,"89 as he had already promised them before his Passion. And above all there is fulfilled the principal prediction of the farewell discourse: the Risen Christ, as it were beginning a new creation, "brings" to the Apostles the Holy Spirit. He brings him at the price of his own "departure": he gives them this Spirit as it were through the wounds of his crucifixion: "He showed them his hands and his side." It is in the power of this crucifixion that he says to them: "Receive the Holy Spirit."

Thus there is established a close link between the sending of the Son and the sending of the Holy Spirit. There is no sending of the Holy Spirit (after original sin) without the Cross and the Resurrection: "If I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you."90 There is also established a close link between the mission of the Holy Spirit and that of the Son in the Redemption. The mission of the Son, in a certain sense, finds its "fulfillment" in the Redemption. The mission of the Holy Spirit "draws from" the Redemption: "He will take what is mine and declare it to you."91 The Redemption is totally carried out by the Son as the Anointed One, who came and acted in the power of the Holy Spirit, offering himself finally in sacrifice on the wood of the Cross. And this Redemption is, at the same time, constantly carried out in human hearts and minds - in the history of the world - by the Holy Spirit, who is the "other Counselor. "


76. Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16.

77. Jn 16:13.

78. Jn 16:14.

79. Jn 16:15.

80. Cf. Jn 14:26; 15:26.

81. Jn 3:16.

82. Rom 1:3f.

83. Ez 36:26f.; cf. Jn 7:37-39; 19:34.

84. Jn 16:7.

85. St. Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, Bk. V, Ch. II: PG 73, 755.

86. Jn 20:19-22.

87. Cf. Jn 19:30.

88. Cf. Rom 1:4.

89. Cf. Jn 16:20.

90. Jn 16:7.

91. Jn 16:15.

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