He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14: 21-26)
Years ago, while preparing a group of teenagers for Confirmation, one of the most talkative and brightest students raised his hand and said: “You know, I am supposed to step forward and be confirmed, but I still don’t get this part about the Holy Spirit. I just don’t understand.”
I remembered this passage from scripture and read it. I used it to discuss the magnitude of the love that God has for us and for the gift of his love manifest in the Holy Spirit.
Saint Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love. God’s love for each of us is as real and tangible as the love of a mother for her child and the love of a lover who gives all for his beloved. God made us in love for love – to know him personally and to grow in the knowledge of his great love for us and to love him in return. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) and love is listed first among the fruits of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
God who gave His son for our salvation also gives us the living presence of His Spirit within us.
Because God’s Spirit is the Spirit of love. God’s Spirit can animate our hearts with the power of loving. When love seems impossible, the Spirit can infuse us with the gift of divine love, the very love of the Father and Son. Then, with the Spirit’s help and guidance, we can love one another and live as the body of Christ.
If faith looks backward to Christ’s resurrection and hope looks forward to Christ’s return, love is the very present life of Christ’s body. Love never ends (1 Cor 13:8). The promise towards which we strain is the promise to see God face to face. God’s love is both the goal and the means by which we attain it. Those who live in love abide in God (1 John 4:16).
As Christians, we look back on the victory of Christ’s resurrection and we look forward to the final triumph of God. The Spirit is our guarantee of God’s activity and promise. The Spirit is the first installment of God’s kingdom, enabling us to live in faith, hope, and love.
Years later, I knew this student as an Army officer and a proud and loving husband and father. In our conversation, he reminded me of that class and added: “To this day, when I want to grow in my love and act in His name, I remember the Holy Spirit in me. The Spirit is my constant companion. I have learned to ask for strength and guidance because my asking actualizes my relationship with the Holy Spirit and opens my heart to allow the Spirit to work within me.”
When he finished, I smiled ruefully and thanked him for the teaching he had just giving me.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, in love you created me and you drew me to yourself. May I never lose sight of you nor forget your steadfast love and faithfulness. And may I daily dwell upon your word and give you praise in the sanctuary of my heart, You who are my All.
God’s Spirit is given to us to keep our hope alive. It is the Spirit who points us forward to the final victory which God has promised. Reminding us of Christ’s lordship, the Spirit strengthens us to persevere even in the presence of evil and death. Even when it seems that all is lost, the Spirit prompts us to hope for what we cannot see, waiting for God’s salvation with patient endurance (Rom 8:25).