by Protopresbyter fr. George D. Metallinos (+ 19-12-2019)
Professor Emeritus of the Athens University School of Theology
25. THE ADVENT OF THE PARACLETE
“...and all were replete with the Holy Spirit...”
During the Last Supper, our Lord gave His Disciples several seemingly strange promises: “....I shall come again, and shall take you with Me, so that where I am, you shall be...” and then “I shall not leave you orphaned; I shall come to you” (John14:3). Those promises were fulfilled, on the day of the Pentecost, when Christ (together with the Father) came once again to dwell among His faithful, in the Holy Spirit. Christ’s presence within History was to continue, with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Man would thereafter be guided, through the Holy Spirit, to Christ and to salvation. That is why the Pentecost has a unique significance, for the world and for History.
«Life and life-giving»
The Holy Spirit (the Paraclete), true God and eternal, as are the Father and the Son, of course does not appear for the first time in the history of the world on the day of the Pentecost. Being a divine Person, the Holy Spirit has always existed. “...For He always was, and is, and will be, neither begun nor ceased”, according to Saint Gregory the Theologian. However, from the very first moment of Creation, the Holy Spirit appears as a life-giver: “The Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit, does everything”, according to Athanasius the Great. From the beginning of Creation, it is the Holy Spirit Who contains and sustains Creation (Gen.1:1), Who vivifies the first-fashioned man (Gen.2:7) and thereafter illuminates the Holy Men of the Old Testament (2 Pet.2:21). But He is again actively present, during the re-creation and re-birth of the world and gives it life. He “supervenes” upon the Virgin Maria and “overshadows” Her, so that the human nature of the New Adam – the Patriarch of the new mankind, the God-human Saviour of the world would be “begotten” (received incarnate life) within Her sanctified womb. Thus, on the day of the Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is perceived as a “violent breath” which animated and vivified the communal body of Christ – His Church – and thereafter remained among His Faithful (“He remains with you, and is within you”, John 14:7).
The Holy Spirit therefore appears in the Holy Bible as the source of every life form. Creation comes into being in the Holy Spirit. Biological life commences in the Holy Spirit, as does spiritual life: that is, the communion of man with God. It is in the Holy Spirit that Christ is “begotten”, “of the Virgin”. It is in the Holy Spirit that the world is reborn-recreated within the Church and is led to the Life of God, to communion with Him. That is why the Holy Spirit is named “Life Provider” in a prayer of the Church.
«Light and provider of light»
The Holy Spirit not only enlivens, but also illuminates. He comes and dwells as “Light” within man and illuminates him, revealing the Divine Truth to him. God’s Truth is always witnessed “in glory”, within Holy-Spiritual illumination, even in the Old Testament. The final-apical stage of this divine glory was the Pentecost. That was when Christ’s words to the Apostles were fulfilled: “...and you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5; cmp. Matth. 3:12).
Just as man is immersed whole into water during his baptism, likewise on the day of the Pentecost the Disciples “all were filled with the Holy Spirit”. They who were in the upper room in Jerusalem were all bathed completely in the revelatory light of the Holy Spirit.
That was when all those words by Christ were fulfilled, which John the Evangelist preserved: It is within the Light of the Holy Spirit that the disciples would find out that Christ is “in the Father”, the disciples are in Christ, and Christ in them. They were to acquire the experience of sensing the presence of Christ within them (14:20). They were to see Christ after His Ascension, because Christ lives, and they will live with Him (14:19).
Christ will reveal Himself to whoever loves Him (14:21), and He will come and dwell within him, together with the Father (14:23). The Holy Spirit will teach the Disciples “all things” and will remind them of all that Christ had told them (14:26). The “Spirit of Truth” will lead them “to all of the Truth”. The Holy Spirit will not “utter of His own accord”, because He will take from Christ and will announce (16:13-16).
It is for this reason that the event of the Pentecost is the supreme Holy-Spiritual experience of the Church, in which all the Saints partake with their illumination, throughout the ages. This means that the Church does not gradually progress to a fuller knowledge or understanding of the Truth, but rather, every authentic faithful is guided by the Spirit “to all of the Truth” at every point in History, by partaking in the event of the Pentecost.
«He assembles in whole the institution of the Church»
We refer to the Pentecost as the birth day of the Church, because it was on that day that the “body of Christ” came together as an in-Christ community: the Church. In His hieratic prayer, Christ had asked of the Father: “Father, those who You gave me, I want that wherever I am, they too be with Me, so that they may look upon My glory...” (John 17:24). The place for meeting and uniting of all those who love the Father is the deified human nature of Christ. When one becomes a true member of Christ’s body in the Holy Spirit by attaining theosis-deification, they are rendered a Temple of God, because God dwells within them. The Church is assembled as the body of Christ on the day of the Pentecost, because Christ’s human nature is present, and Christ is united with every member of His body. The whole Christ is found, undivided, within each member.
Thus, the heavenward ascended Christ returns, in the Holy Spirit, in order to continue living in a new manner of presence in the world, so that He can live wholly, within each and every one of His faithful, and keep them all united in one, undivided body. This salvific procedure is to be incessantly activated by the Holy Spirit, in Whose grace man is cleansed to become His Temple (1 Cor.6:19), to restore the remembrance of God as a noetic prayer within him, and to finally reach theosis. The Mysteries of the Church, Her poemantic and sanctifying opus, will be taking place with the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church’s sermon and Her mission will take place in the Holy Spirit, because it is the Spirit Who will be “uttering” with the mouths of the ministers of the Truth, as it was then, with the Apostles (Acts 2:4).
It is also with the power of the Spirit that the hearts of those listening to sermons will open, making them feel His absence (cmp. Matth. 5:3). The Holy Spirit will be distributing charismas for the edification and the increment of the Lord’s Body. The Holy Spirit will render the Church “God’s realm” – His own realm – while also determining Her communal ethos.
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