2nd Sun [A] 1996

Fr. Charles Irvin

Isaiah 49:5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-39

Spirit denotes breath, courage, vigor, enthusiasm, loyalty, frame of mind, disposition, mood and temper. The spirit of a living being is its life-principle, its animating principle, its inner reality. What is spirit is non-corporeal and distinct from what is made of materials. Spirits can be supernatural, such as angels or demons; spirits can be ghostly and haunting. In chemistry and in pharmacy, spirits are strong fluids like alcohol, turpentine and ether. A person with spirit is one who encourages others, or cheers them up. A person with spirit is lively and energetic. All of these ideas are found in dictionaries to describe the word “spirit”. Athletes are said to be spirited. Thus we say that Alan Trammel and Lou Whittaker of the Detroit Tigers have “good baseball spirit”. By that we mean that they know baseball and love baseball.

The things of the spirit are, therefore, the things of the mind and the heart combined. The things of the spirit engage and unite both the intellectual and the emotional side of us, our emotional feelings as well as our intellectual concepts. Soul music is of the spirit. Religion, worship, prayer, and our relational lives with others comprise our spirituality.

Taking all that I have just described to you into account, we can now glimpse into what Jesus is all about. Jesus of Nazareth was anointed by God in the Spirit to become the Christ of glory. The word “Christ” means “The Anointed One”, the Jesus of Nazareth whom the Father anointed in His Spirit in order to bring His mind and heart to us, along with God’s own vitality and life. And not only to bring God’s inner life to us, but to make it a part of us, to infuse His Spirit into our all too human nature in order that we might be Christened, made like Jesus Christ in His mind and in His heart.

The world thinks of the Church as a political and social institution constructed by human beings in order to politically impose its values on others. The world thinks that the Church is a voluntary association of men and women who have banded together to form a supra-national corporation through which they might conduct their business in the surrounding world. The world thinks that the Church is a human institution, made by human hands, for very human purposes, and that therefore the Church is subject to the laws, whims, opinion polls, and legalities of this world.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that the Church is nothing less than that the Spirit-filled, resurrected humanity of Jesus Christ through which He remains present to us in order to hand over and infuse into us God’s mind and God’s heart, God’s Holy Spirit.

Thus it is that Jesus of Nazareth was born of a Spirit-filled woman, Mary. Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary not by Joseph, her husband, but by God the Holy Spirit in order that the humanity of Jesus might be God’s Anointed humanity, God’s Spirit-filled humanity, into which we may join ourselves in a Holy Communion so that we might become, by God’s love and grace, an integral part of His Spirit-filled humanity and thereby return in Christ to our Father in heaven.

Holy Scripture thematically repeats this reality over and over and over again. Jesus is conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit leads and guides Joseph and Mary’s decisions and directions in life.

Jesus of Nazareth is baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan river, immersed in the watery womb of Mother Earth, in order to rise up in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. His total immersion, His total baptism comes in His passion, death and resurrection, the baptism which He told His apostles he longed for and yearned to receive.

From His Cross, He hands over His spirit to us, thus inaugurating Pentecost.

The humanity of Jesus of Nazareth is raised up from this “immersion”, Spirit-filled now, glorious and victorious over sin and death.

And finally, Christ, the Son of God along with His Father in heaven, pour out their Holy Spirit upon us not only in the Sacrament of Confirmation but in all of His Sacraments of the Church.

Spirit denotes breath, courage, vigor, enthusiasm, loyalty, frame of mind, disposition, mood and temper. The spirit of a living being is its life-principle, its animating principle, its inner reality. What is spirit is non-corporeal and distinct from what is made of materials. A person with spirit is one who encourages others, or cheers them up. A person with spirit is lively and energetic.

All of these words and phrases are used in dictionaries to describe the word “spirit”. They are also quite apt words and phrases to describe what Jesus, risen now as the Christ of Spirit-filled glory, gives to us in the Sacraments of His Church.

And we make those words and phrases real. We make them mean something for those around us. We, in Christ, become ANIMATORS, men and women, old and young, who charge God’s world in His Spirit, who fill the hearts and souls of those around us with the Presence of God’s Holy Spirit, who comes to us in Christ Jesus, not only that we might save our own souls, but that we might fill the lives of those around us with the very Mind and Heart of God.

What a life and what a task, O Christian, is yours!

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”