lundi, mai 11, 2009

He will convince the world of sin

Sermon for the fourth Sunday after Easter
Our Lord prepares His Apostles for His departure: it is expedient to you that I go. If I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you. We read this text during paschaltide, in the context of the Resurrection and as a preparation to the mysteries of the Ascension and of Pentecost, but they were said during the Last Supper. The Apostles certainly did not understand the meaning of all the words of the Lord at this time, but they would understand when the Holy Spirit would come upon us. In the Chapter 14 of Saint John , Our Lord had already promised the Apostles that the Father will give them another Counselor and the Spirit of truth. He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Pope John Paul II in the Encyclical Letter Dominum et Vivificantem, says that the Holy Spirit is not only the Counselor of the Apostles, but of the whole Church. The words "he will teach" and "bring to remembrance" mean not only that he, will continue to inspire the spreading of the Gospel of salvation but also that he will help people to understand the correct meaning of the content of Christ's message; they mean that he will ensure continuity and identity of understanding in the midst of changing conditions and circumstances. The Holy Spirit, then, will ensure that in the Church there will always continue the same truth which the Apostles heard from their Master.
Our Lord says another Counselor, because He is Himself the first Counselor as He is the first bearer and giver of the Good News. There is an intimate bond, Pope John Paul II adds, between Christ and the Holy Spirit. In fact, The Holy Spirit continues the mission of Christ through His members: He teaches and bears witness as Jesus did during His life on earth, and that is precisely what the militant Church does on earth. The Holy Spirit has a very important mission in the Church and is like her soul. We will have the opportunity to meditate on this mystery in a few weeks.
But now, let us consider the mission of the Paraclete in the world. He will convince the world of sin, and of justice and of judgment. He will convince the world of sin! It is first the sin of those who rejected Christ and condemned Him to the death of the Cross. Jesus spoke these words only a few hours before His death. By dying on the Cross He performed the works of remission of sins. He did not come into the world to judge it but to save it. When the Holy Spirit convinces the world of sin, He also convinces it of the remission of sins. Therefore the world is divided into two sides. On one side, there are those who acknowledge the remission of sins and who accept it for themselves. They have received the Holy Spirit. On the other side, there are those who refuse the gift of redemption and this rejection will be their condemnation. The conviction of sin is intrinsically connected to the death of Christ on the Cross as Pope John Paul II points it out: it is the demonstration of the evil of sin, of every sin, in relation to the Cross of Christ. Sin, shown in this relationship, is recognized in the entire dimension of evil proper to it, through the "mysterium iniquitatis" which is hidden within it. Man does not know this dimension-he is absolutely ignorant of it apart from the Cross of Christ. So he cannot be "convinced" of it except by the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of truth.
The mystery of iniquity has its beginning with original sin. What do we know about the beginning? In the Beginning God created heaven and earth. It is the gift of Creation, a gift from the Three Divine Persons. The Word, who is the Second Person of the Trinity, is the principle of the Creation according to Saint John. In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.
But at the beginning, there was also a spirit that is opposed to the Word of God and that has its origin in the will of the rational creatures. There was a tree in the garden and this tree brought death into the world by the disobedience of Adam. One day, another tree would bring back life by the obedience unto death of the New Adam. The spirit that opposes the Word, we can name it with Pope John Paul II, the Anti-Word or the Anti-truth.
This "anti-truth" is possible because at the same time there is a complete falsification of the truth about who God is. God the Creator is placed in a state of suspicion, indeed of accusation, in the mind of the creature. For the first time in human history there appears the perverse "genius of suspicion." He seeks to "falsify'' Good itself; the absolute Good, which precisely in the work of creation has manifested itself as the Good which gives in an inexpressible way: as bonum diffusivum sui, as creative love. Who can completely "convince concerning sin," or concerning this motivation of man's original disobedience, except the one who alone is the gift and the source of all giving of gifts, except the Spirit, who "searches the depths of God" and is the love of the Father and the Son?
Living in this world where two antagonistic spirits oppose each other, we often vacillate from one to another. Between Word and the Anti-Word, there is no hesitation possible. The Word is the principle of my being and of my life. May the Anti-Word not be the principle of my actions! Let us turn to the Mother of the Incarnate Word, so that we can live according to the Spirit of truth and reject the works of darkness that lead to death. Amen!

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