Saturday, May 18, 2013

No. 3 gets the spotlight for a change

For some reason, the number three doesn't have the best reputation in our western culture. Sure, the third time is the charm (or the point where the need for instant gratification ends and people just stop trying), but consider the following phrases:

  • Bad things happen in threes. Good thing this phrase of a somewhat self-fulfilling prophecy didn't originate as "bad things happen by the dozen".
  • Three is a crowd. Whoever made this up must be from the prairies where we have limitless space and can easily feel overcrowded.
  • Third wheel. Unless your a tricycle, a third wheel is unwelcome.
  • Third-born child. According to popular psychology, our third-born children are going to have issues, lots of issues.

And what about the third person of the trinity—the Holy Spirit? God the Father gets 46 books of the Old Testament and lots of mention in the new. Jesus gets 27 books of the New Testament, an entire religion named after Him and measurement of time itself changed around Him. Holy Spirit? A few obscure mentions the disciples didn't understand and one major feast. Yeah, He gets mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles a fair bit, but do we really give Him the credit He deserves?

I first started appreciating the significance of the Holy Spirit in my life and the life of the Church thanks to Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter The Coming of the Third Millennium. If you remember this letter, it laid out a three-year plan to prepare for the Great Jubilee—one year for each person of the trinity. The second year, 1998, was dedicated to the Holy Spirit.

I knew about the Holy Spirit from confirmation, His gifts and fruits. And yes, I truly believe He has dwelt in me and guided me since baptism. But this letter and subsequent book of reflections opened my eyes to the real significance of the Holy Spirit in everything we do.

"The Spirit, in fact, makes present in the Church of every time and place the unique Revelation brought by Christ to humanity, making it alive and active in the soul of each individual." (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 44)

That's just one of several profound statements. What else can I say after a quote like that? Not much, other than let's celebrate Number Three this Sunday, Pentecost Sunday. And let's never stop celebrating the activity He generates in our souls. One thing I do think is worth mentioning about this quote, the use of the word "individual." He didn't say believer, faithful, Christian or anything else that would exclude anyone. The Holy Spirit is active in each individual in a very personal way. How are you going to respond to that activity in your soul?

Come Holy Spirit. Fill the Hearts of the faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the Earth.

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