In 2009,a web based news service called Newsvine, published an article, The Odds That You Will Breathe a Single Molecule of Air That Once Traveled Through the Lungs of Jesus.
If science and the author Rees Sloan are to be believed, the very air we breathe today contains the very molecules that Jesus breathed. (At the same time, we are also breathing in a molecule or two of Judas! The challenge we face is to maximize one over the other!)
The Holy Spirit is often called the ‘Breath of Life.” In the Bible the word for Breath and the word for Spirit – in both Hebrew and Greek are identical. Perhaps the scientific fact and the quirk of language provide some perspective in thinking about the gift of the Holy Spirit.
At the last supper Jesus said to the disciples; “I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you… When he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth” (John 16: 7, 13).
The salvation won for us on the cross was not only for that time and place. Jesus did not know about mass media, the Internet or jet travel. For him, digital computing meant counting on your fingers. Jesus never had to deal with old age, cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease. Jesus didn’t even have to wrestle with the fact that gentiles, non-Jews, wanted to follow him.
He gave us the Holy Spirit and through this person of the Trinity, the Church is reminded of the teachings of Jesus and can apply them to contemporary situations.
That has been the story of the Church throughout history. It is our story as well.
For the Spirit to be present in our life, we don’t need hollering as much as we need harmony.
We don’t need clamor as much as we need cooperation.
We don’t need whooping as much as we need wholeness.
We don’t need people to get down as much as we need them to get together.
The infallible sign of the presence of the spirit is our love for one another. All the rest is of no benefit if that isn’t present. Yes, today, different from the time of Christ, we do things differently. We look at things differently. We think about things differently.
Those differences all come from the one God and we must do the work of discovering that what unites us is much more important than anything that divides us.
It is no accident that when the Holy Spirit came that first Pentecost Sunday “they were all in one place together,” as the book of Acts puts it.
If Andrew had been jealous of John because he was the beloved disciple, if James had been angry at Peter for having denied the Lord, if Philip had been upset with Thomas for having doubted, if Matthew had shunned Mary Magdalene because of her background the Spirit would not have come. Because they accepted each other, because they forgave each other, because they respected each other their unity and oneness could attract the Holy Spirit. We all breathe the same air.
Stop. Take a breath. Are you breathing in the spirit of Jesus?
Fr. John Edmunds ST