Fourth Sunday after Easter
Since last Sunday, the Church has been preparing us for the Ascension of the Lord. Today, taking up the subject again, she goes a step further. Now she mentions the gift of God: the Holy Ghost – and His coming.
It is expedient to you that I go, for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you (Jn. 16.7).
The Apostles were about to loose the sensible, physical presence of their beloved Risen Lord and Master (cf., “The Divine Farewell“). However, the Risen Christ would not leave them orphans and would continue to help them invisibly by His Spirit, Who would take up His work with them. The Lord Jesus did His work in a visible manner in their midst; the Holy Ghost would do His in a secret, hidden way, but in one no less efficacious and real. Such is the way that leads to the height of Christian perfection: not by our human sensibilities and reckoning which calculate a greater degree of comfort and consolation and, but by the “dark”, hidden and mysterious ways of the Spirit designed for our spiritual ‘purgation’ or purification which is indispensable for our more perfect intimacy with God. If the soul is convinced of this, it will remain, even in difficulties and in the most trying ones, and, if it neither understands nor sees its path, it will trust in the divine Paraclete, Who sees and knows well the goal to which He is leading it. The sensual man perceiveth not [the] things that are of … God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor. 2.14-15).
The hearts of the Apostles could not comprehend what has happened to their Lord and Master and what is to happen still now that He is bidding them farewell because they are still dulled by sin. It was necessary that their Beloved Friend and Master, by dying on the Cross, destroy sin – the great obstacle to the action of the Holy Ghost – and then, when He had ascended into heaven, He would send the divine Paraclete Whom He merited for them and for us – after that man chose to listen to the deceitful and filthy infernal spirit – by His Passion. Therefore, theology teaches that the sending of the Holy Ghost to our souls is the principal fruit of the Passion of Our Lord.
Since sin is the greatest obstacle to the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, our preparation for the reception of this highest Gift Divine must consist then in a very special purity of conscience. Sin must be destroyed in us, not only in its actual manifestations, even though they are slight, but also in its deepest and most hidden roots (cf., “passive purification” in “Christian Love: Love of the Cross“).