Homily on the Monday of the Holy Spirit
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
New Rochelle, New York
June 21, 2021
Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
This Monday of the Holy Spirit is the preeminent Feast of the Holy Trinity, and the name-day of your parish. Although, in truth, every day is the feast of our Triune God, because all of creation, and every moment of time, praises and extolls the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier of the world.
Like all the feasts that follow major events: the Synaxis of the Virgin, on the day after Christmas; and the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel, on the 26th of March; this Monday of the Holy Spirit follows Pentecost. But the descent of the Holy Spirit in the tongues of fire, both concludes the saving ministry of the Son of God – His economia – and also commences the continuing ministry of the salvation of the world. For the Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father,[*] is distributed throughout the world at the petition of the Son.
And this is something I would like to emphasize today: that the Holy Spirit is present among us, because our Lord Jesus Christ desired it to be so. He even said it to His Disciples:
“If you love Me, keep my commandments, and I will ask the Father to give you still another Advocate – the Paraclete – to abide with you forever.”[†]
The Lord knew that his presence among us – in His Divinely Incarnate form – would always be localized. To be “everywhere present and filling all things” is not a property of the human being, who is singular and always located in space and time. Even before His Passion, the Lord fully understood, that for the effects of His Saving Death and Resurrection to take hold in the earth and transform life as we know it, there had to be “another Paraclete.”
And the Paraclete, Whose praises we sing today, reveals Himself in and through the Church – the Body of Believers.
That is why we invoke the Person of the Holy Trinity upon the Holy Gifts of Bread and Wine for them, to become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That is why we invoke the Holy Spirit upon the waters of Baptism and the Ἁγιασμούς, to sanctify the most essential element of biological life, and make of it the sustenance and foundation of our spiritual life.
That is why we invoke the Holy Spirit upon the oil – ἕλεος ἐπί ἔλαιον, in order to receive healing and forgiveness.
Through the Holy Spirit – in every place and time of history – the presence of God is made manifest through these precious Mysteries of the Church. But there is more.
The Lord said: “If you love Me, keep my commandments, and I will ask….” His asking the Father on our behalf is placed in relationship to our love for Him and our keeping His commandments. And what is His greatest commandment?
Αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ ἐμή, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς.
This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.[‡]
My Beloved Friends:
If we are serious about our Faith and our Church;
If we truly believe that the Church is the living Body of Christ;
If we have confidence that the Eucharist is the Risen Body of Christ;
And if we trust what our Lord Jesus Christ told us on the night in which He gave Himself up for the life of the world:
Then our lives must be full of love, compassion, understanding, mercy and forgiveness for one another — especially for those who hate us, oppose us, criticize us and revile us.
Then, and only then, can we say with confidence that the Holy Spirit dwells in us, because the proof – or the fruit – of the Spirit is to love as Christ loved – without condition, reservation or measure.
“Love one another, as I have loved you.”
This is the life of the Holy Spirit, Who will grant us the power, the ability and the willingness to do so, if we but only ask.
Therefore, let us ask of our Lord, as He asked of His Father, that the Spirit may fill our hearts, our souls and our minds with the knowledge of God’s love for the world, as well as for each and every one of us, so that we may be able to love one another, and follow in the way of all His commandments.