THE HOLY SPIRIT
(b) The Infallible Spirit
Such is the first introduction of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete. He is the Spirit of Truth beyond every other,Who will abide with His own forever.A little later in the Discourse Jesus gives His disciples more. In the first place he had simply said:
"If you love Me
Keep My commandments,"
and in return the promise had followed. Now He expands the form of His appeal:
"If any man love me
He will keep my word
And My Father will love him
And We will come to him
And will make Our abode with him;"
and at once, as if the two were inevitably connected, the promise is likewise expanded:
"These things I have spoken to you
Abiding with you
But the Paraclete
The Holy Ghost
Whom the Father will send
In my Name
He will teach you all things
And bring all things to your mind
Whatsoever I shall have said to you".
The Spirit of Truth is real, is present, is abiding; by His presence He opens up a new horizon, a new life, to those who can and will receive Him; thus much we have already been told. Now we hear of a special, an all - important function which He will perform for all time. For the Twelve had been chosen,
" That they should be with Him
And that He might send them to preach",
and the day would come when He would extend that commission:
"Go ye into the whole world
And preach the Gospel to every creature."
They were to preach with an authority, an infallibility, equal to His own:
"He that heareth you
And he that despiseth you
And he that despiseth Me
Despiseth Him that sent Me."
( Luke X:16)
and this for a very plain reason :
"For it is not you that speak
But the Spirit of your Father
That speaketh in you."
( Matthew X:20)
To the Twelve then, had been given, or was to be given, the commission to teach whatsoever He had taught them to "all nations", not only to this nation or that.There was to be nothing national or circumscribed in their mission; it was to be for all the world alike. That they should receive the teaching aright, that they should hand it on to their successors untarnished, could not but have been a matter of deep moment for the Twelve; how deeply they cherished it, how they clung to the truth of their tradition, may be seen in the epistles of S.Peter, S. Paul, and S.John.
In those first days, having as yet, as they thought, only their human light to guide them, they must often have wondered, and discussed among themselves, how they could keep it all in mind. They would ask themselves how they could be sure they understood aright, for often they were bewildered, how they could hand it on, unspoilt by anything of their own, to those who would come after them, and had not had the advantage of having known the Lord. There was much they had not understood, and yet had not ventured to enquire; so much they had mistaken and He had been obliged to correct them; So much they had ignored and set aside, so much they had already forgotten.Often enough He had complained to them that they did not see, that they were "without understanding", that they had not yet known Him, that they were slow of heart to believe.Moreover, when their turn for teaching came,when they came into contact with men of learning and experience,with subtle Pharisees, and learned scribes, and practised exponents of the Law, how could they hope to speak as Jesus spoke "with authority", or teach without a flaw, or a compromise, or a surrender,what He had entrusted to them?
Such thoughts and fears, human and natural, must often have made them wonder; now they are given an assurance which would allay all their doubts. On a former occasion, when he had sent them out with a commission to teach, He had looked far into the distant future and had encouraged them :
"When they shall deliver you up
Take no thought how or what to speak
For it shall be given to you in that hour
What to speak
For it is not you that speak
But the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you."
Or as another Evangelist puts it :
"And when they shall bring you into the synagogues
And to the magistrates and powers
Be not solicitous
How or what you shall answer
Or what you shall say
For the Holy Ghost shall teach you
In the same hour
What you must say."
( LUKE XII, 11-12)
But now, they are assured of much more. The Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, will always be with them He Himself will teach them; He will help them remember; He will see to it that nothing essential is forgotten, or misinterpreted, or falsely taught, by those whom Jesus has chosen, and who "love Him and keep His Word". In the first promise we have been given the foundations of the spiritual life, the Holy Ghost living in the soul; here we are given the foundations of the Church, the Holy Spirit living in its members, making all one, speaking with the infallible voice which is His own.
Next Time : The Witness to Jesus