Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
(Acts 16:22-34; John 16:5-11)
Some wonder why the Church does not use the word ghost in referring to the third person of the Holy Trinity. A hundred years ago it was used in the standard translation of the Latin Spiritus Sanctus. Now the translation is made almost exclusively by Holy Spirit. Ghost and spirit have very similar original meanings – vigor, breath, soul, etc. In recent times, however, ghost has become more associated with the disembodied soul of a dead person or a demonic being. Spirit, on the other hand, retains the fuller range of meanings that are helpful in understanding today’s readings.
The earthquake freeing St. Paul and Silas should not be thought of as a random act of nature. It clearly represents the work of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit is said to have filled the disciples as they prayed and the earth shook earlier in Acts (4:31). Jesus promises to send the Spirit in today’s gospel with earth-shaking results. The Spirit will show the world wrong on three counts. The world refuses believe in God’s Son. It fails to see that the Son practiced true righteousness. And it does not notice that the real enemy, the devil, is now cast out, at least for those associated with Jesus.
We all need help to live in the world with a modicum of peace. The help we need above all is the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit fills us with a sense of gratitude for all God has done for us. More than that, the Spirit moves us to love others with acts of kindness. The Spirit shakes our foundations to think less of ourselves and more of God.