“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings living a human experience”. This sentence by Teilhard de Chardin (priest and scientist) introduces the gospel of today, in which John the Baptist indicates Jesus, a man of the Spirit who immerses (baptizes) in the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the very life of God, the loving relationship between Father and Son that the latter has revealed through gestures and words. Man is immersed in this Spirit and is born as a spiritual ego, reuniting with the divine source and expressing an existence marked by universal and, at the same time, concrete love. In this way lives his being the image of that God whose Face is shown by Jesus.
The fulfillment of Christ’s work is the gift of the Spirit (which the Christian community announces in a special way at Pentecost): God communicates himself-gives himself to become our life. Thus man is a child of God and a “temple of the Holy Spirit”.
If the Spirit, an invisible reality, somehow remains “in the rear”, it is possible to realize the fruits of his action. In the letter to the Galatians (5:22), Paul lists them: love, joy, peace, patience, benevolence, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control. In summary, the man who lets himself be guided by the Spirit of God (pneumatics) he lives relationships of trust and gratitude (son of God) and of fraternity and care (brother to all).
The path of the spiritual self is gradual. It requires overcoming the “carnal” self, that is, the self guided by instinct, recklessness, selfishness. For this reason, like the Master, it is necessary to go through “death” (detachment from the “carnal” ego) in order to be reborn, in human experience, to the new life of the spiritual being, which has criteria for judgment and action distinguished by universal love, which guide relationships with oneself, with goods and with others.
In every time and in every spiritual tradition there are men pneumatics, capable of silence and attention to listen to the voice of the Spirit, the inner Master. They are thought to be beings outside history and the concrete world. It is not so. These are people who, like Jesus, are driven by the Spirit into the “desert” and “tempted” in the various spheres of social existence.
One of these is Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961), a Swedish politician who, in 1953, became Secretary General of the United Nations in years in which he found himself facing complex and delicate issues for world peace. His diary, published posthumously, shows his inner journey-pilgrimage, to discover himself, the meaning of life and Christian spirituality. A work whose reading could also be useful in this time.
(15 January 2023 – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)
PS – “Each of us carries within us a core of stillness, surrounded by silence. This building, dedicated to work and discussion in the service of peace, must have a room dedicated to silence, in the external sense, and to stillness in the internal sense. The goal was to create a place in this room whose doors can be opened to the infinite fields of thought and prayer. According to an ancient saying, the meaning of a vase is not its shell, but its emptiness. That’s exactly how it is in this room. The room is dedicated to those who come here to fill the void with what they can find in their inner center of stillness” (Dag Hammarskjöld, speech on the occasion of the inauguration of the meditation room he wanted at the UN headquarters in New York, to underline the importance of the spiritual dimension of human life).