Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
“From All Sides”
The faith of Jesus/1/--note it is Jesus’ faith, his trusting, intimate relationship with God, whom he called his Abba/2/, unprecedented intimate address of the Holy One--the faith of Jesus St. Paul announced is the attitude open to God’s creative desire and the freedom to express God’s desire; to work God’s saving power, and to give his life so all humans might enjoy God’s life.
The faith of Jesus is Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is the anointing of Jesus as Messiah. Holy Spirit adopts us as heirs, it unites us to Jesus as sharers in his suffering, his glory and divine life./3/ Intimacy is for us and not only for Jesus!
Think of baptism, the first time one is anointed with the oil named for Holy Spirit--chrism, from the Greek word for messiah. St. Gregory of Nyssa used physical closeness to point to divine intimacy:
anointing suggests...no distance exists between the Son and the Spirit...just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil...so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate...Holy Spirit...com[es] from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith./4/Contact with Holy Spirit allows risen Jesus to impart to us divine glory in this present time of sufferings and brokenness. We will experience it fully on that day when it will be revealed. Now we experience it in partial ways. Partial doesn’t mean glory isn’t real. Risen life of Jesus, with which his Spirit endows us, now registers as endurance and hope. Both these remember Abraham, so crucial for St. Paul.
Evidence contradicted reason: death--as infertility in Abraham’s case,/5/ or physical death in Jesus’ case/6/--couldn’t give life. Exercising our trust--enduring despite contrary evidence--produces hope, St. Paul said when he proclaimed Jesus’ life-giving death. Holy Spirit allows intimacy with the afflicted Jesus. Afflictions are new learning: enduring into hope./7/ Not only is glory born in us. Intimacy with Jesus and his pattern of living makes us midwives at the birth of glory in others. Both grace and our service encourage our hope.
/1/ Chapter 3. 21-26, usually translated as faith in Jesus. These translations here “fly in the face of grammatical and literary considerations [of the Greek language], and they entirely miss the direction of Paul’s argument” (Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary. NY: Crossroad, p. 59.)
/2/ Immediately earlier in this Chapter 8 at verse 15.
/3/ See Catechism of the Catholic Church, #690.
/4/ On the Holy Spirit, 16; in Catechism, #690. In the Eastern Churches the whole body is chrismated, hence “Holy Spirit...com[es] from all sides.”
/5/ Chapter 4. 18-19.
/6/ Chapter 5. 1-10.
/7/ Again, Chapter 5. 1-5.
Wiki-image of the Ambry of the Cathedral of the Assumption (Louisville, KY) contains Sacred Chrism, in addition to Oil of Catechumens and Oil of the Infirm. Image used according to the GNU Free Documentation license.