John 20:19-23
The Forgotten Person
 by Rev. Steven G. Oetjen
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"

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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.

     On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

I have sometimes heard the Holy Spirit called the "forgotten person" of the Holy Trinity.  If that's true, maybe there's a reason for it.  The Holy Spirit never seeks attention for himself, but always points us to Jesus.

His descent at Pentecost may have been dramatic: "a noise like a strong driving wind" that filled the entire house, the appearance of "tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them, the way they each spoke "in different tongues."  But here's what happens next.  Peter addresses the crowd and begins preaching the crucified and risen Jesus to everyone gathered there.  People's attention doesn't stay long on the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, by inspiring Peter's words, makes sure that their attention is quickly turned to Jesus.

The Holy Spirit never seeks attention for himself, but always points us to Jesus.  It was the Holy Spirit who overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary when Jesus was conceived in her womb.  It was the Holy spirit who filled Elizabeth, causing John to leap in her womb, and allowing both of them to recognize Jesus as the Lord, present in Mary's womb.  It was the Holy Spirit who revealed to Simeon that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ, and it was the same Spirit who inspired Simeon to recognize Jesus and to prophesy about him when Mary and Joseph brought him into the Temple.  At Our Lord's baptism in the Jordan, it was the Holy Spirit who descended on Jesus like a dove to testify that he is the Christ.  In John 1:33, we hear of how God told John the Baptism, "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit."  In all these cases, the Holy Spirit is opening the minds of various people to perceive who Jesus is and to recognize him in their midst.  The Holy Spirit comes to visit souls, not to draw attention to himself, but to focus the gaze of those souls on Jesus.

Wherever and whenever Jesus is worshipped and adored, the Spirit is already at work.  This is a principle articulated by St. Paul in today's second reading: "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3).  The Holy Spirit points us to Jesus and illumines our minds by the light of faith so that we can worship Jesus as God.  And the Holy Spirit not only points us to Jesus, but he also transforms us into Jesus.  He forms Jesus in us and makes us like unto him.  This is why St. Paul also calls the Holy Spirit the "Spirit of adoption through whom we cry, 'Abba, Father!'"

The Holy Spirit never seeks attention for himself.  None of the Persons of the Holy Trinity do, I suppose.  The Father sends the Son; the Father and Son together send the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit directs us back to the Son and makes us one with the Incarnate Lord.  One with Jesus, we worship the Father as Our Father.  There is an everlasting dynamic of love between these three co-eternal, co-equal Persons.  Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit who is poured into our hearts, we are caught up in this dynamic of love,

If the Spirit never draws attention to himself, it is because the Spirit is love.  He is the bond of love between the Father  and son, and love is not self-seeking.  Living in the gift of the Holy Spirit, maybe we too can be forgotten persons.