The “Comings” and “Goings” of Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit

The Incarnation, Ascension, and Pentecost are the feasts that reveal the nature of God’s absolute presence NOT His relative absence. The following excerpt from one of John Henry Newman’s sermons elucidates this mystery. By the way, for those who have the time and inclination, the whole sermon is well worth reading.

“If I go, I will send the Advocate to you”
Christ really is with us now, whatever be the mode of it. This he says expressly Himself; “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Mt 28,20)… You may be led to explain his declaration thus; “He has come again, but in his Spirit; that is, his Spirit has come instead of him; and when it is said that he is with us, this only means that his Spirit is with us.” No one, doubtless, can deny… that the Holy Ghost is come; but why has he come? to supply Christ’s absence, or to accomplish his presence? Surely to make him present. Let us not for a moment suppose that God the Holy Ghost comes in such sense that God the Son remains away. No; he has not so come that Christ does not come, but rather he comes that Christ may come in his coming. Through the Holy Ghost we have communion with Father and Son. “In Christ we are built together,” says Saint Paul, “for an habitation of God through the Spirit” and: “Strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ep 2,22; 3,16f). The Holy Spirit causes, faith welcomes, the indwelling of Christ in the heart. Thus the Spirit does not take the place of Christ in the soul, but secures that place to Christ…

The Holy Spirit, then, vouchsafes to come to us, that by his coming Christ may come to us, not carnally or visibly, but may enter into us. And thus he is both present and absent; absent in that he has left the earth, present in that he has not left the faithful soul; or, as he says himself, “The world sees me no more, but you see me.” (Jn 14, 19).
Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890), “The Spiritual Presence of Christ in the Church”

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