Monthly Archives: January 2015

Quench Not

Did I just ignore the Holy Spirit?

1 Thessalonians 5:19

Quench not the Spirit.

I just prayed to the Holy Spirit before clicking on BibleDice.com to receive my random verse of Scripture. What good words to read! Go where the Spirit leads you, heed the Word of God, follow the call of the Lord as He brings you to the place where you’re supposed to be…. That all sounds good – but how?

Yesterday, while writing an assignment for a course I’m taking on the basics of Catholicism, I was reading the Gospel of St. John, chapter 6; specifically, the section that is often called “The Bread of Life Discourse”. I got to the part where the crowd first mumbles against what Jesus is telling them – and I skipped over it. As I was continuing to read, looking for the lines that I wanted to use in my assignment, I was thinking that there was something in that skipped over section that I wanted to read. What was the first point of complaint from the crowd? But, I ignored the wondering feeling and focused on the reason I had turned to John 6 in the first place. Although, in the back of my mind, I felt like I should educate myself and know what the opening grumbling was about, I thought, as I so often do, that I would get to it later.

Was I ignoring the voice of God calling me to a place to which He wanted me to go? Was I quenching the Spirit?

This afternoon, my father decided to listen to some recorded talks through his iPod while doing my chest percussion therapy. (Twice daily therapy where I lie on the bed and and get repeatedly and painlessly smacked on my chest wall and back with a cupped hand – the percussion and vibrations loosen any mucus that may be sticking to my lungs, thus keeping them as clear as possible.) The talks came from some CDs in the back of our church that are meant for anyone to take. I was glad to listen with him. One of the excerpted lectures was from Dr. Scott Hahn and the subject was… John 6. And I said to my dad, “I was just reading that yesterday!” Things like that happen a lot in life, don’t you find?

Anyway, he said many things that I had heard before. I found myself hoping that he would get to the part which says, “the flesh is of no avail, it is the Spirit that gives life. My words are spirit and life” (or something like that.) I always thought that these lines could be a way of showing that the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist is wrong, that Jesus wasn’t speaking as plainly as he appeared to in the beginning of the discourse but, instead, it could all be understood as a call to feed off of his words. Thankfully, Dr. Hahn did get to that part and address that point very well – but not before he read aloud what the crowd was saying when they first mumbled against Jesus’s claims.

Jesus told them that he had come down from heaven to do the will of the Father. And they basically thought, “Who does this guy think he is?” They said amongst themselves, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?””[1]

This is where doubt first crept into their thinking. Jesus had said that they were only there because they were hungry and wanted some more free bread. And then he starts talking about how there are more important things for them to seek in life and mentions that he has come down from Heaven. And they’re thinking – What? His mother is Mary and his father is Joseph. He is just an ordinary man, just like everybody else. In an old-school way of saying, they thought that where he came from was Joseph’s loins. But… He didn’t. Their misunderstanding of Jesus and his words began here.

Did a man’s “flesh” give Jesus life? In other words, was he fathered through the flesh, Joseph’s biological son? No. The Bible says that Joseph did not father Jesus. Rather, he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin named Mary. We can say that he was fathered by God, the Father, through the Spirit. The Spirit gave Jesus life. This means that his identity is not as an ordinary man. Fully human is he, yes, assuredly – and, also, fully divine. But the crowd didn’t know that. They didn’t see that. And even if he had told them outright, plainly, they would not have believed it. It was only later, when he rose from the dead, that things could become more clear. No wonder they were confused.

It is only as the Son of God, fully divine, that Jesus can say that his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink and that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has true life within him and will never perish. And it is only because he is God Incarnate, fully human, that he has flesh to give “for the life of the world.”[2] As Dr. Hahn said in the recorded lecture, it is Jesus’s resurrection that allows us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. The crowd couldn’t simply hack off his flesh and eat it as he was standing there talking to them about it. The power of God, the work of the Spirit, was needed in the raising of Jesus and the glorifying of his body, so that we may take and eat, and take and drink. Thus was Jesus given life, and thus can Jesus give life to the whole world.

I don’t want this writing of mine to be only a brief explanation of Scripture and doctrine. So, these last few minutes of this Burst will be employed in the use of the random piece of Scripture given to me today. I believe that God wanted me to read that section about Jesus being Joseph’s son yesterday and would have led me to a deeper understanding then. God knows that I have been wondering for years about Jesus’ reference to flesh versus spirit at the end of the Bread of Life discourse. But, I didn’t listen to the “still, small voice” yesterday, I ignored the prompting of the Spirit and walked away. God works in mysterious ways, however. As Albert Einstein said, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Today, the very same part of Scripture was brought to me again. Would I “extinguish the Spirit” a second time? No. In fact, I was more prepared to listen attentively because of my brushing aside on the day before. And, so, in the end, God got through to me and told me what I needed to know. Following the Spirit, I was brought to the place where I was meant to be.

© 2015 Christina Chase

[1] John 6:42

[2] John 6:51

Advertisements