He breathed: on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. John 20:22
Years ago when I was trained in CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation ) the common practice was to breath into the patient. This is no longer encouraged. But it strikingly shows how important it is for us to breathe. We cannot stay alive for much more than three minutes without breathing! On the average a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. We are air guzzlers using about two gallons of air a minute. At that rate I could only drive about 10 minutes before I would have to stop and refuel my pick-up truck! We need a tremendous supply of fuel of the Holy Spirit to stay alive spiritually.
The Holy Spirit in its etiological roots means both in Hebrew and Greek wind or breath. We are no less depended on the Holy Spirit than we are on the air we breathe. “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Gen 2:7 The Holy Spirit certainly is the “breath of life”! Devotion to the Spirit can never be reduced to an optional private choice but is the power source of our spiritual life. Paul reminds us in the second reading: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by Holy Spirit.”1Cor 12:3 I find it interesting that we describe our life with Jesus as “our Spiritual life”.
“And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” Act 2:2 There are some 400 references to the Spirit in New Testament. Just about every spiritual gift we can think of is attributed to Holy Spirit, this “divine wind”.
The Spirit is called “the life maker”. “It is the Spirit who gives life” John 6:63 In the Greek New Testament He is called: zōopoieō Literally life maker. May this “divine breath” recreate us in the image of Christ!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.