Jesus, the one consecrated by the Holy Spirit - Olivier Clément
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Olivier Clément

In the Gospels Jesus presents himself as the "one consecrated" by the Spirit, his "anointed". In this sense the Christian East finds a christological pneumatology dominated by the mystery of the "pneumatization" accomplished in the "flesh", that is to say, in Jesus' humanity. Christ is "existence in the Spirit" (Jean Zizioulas). The incarnation is the work of the Spirit and it is in the Spirit, through his power, that Jesus performs "signs", he heals the sick, he casts out devils, he preaches Good News.

The Father raises Jesus from the dead with his Spirit and he allows him to spread this Spirit (Acts 2:22-23). The Spirit is now this Life, stronger than the death that came from the rib of the crucified Lord with water and blood (Jn 19:34), the water of baptism, the blood of the Eucharist, "pneumatized" and "pneumatizing". The promise of the "other Consoler" (Jn 13:16-31, 33 and 17:1-26) is fulfilled at Pentecost: Christ now comes to us in the Holy Spirit. Christ's work has made possible the full coming of the Spirit. It has enabled man to become "pneumatophore". Through the communion of the Saints, the Spirit, in cooperation with our freedom, gradually shows the face of Christ who comes (St. Maximus the Confessor).

In the Church (which unites the apparently contrasting Catholic "catholicity" and Orthodox "catholicity" in complementary realities, without confusing them,), God is present "in all" (Eph 4:6), thanks to the full revelation of his Spirit. The first professions of faith - and, in its own way, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed - affirm with the same force: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the resurrection of the body". They also affirm belief in baptism - of water and the spirit - and in the "life of the world to come", which we already obtain in the sacraments of the Church and which holiness anticipates and prefigures: "It is in the body of Christ that we have access to the fountain of the Spirit (St. Irenaeus of Lyons).

In St Paul especially the ecclesial expression "Body of Christ" has a clearly eucharistic meaning, the words "eucharist" and "church" are interchangeable (e.g. in 1 Cor 11:8). Now the Eucharist is at the same time communion in the Body of Christ and "communion in the Holy Spirit". The Spirit unites us to the "pneumatological" body of the risen Lord. Thus the Church is filled with the many gifts of the Spirit. Her structure is "epiclectic"; in response to the epiclesis she receives her Lord with humility and repentance in the Spirit. The Spirit integrates the gifts of the faithful and the faithful as a gift in the Lord's "pneumatological body".

Epiclesis is identified in the eschatological aspect of the Apocalypse (22:17), in the Maraatha of the early Eucharist, so that the "sacramental parousia", which anticipates and prepares the final, definitive Parousia, may be accomplished.

According to the Syrian tradition, the Eucharist is "fire and Spirit". "He who eats this body with faith is nourished by it with the fire of the Holy Spirit" (St. Ephraem the Syrian).

The consecrated ministry is seen as the gift of orders and peace given by the Spirit in the continuity of the apostolic succession, both to the Orthodox Church and to the Catholic Church: the imposition of hands of the three consecrating bishops indicate the Christic and conciliar place in which the Spirit descends.

This apostolic ministry leads to the "edification" of the one Body by each kind of personal charism. The highest is that of the "apostolic man" géron, starets, who, regardless of his place in the hierarchy, consciously becomes a "pneumatophore". Ministerial apostolicity is at the service of mystic apostolicity. This is why the ministry can be exercised only within the communion of the People of God, a "royal priesthood" (1 Pet 2:9) and " a kingdom and priests to our God" (Rev 5:10). It commemorates and helps us to know since "you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all know". (1 Jn 2:20).

In the "communion of the Holy Spirit", Koinonia, the Church participates in the life of the Trinity. Communion is the communion of personal consciences (it is the theme, dear to Russian ecclesiology, of the sobornost), and it is also the communion of the local Churches, that is to say, in the real sense, of eucharistic communities. It consists of a whole hierarchy of intersecting centres – metropolitan churches, patriarchates, universal primacy – which stop the local Churches being opposed to one another or becoming isolated.

Tradition is the "pneumatosphere", which makes the Word alive and present in all historical circumstances. It constitutes real history, that of the Communion of the Saints, the authentic testament of the Spirit: doctrinal processes, spiritual experiences, works of holiness and beauty. So rooted in the paschal mystery and through it directed towards the eschatological parousia, tradition is at the same time the living memory of the Church, her critical spirit and her innovatory capacity. We must not confuse – this is the great temptation in the East – Tradition with traditions: with regard to this, the Spirit should allow us to "discern" the spirits. As St. Irenaeus of Lyons said, it is juvenescens!

In the celebration, the Spirit presents, or "re-presents", Christ's work. Man becomes the celebrant of the "cosmic liturgy". To those who are willing to offer their science, their art, their technical ability, their political and social responsibility, the Spirit offers in exchange the power to discover the world, not in order to destroy it, but in order to change it. He enables them to serve men and not become their slaves, to know, but with respect for beings and things; to create beauty, not in the reductive sense, but rather in order to "re-awaken". This is how the radiating Spirit of worship (since true prophecy is sacramental) has been and could become again leaven for an authentic culture.

By interiorizing sacramental grace, personal prayer brings about a progressive "pneumatization" of the human being.

In the Spirit, the intellect is united to the "heart": then a "sensibility" is aroused which is not sentimental but ontological, the "sensibility of the Spirit", that is to say, the ability to "feel God beyond all and in all".

"Baptism of the Spirit" in the great monastic tradition is identified with the "gift of tears", tears of repentance, "ascetic" tears, then "pneumatic" tears of joy and gratitude. Little by little, sometimes immediately, man feels opening within him, beyond the space-time dimension, the breath of the immense, the "breath of the Spirit". Then prayer reaches the spontaneity of life, the rhythm of the heart, cosmic celebration.

And the "fruits" of the Spirit appear: contemplation of the mystery of beings and things, the gifts of service and active love. The person in the Spirit is "separated from all" and "united to all", he perceives the fundamental unity of all people in Christ together with the unique character of each person, he receives the gift of "sympathy" and "compassion", that is to say, the ability to "feel in harmony" in order to heal and console.

He can receive the "discernment of spirits" and become an authentic spiritual father (or "spiritual mother") who awakens, frees and sets people on the road.

The Spirit is given to all, and all, on different levels, are called to this spiritual "sensibility" which inevitably impels people to prayer and responsibility. The Spirit opens the infinite space of his creative liberty to each person. Every gesture that creates love, justice and beauty anticipates the transfiguration of the world of the Eighth Day.

Real tenderness between a man and a woman, the social reformer's patient commitment, the scholar's research while it respects and amazes, are creative acts, just as is the inner struggle of the ascetic who becomes transparent in the light of the Kingdom (Nicolas Berdiaev).

In the fervour and wisdom of the Spirit, all the Churches, on different levels, have a place in the Church, all religions and all cultures present and make up the reality of "pan-Christianity". In the fervour and wisdom of the Spirit, Christ ceaselessly comes and returns; every instant is Parousia.