The Holy Spirit in the Passion of Christ


For several years now, a votive mass to the Holy Spirit has been celebrated in the parish of “Sainte-Thérèse de l’Enfant-Jésus” in Friburg, every last Tuesday of the month. However, the last Tuesday of this month (March) coincides with the Tuesday of Holy Week (liturgically priority). My first reaction was to suppress the votive mass of the Holy Spirit in order to celebrate only the Tuesday of Holy Week. But with a little hindsight, I said to myself: no! Does the Holy Spirit have nothing to do with the passion of Christ? Very often when we speak of the Holy Spirit, we think of the childhood gospels, or the baptism of Jesus and more often the gifts and charisms (cf. St Paul). But what about passion?

In the Gospel of Luke

We started the Lenten Season with the story of the temptation in the desert (1st Sunday of Lent). After the manifestation of the Holy Spirit at baptism, with the voice of the Father making himself heard, the same Spirit pushes Jesus into the desert: “Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was tempted by the devil” (Lk 4, 1). So it was with the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus won the “first round”. But this is not the end yet, rather it is the beginning. Luke concludes the account of the temptation with these words: “Having then exhausted all possible temptation, the devil departed from him until the favorable moment [kairos]” (Lk 4:13). Until the right moment! There is therefore a second round. When will it be? Obviously, this is the moment of passion that opens in the Garden of Olives with the arrest: the hour of darkness (cf. Lk 22:53). On the cross, Jesus will say: “Father into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Is the spirit of Jesus anything other than the Holy Spirit? This is the second round, where it all comes together. This match is won, because the centurion, at the foot of the cross, gives glory to God (Lk 23:47). In the Bible, one gives glory to God only in front of great things, the wonders which the Lord accomplishes (cf. Ex 15: 1-21: liberation from slavery; Lk 1, 46: magnificate; Lk 2, 20: the birth of Jesus) ; Lk 5:25: healing of the paralytic …)

In the Gospel of John

At the end of the Feast of the Tents, Jesus invited everyone who thirsts and believes in him to come and drink, according to the Scriptures, “From his bosom shall flow rivers of living water” (cf. Jn 7:39 ). The evangelist specifies that Jesus spoke of the Spirit which those who would believe in him were to receive, but with great precision: “There was not yet a Spirit because Jesus had not yet been glorified.” Now in the Gospel of John, the hour of glory is precisely the hour of passion, the hour of the cross. So there is no Spirit (given of course) without the cross. And we will indeed see that when Christ dies, he gives the Spirit: “and he gave up the (E) sprit” (Jn 19:30). Mary present at this time is playing an important role in the begetting which is realized thanks to the gift of the Spirit: her spiritual motherhood.

Furthermore, it is in the context of the passion that Jesus promises his disciples the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete (Defender, advocate, help, help, comforter, intercessor…) [Jn 14, 15-31; Jn 16, 5-24]. It is he who guarantees peace, joy, truth and victory in tribulations, trials, temptation.

St John also tells us that Jesus loved his own to the end (telos) [cf. Jn 13, 1]. Once again the passion of Christ is the place par excellence where the love of God shines in all its splendor. Isn’t Love the other name of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5: 5)? Thus, every disciple is called to love and serve as the master, accepting to die to himself.

In the Marianist spirituality

We know what place the cross occupies in the teaching of our founder with regard to becoming conformed to Christ, which is nothing other than new life in the Holy Spirit: to become new men through the paschal mystery. (death + resurrection). In this spiritual work, the Holy Spirit occupies a fundamental place. If the Marianist consecrates himself to Mary so that she may form her in the likeness of Christ, he must not forget the preponderant role of the Holy Spirit in this formation. The place of the Holy Spirit in the passion of Christ reminds us of the place of the Holy Spirit in Marianist spiritual work “this is properly what we call being spiritual, and living in spirit in all things, when the Holy Spirit is the principle of everything in us, it is the possessor of all ourselves; may he hold us in his arms, and may he carry us to whatever pleases him. And although this is done more noticeably in some of us more than in others, it is nevertheless really done in all those who want to mortify themselves, and who renounce their flesh and themselves in all that they are” Chaminade in Quentin Hakenewerth, “To put on the new man,” Manuel de spiritualité marianiste, p. 13).

Exploring the place of the Holy Spirit in the passion of Christ is in fact a confession of faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If for us Marianists it is obvious that Mary is present in all the mysteries of the life of Christ, this is even more true with divine persons. Our Christian life flourishes when we develop very good relationships not only with the Virgin Mary, but also with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into whom we are baptized.

Casimir TCHEOU, sm