Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Echoes of the Word 15th May 2016

Pentecost John 20:19-23

The Gospel reading for Pentecost tells us of the gift of the spirit of peace and forgiveness from the risen Christ. Just as in the Garden of Eden God breathed into the nostrils of Adam the spirit of life and of peace, so now Christ breathes into his timorous disciples the Spirit of new life and new peace. This peace of the Spirit is to be not simply the absence of strife but a positive renewal of the peace and harmony of original innocence. Harmony is not silence, but is an agreeable web of sound. Friendship is not absence of enmity but is a positive and joyful partnership and exchange. So the original peace is not solitude but a welcoming web of relationships, bringing joy and happiness. In our world, full of hazards and mistakes, this cannot occur without the mutual joy of forgiveness. So the risen Christ gives the power of forgiveness, and also the possibility of recognising when there is no desire for forgiveness.

Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB

Reflection on Pentecost

Images abound for the Holy Spirit; ‘he’ is a wind (at creation at the beginning of Genesis and again on the day of Pentecost), the form of a dove at the baptism of Jesus, tongues of fire at Pentecost, a fountain of living water promised in St John’s Gospel, one of the three angels who visited Abraham in Genesis, an Advocate and a Comforter. According to the Nicene Creed he proceeds, he is the Lord, the giver of life, he speaks through the prophets. 

In the stained glass of Ampleforth Abbey, he appears as a dove between the heads of Father and Son:

In the famous icon of Andrei Rublev, he is thought to be the angel on the right, clad in the blue of divinity and the green of new life (in Orthodox liturgical practice, green is the colour of the Holy Spirit):

We struggle perhaps to understand the way in which the Holy Spirit is a Person, but maybe this just shows us that our finite, delimited view of what is a ‘person’ is what is not quite right. In the Rublev icon the angel who is the Spirit touches the table with a downward movement. The Holy Spirit descends into us, bringing God closer to us than we are to ourselves. 

Fr Gabriel Everitt