Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Catechism of the Catholic Church

III. GOD'S SPIRIT AND WORD IN THE TIME OF THE PROMISES

702 From the beginning until "the fullness of time," 60 the joint mission of the Father's Word and Spirit remains hidden, but it is at work. God's Spirit prepares for the time of the Messiah. Neither is fully revealed but both are already promised, to be watched for and welcomed at their manifestation. So, for this reason, when the Church reads the Old Testament, she searches there for what the Spirit, "who has spoken through the prophets," wants to tell us about Christ. 61

By "prophets" the faith of the Church here understands all whom the Holy Spirit inspired in the living proclamation and in the composition of the sacred books, both of the Old and the New Testaments. Jewish tradition distinguishes first the Law (the five first books or Pentateuch), then the Prophets (our historical and prophetic books) and finally the Writings (especially the wisdom literature, in particular the Psalms). 62

In creation

703 The Word of God and his Breath are at the origin of the being and life of every creature: 63

It belongs to the Holy Spirit to rule, sanctify, and animate creation, for he is God, consubstantial with the Father and the Son.... Power over life pertains to the Spirit, for being God he preserves creation in the Father through the Son. 64

704 "God fashioned man with his own hands [that is, the Son and the Holy Spirit] and impressed his own form on the flesh he had fashioned, in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form." 65

The Spirit of the promise

705 Disfigured by sin and death, man remains "in the image of God," in the image of the Son, but is deprived "of the glory of God," 66 of his "likeness." The promise made to Abraham inaugurates the economy of salvation, at the culmination of which the Son himself will assume that "image" 67 and restore it in the Father's "likeness" by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is "the giver of life."

706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit. 68 In Abraham's progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself, 69 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will "gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad." 70 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and "the promised Holy Spirit . . . [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it." 71

In Theophanies and the Law

707 Theophanies (manifestations of God) light up the way of the promise, from the patriarchs to Moses and from Joshua to the visions that inaugurated the missions of the great prophets. Christian tradition has always recognized that God's Word allowed himself to be seen and heard in these theophanies, in which the cloud of the Holy Spirit both revealed him and concealed him in its shadow.

708 This divine pedagogy appears especially in the gift of the Law. 72 God gave the Law as a "pedagogue" to lead his people towards Christ. 73 But the Law's powerlessness to save man deprived of the divine "likeness," along with the growing awareness of sin that it imparts, 74 enkindles a desire for the Holy Spirit. The lamentations of the Psalms bear witness to this.

In the Kingdom and the Exile

709 The Law, the sign of God's promise and covenant, ought to have governed the hearts and institutions of that people to whom Abraham's faith gave birth. "If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, . . . you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." 75 But after David, Israel gave in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations. The Kingdom, however, the object of the promise made to David, 76 would be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor according to the Spirit.

710 The forgetting of the Law and the infidelity to the covenant end in death: it is the Exile, apparently the failure of the promises, which is in fact the mysterious fidelity of the Savior God and the beginning of a promised restoration, but according to the Spirit. The People of God had to suffer this purification. 77 In God's plan, the Exile already stands in the shadow of the Cross, and the Remnant of the poor that returns from the Exile is one of the most transparent prefigurations of the Church.

Expectation of the Messiah and his Spirit

711 "Behold, I am doing a new thing." 78 Two prophetic lines were to develop, one leading to the expectation of the Messiah, the other pointing to the announcement of a new Spirit. They converge in the small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the "consolation of Israel" and "the redemption of Jerusalem." 79

We have seen earlier how Jesus fulfills the prophecies concerning himself. We limit ourselves here to those in which the relationship of the Messiah and his Spirit appears more clearly.

712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the "Book of Emmanuel" ("Isaiah said this when he saw his glory," 80 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

713 The Messiah's characteristics are revealed above all in the "Servant songs." 82 These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus' Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our "form as slave." 83 Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

714 This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following passage from Isaiah: 84

The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good tidings to the afflicted;
he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favor.

715 The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of "love and fidelity." 85 St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost. 86 According to these promises, at the "end time" the Lord's Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.

716 The People of the "poor" 87 - those who, humble and meek, rely solely on their God's mysterious plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah - are in the end the great achievement of the Holy Spirit's hidden mission during the time of the promises that prepare for Christ's coming. It is this quality of heart, purified and enlightened by the Spirit, which is expressed in the Psalms. In these poor, the Spirit is making ready "a people prepared for the Lord." 88

Notes:

60 Gal 4:4.

61 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14; Jn 5:39, 46.

62 Cf. Lk 24:44.

63 Cf. Ps 33:6; 104:30; Gen 1:2; 2:7; Eccl 3:20-21; Ezek 37:10.

64 Byzantine liturgy, Sundays of the second mode, Troparion of Morning Prayer.

65 St. Irenaeus, Dem ap. 11: SCh 62, 48-49.

66 Rom 3:23.

67 Cf. Jn 1:14; Phil 2:7.

68 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38, 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.

69 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.

70 Cf. Jn 11:52.

71 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.

72 Cf. Ex 19-20; Deut 1-11; 29-30.

73 Gal 3:24.

74 Cf. Rom 3:20.

75 Ex 19:5-6; Cf. I Pet 2:9.

76 Cf. 2 Sam 7; Ps 89; Lk 1:32-33.

77 Cf. Lk 24:26.

78 Isa 43:19.

79 Cf. Zeph 2:3; Lk 2:25, 38.

80 Jn 12:41; cf. Isa 6-12.

82 Cf. Isa 42:1-9; cf. Mt 12:18-21; Jn 1:32-34; then cf. Isa 49:1-6; cf. Mt 3:17; Lk 2:32; finally cf. Isa 50:4-10 and Isa 52:13-53:12.

83 Phil 2:7.

84 Isa 61:1-2; cf. Lk 4:18-19.

85 Cf. Ezek 11:19; 36:25-28; 37:1-14; Jer 31:31-34; and cf. Joel 3:1-5.

86 Cf. Acts 2:17-21.

87 Cf. Zeph 2:3; Ps 22:27; 34:3; Isa 49:13; 61:1; etc.

88 Lk 1:17.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Renewal with God before Us: Christ Determines All 0 hours ago
Sons of Dominic Prepare for Family Synod 22 hours ago
Dominican theologians assess proposals for divorced and remarried 22 hours ago
The ‘Pope Francis effect’—changing the way the world sees the papacy 23 hours ago
Renewal with God Behind Us: Man Determines All July 28

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
New management, new changes coming for reformed Vatican bank CWN - July 8
Sweeping reforms to Vatican's media, financial operations CWN - July 9
‘Even Genghis Khan didn’t do this’: Mosul emptied of Christians CWN - July 21