The Angel Gabriel announces God's plan to Mary that she is chosen to be the Mother of God. Mary questions the possibility: "How can this be since I do not know man?" Gabriel answers: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will over-shadow you" (Lk 1:34-35).
   Christ is formed in Mary and in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is with us! St. John the Evangelist climaxes the progressive dwelling of God in His powerful glory among His people as he describes the Word enfleshed for us: "... and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father filled with enduring love" (Jn 1: 14).
   God was present among His chosen people in the Ark of the Covenant and then in the Holy of Holies within the Temple of Mount Zion. Now God speaks His loving Word and pitches His tent and dwells among the newly chosen people of Israel in the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
   This active, loving, Word of God creates new relationships with His people; through the power of the Holy Spirit, He now centers His presence in the "tent" of human flesh. The glory of God's divinity shone through the humanity of Christ. The power of God's Spirit of love radiated in the teachings and miracles of this man, Jesus. When Christ touched the sick and diseased around Him, His humanity became the point of encounter.

The Indwelling

God's loving presence filled the lives of all who accepted the Word made flesh. This encounter with God is made possible by the Holy Spirit.
   Jesus often refers to Himself as light: "I have come to the world as its light, to keep anyone who believes in m e from remaining in the dark" (Jn12: 46). When He preached in the synagogue at Nazareth at the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore He has anointed me. He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord" (Lk 4:18-19). He entered into the darkness within the daily lives of those whom He met on this earth and led them into the light of His healing love.
   By our baptism we are inserted into Christ. He is still a light that drives out the darkness from within us. He is the living light, enlightening our souls as He abides within us together with His Father and the Spirit of love. By our baptism we are a holy temple of God, in whom the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19).
   When the Spirit came upon Mary, Christ was formed in her and she presented to the world its salvation. Christ will be formed in us when we allow the Spirit to mold and fashion us according to the plan of God.

Changing Into Christ

The Tale of
Two Tadpoles

   A pond is full of life, but you have to get down on your hands and knees with your nose to the water to really see it. In the spring you will notice tadpoles, often called polliwogs. They are tiny, wiggly swimmers with long tails. They have hatched from eggs laid 10 to 20 days earlier, and look more like fish then frogs.
   By May, the ones who survive are about one-inch long and change color from black, to brown with black spots. The tadpoles swimming in July are two inches long and have grown hind legs. Some already have front legs and look more like frogs with tails. Their bodies are fatter and their mouths wider.
   These tadpoles are going through a metamorphosis; a great change in form and structure that takes the animal from the immature to adult stages.
   Inside, the tadpoles are going through even greater changes. They start growing a pair of lungs to breathe air. Their gills, for breathing in water, are disappearing. Their intestines are changing so that they can digest insects - the food of frogs - rather than plants, the food of tadpoles.
   At one point in this metamorphosis, the creature is in-between tadpole and frog. He can no longer digest plants but cannot catch insects yet. He stops eating and gets nourishment from his own tail. Soon the tail disappears and a new frog hops on land, takes his first breath and explores a whole new world.

Come Holy Spirit

Come, true light;
Come, eternal life;
Come, hidden mystery;
Come, treasure without name;
Come, incessant joy;
Come, light unfading;
Come, hope which will save all;
Come, resurrection of the dead;
Come, O powerful one, who fulfillest, transforms,
and changes all things by thy will alone;
Come, garland never withered;
Come, breath of life consolation of my lowly heart.
Come, fill us with God's presence.
Come, make our bodies temples of God;
Come, fill us with the power to overcome,
Come, restore the image of God in us.
Come, strengthen our faith.
Come, empower us to speak and work for You in the world.
Come, forgive our sins.
Come, breathe into us the life of God, immortal, everlasting.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
As the fallow earth craves the rain, so we crave Your Presence.

St. Symeon, The New Theologian

   If you ever stand quietly in the shallow water at the edge of the seashore, you may spot small creatures that look just like tiny tadpoles swimming about. These creatures are tunicate tadpoles.
   At first they swim freely in the ocean with great ease with their long tails. Then their tails slow down and finally stop moving altogether. The little creatures sink slowly to the bottom of the ocean. With the three suckers on the top of their heads, each creature attaches itself to a rock. There it starts its metamorphosis.
   Like the real tadpole, the tail disappears as its body gets plumper and plumper and twists into the letter "U" with its ends pointing upward. Inside the body, the eyes that guided the tadpole disappear, along with the tiny ears and long spinal cord, leaving only a tiny brain. His throat gets bigger and bigger until it almost fills the animal's body. And on the outside, it forms a thick, tough covering called a tunic.
   When the metamorphosis is complete, the tiny creature looks like a little round barrel with two funnel-shaped "mouths." It sucks water through one tube and squirts it out the other. It has become a sea squirt.
   What a dull life it has, stuck to one spot with no eyes or ears or tail. Its days of swimming freely in the ocean are over. It spends life sucking in water, taking food particles from it, and squirting the water out again.
   The two tadpoles have no choice in what they will become. One is destined to be a frog and hop freely about on land, croaking and feasting on insects. The other will be a sea squirt.
   We are not like these tadpoles. We have a choice in what we become. Our metamorphosis is a spiritual rather than a physical one. We develop more and more into Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity. Against such there is no law! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's lead" (Gal 5:22-25).


Who Is
The Holy Spirit

   Grandma told us a funny story once about a woman who tried to serve God and Satan. It all started with a person going to a costume ball on a Sunday evening. He was wearing a red suit, a red, skintight mask with horns, had a long red tail and carried a pitchfork. He looked like Satan.
   As he hurried along to his party, he was caught in a terrible rainstorm. The man decided to go into a nearby church -where the services were just ending - for protection from the storm. As he burst into the church there was, at the same time, a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder. The worshipers, thinking they were being visited by the real thing, panicked and rushed to the rear exits.
   The costumed Satan thought the church had been struck by lightning, so he rushed after the people. They all got out except for one elderly lady. Turning in fear, she stretched out her hands and pleaded for mercy, "Oh, devil, please don't hurt me. I know I've been a member of this church for 30 years, but I've really been on your side all the time!"
   Whose side am I really on? There can be no hesitation for a true follower of Christ. "No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or be attentive to the one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money" (Lk 16:13).
   It is important that we know our real enemy; that we know that in tempting us the devil always takes the good things that God created for us to enjoy, and tries to get us to distort and abuse them. For example, the demon of money is greed. The demon of sex is lust. The demon of self-respect is pride. Money is not evil; the love of money is. Sex is not sinful; using others for selfish gratification is. Thinking well of yourself, respecting and loving yourself as the living image of God is not evil; but pride is. The devil is always trying to get us to distort God's good creation.

   In the creed which we recite in our daily prayers and in the Divine Liturgy we profess "The Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified." This truth is reflected in the doxologies of the Liturgy: "He is the holy, good and life-giving Spirit."
   In the Old Testament there are certain actions and events which refer to "the Spirit of God," but not definitively to the Holy Spirit in particular. The Spirit, originally identified as "the wind and breath" is conceived as a living dynamic entity by which God accomplishes His ends. It is a creative and saving power of the Lord.
   The Spirit of God is not present directly, but, rather, hidden in signs or images in certain moments of the Old Testament. We see the work of the Spirit of God in the creation of the universe and of man. We see His involvement in the call of Abraham and Moses, who received the Law to lead the chosen people to the fulfillment of His divine plan. He anoints kings and speaks through prophets, such as Isaiah who foretold that the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon the awaited Messiah.
   In the New Testament, however, the Spirit is clearly defined by Christ and the Heavenly Father, revealing Him to us as a divine Person. God the Father has sent His Son into the world to save us. Through the Son we receive the Holy Spirit. This is the fulfillment of God's plan for salvation. Through the Holy Spirit, the Messiah became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Through the Holy Spirit, also, Elizabeth was inspired to recognize this saving event by identifying her as the Mother of God.
   Again, the Holy Spirit manifested Himself when John the Baptizer baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. The theophany of the Heavenly Father together with the Holy Spirit affirmed that Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed Son of God. Later when Jesus inaugurated His mission in the synagogue in Nazareth, He proclaimed the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me ... to bring good tidings to the lowly ..." (Is. 61:1).
   Even though the Holy Spirit revealed Himself under the symbol of a dove at Jesus' baptism, He is a Person, one of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. His role in our Lord's earthly life was a joint mission for our salvation.

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