It is the Spirit that gives life.
Sometimes you just need a good teacher. For example, you might sum up Einstein’s theory of relativity in a simple equation: E=mc2. A quick Internet search will tell you that E represents energy, m stands for mass, and c2 is the speed of light, squared. But to understand what all these terms mean when put together, you’d need a skilled teacher who could clearly explain the concepts of physics. A superficial grasp just isn’t enough.
The same principle can apply when it comes to reading Scripture.
Jesus says in Scripture that his followers must eat his flesh and drink his blood, and you might (or might not) understand that on a superficial level. But to really comprehend what Jesus is saying, you need a good, patient teacher. You need the Holy Spirit. Think about what the disciples did when they heard these words. They were confused. It didn’t make sense that they could eat the flesh of Jesus. But they believed in him. They had become convinced that he was “the Holy One of God”. And that helped them hold on when they didn’t understand fully. They waited for the Spirit to teach them, to give “life” to Jesus’ words.
Each of us has had times when God’s word doesn’t make sense to us. We come across Scripture passages or Church teachings that aren’t easy to understand or to follow. That’s the time to follow the disciples’ lead and hang in there. That’s the time to ask the Spirit to teach us. Keep trying your best to stay faithful, and trust that the Spirit will help you understand more deeply over time.
That’s the thing about the Holy Spirit. He works in many different ways—in Scripture, through the Church, through our own conscience, through other people in our lives—but in all of them, the key ingredient is our humble, trusting response. The key ingredient is our willingness to follow Peter’s lead and confess that Jesus has “the words of eternal life,” even if we don’t understand them all. If we can ask, simply, “Lord, where else can I find what you have to offer me?” we’ll discover the Holy Spirit gently, gradually answering our questions and deepening our faith.
word among us
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